Side view of gray stained cabinets in showroom

Painted vs. Stained Cabinets: 7 Things to Consider

So many elements go into achieving the perfect kitchen remodel. From kitchen lighting design to choosing the right material for your kitchen countertop, there are tons of factors to consider. One component that can immediately change the ambiance of your kitchen space? Cabinetry. Before you move forward with any more kitchen renovation planning, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of painted vs. stained cabinets.

Let’s Compare: Painted vs. Stained Cabinets

You can’t go wrong, but you definitely want to make an informed decision when it comes to kitchen cabinetry. What looks amazing in one kitchen may not meet the requirements for your personal cooking space. 

1. Paint provides a clean aesthetic, while stain shows natural character

For a smooth, sleek finish, painted cabinets are the way to go. They don’t contain any color differentiation, as can be common with stained wood cabinets. Instead, they keep cabinetry crisp and clean, common in all-white kitchen design.

While you can add personality through paint colors, paint can hide the natural character of stained wood cabinets. If you want the wood grain to be visible, a stain is probably your better option.

2. Stain comes at a cheaper price point

That sleek look of painted cabinetry will cost you… Painted cabinets often carry a price tag about 10 to 15 percent higher than stained wood cabinets. 

3. Paint offers more color options 

While stains are always subject to the texture and color of the underlying wood, paint covers all that right up. You can add some serious personality to your space with bright, statement colors.

4. Paint applies well to medium-density fiberboard (MDF), stain does NOT

If you’re looking to cut kitchen renovation costs, MDF (similar to particle board) is one convenient way to go. Many manufacturers have taken the MDF route because it actually performs better over time. Paint adheres just fine to this material and once painted, it’s essentially impossible to tell the difference between MDF and real wood. Stain, on the other hand, will not look authentic on MDF.

5. A stain is easier to touch up

Though some designers may debate this point, touch up markers are generally easier to find. Even if an exact color match isn’t out there, you can likely find a close match. Plus, stain touch-ups tend to blend better, especially in woods with a lot of grain. 

6. Both dark paints and stains won’t hide dust well

In the instances of both paint and stain, the lighter the cabinet, the less dust you’ll be able to see. If you don’t see yourself wiping down cabinet fronts regularly, consider lightening up your cabinet color.

7. Stain lasts longer than paint

While painted cabinets will last many years, stained cabinets can withstand 20-30 years of wear. Similarly, paint is also more prone to crack in the cabinet joints and can’t be cleaned as easily as stained cabinetry.

Still torn between painted vs. stained cabinets? Don’t worry… Many modern kitchen designs call for a mixture of both, so you can have the best of both worlds!

Whether you go with painted or stained cabinets depends entirely on your vision for your kitchen. Schedule time to talk to a design expert for help in choosing the right cabinets for your kitchen.