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Painted vs. Stained: Cabinets, which one is perfect for your kitchen?

As a designer, I'm always looking at trends and sometimes you see some things come back around. The other day I was catching up with my paint rep and we were discussing stained cabinets were making a comeback! Painted cabinets have been the spotlight in the past, so which one is right for your home? This post will weigh the pros and cons of each and give you a better understanding of just that.

Painted Cabinets


  • For people that want a clean look in their kitchen, paint brings a clean sleek finish to your kitchen space. Paint provides a smooth flawless finish to your cabinets.

  • Allows you to get more colorful, there are so many colors and shades that you can choose from anyone looking for that specific color can get the customized look they are looking for.

  • With paint, you can get away with using cheaper material on the actual cabinet boxes because the paint will cover any imperfection in something like MDF. If you need to cut costs in a kitchen remodel this could be a way to do that and still have a good-looking end product.


  • If you're thinking about painting your cabinets yourself, it can be difficult to prevent streaking as well as hiding any mistakes that you may make during the process.

  • It generally costs more to paint than to stain your cabinets, stain goes farther for the amount that you pay for. Paint may need a couple of coats which will intern raise your price for supplies.

  • Everyday messes that occur in all of our kitchens like hand/fingerprints from opening and closing cabinets and food splatters are more easily shown on painted cabinets.

Stained Cabinets


  • Stained cabinets are for people that love the charm of wood and the warmth that it can bring to your home. Stain emphasizes the natural beauty of the wood as it brings out grain and knots.

  • Stained cabinets tend to be more durable and longer lasting, as you usually choose a hardwood material for this application and any fractures or chipping that may occur through the years are more easily fixed with a touch up marker.

  • Stain tends to go a long way, so you will not have to buy as much during your project, so this will in turn be a lower cost compared to painting them.


  • It is very hard to match as there will always be some sort of discoloration as from cabinet to cabinet. Even when you are buying from a retailer there will be some variation of color and saturation.

  • Something you will also have to look out for on stained cabinets would be the imperfections of the natural wood. Stain will not cover these things like paint would, so it's better to make sure you're monitoring what your unfinished cabinets look like and make sure you are happy with them.

  • If you go with a dark stain, you will see dust very easily. Whichever way you go, paint or stain you will need to wipe off your cabinets very regularly.

Designer's tip:

I believe the best way to get the look of a designer home is mix and match both stained and painted cabinets and have the best of both worlds. The best advice would be to do stained cabinets in more of your high traffic areas, or where your family will spend the most time, because they can stand the test of time. Places like peninsulas and islands would be perfect for this application. While painted cabinets would be perfect for more of your cabinets that don't get used often, like where you keep your serving pieces.

When it comes down to it, this is your space and project, so deciding what to put is up to your aesthetic and preference. I hope this gives you some guidance when making these decisions. If you need any further help on kitchen selections, schedule a call with us to go over some things!

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