If you want wood cabinets you can leave the natural tones, or you can color tint the wood so that light grains show or so that dark grains show with semi-opaque paints. If you are on a tight budget, you can utilize wood veneer to provide a thin sheet of wood over your plywood cabinets. It looks like real wood but is not as durable. When you use a wood veneer you should be aware that the finish is not as solid as a laminate finish and therefore might cost you more in the long run because of replacements after damage.
Laminates is another material often found in kitchen cabinets. It is produced by sealing multiple layers of a resin-soaked paper through heat. The paper is sealed together and offers a durable and flexible material which can be pre-colored or textured and applied to your kitchen cabinets. If you want a white high gloss finish or an ivory high gloss finish then you can create a bright and modern kitchen with laminates. Laminates are also a stronger alternative to melamine.
Melamine is a mixture of pressed wood, paper, and resin. The price and quality of melamine is dependent upon which types of wood are used in the mixture. Melamine offers versatility for kitchen cabinets and it can be found in many hues and colors, as well as different finishes. If the melamine finish cracks, however, then you must replace the entire thing. Nonetheless, it offers an inexpensive option for kitchen cabinets.
Another durable material used in kitchen and bathroom cabinets is PVC. This is constructed from wood fibers and is then covered with a thin sheet of PVC. The PVC is allegedly tougher than melamine and laminates. There are very few color and finish options with PVC designs, but it is a nice alternative for those who are on a tight budget.