An example of painted vs. stained cabinetry.

Painted vs. Stained Cabinetry 

Whether you are thinking of remodeling your kitchen, or are in the process of designing your dream kitchen for your new home, the question of what to do with the cabinets has probably come up. Should you go for the more traditional look of stained cabinets or take the leap and paint your cabinetry? Or maybe a combination of both? 

The fact is that custom cabinetry with a high-quality finish, whether that’s high-gloss paint or stain to bring out a natural wood grain, plays a crucial role in the overall look of your home. So before you decide which is the right fit for your kitchen, you’ll want to consider your design preferences, your budget, and the level of durability you’re expecting.

Consider Your Style 

First things first, consider aesthetics and what you like, and what you don’t like. Painted cabinetry will lend a clean, updated look to your kitchen, while stained cabinets provide a traditional and earthy feel. And while white, off-white, and gray are trending for painted cabinets, painting also offers the option to incorporate a splash of color into the space.

In addition to considering how the cabinets will pair with your flooring, countertops, and backsplash, you’ll want to factor in the cabinetry vibe you naturally gravitate toward. Hop on Houzz, Pinterest, and Instagram and search for “kitchen ideas” or “kitchen inspiration.” Scroll through and save your favorite images on a new board. You’ll quickly notice whether you prefer a natural wood-grain look or a polished painted look. 

Decide on a Budget

If cost is a significant consideration in your remodel or new home design, then it could influence your cabinetry choice. Painting cabinets is a labor-intensive process that tends to be the more expensive option, as it involves additional prep work and multiple coats of primer and paint. For a high-gloss finish, additional rounds of lacquer and buffing are often required. Alternatively, stained cabinetry requires a shorter process, with less prepping followed by minimal coats of stain, sealant, and finish.

An example of painted cabinets in the painted vs. stained cabinetry debate.

Keep Durability in Mind

Another factor to consider is durability. For families with children who tend to leave fingerprints wherever they go, stained cabinetry may be the way to go. It’s easier to touch up and doesn’t show smudges, scuffs, and dirt, making it a low-maintenance option. Painted cabinets, on the other hand, can be prone to chipping and scratching, and will show wear and tear more quickly. Additionally, finding the perfect color match for touch-ups can be tricky.

An example of stained cabinets in the painted vs. stained cabinetry debate.

Don’t hesitate to Get Creative 

And if you just can’t decide? There’s no rule saying you can’t have it both ways! When creating custom looks, interior designers often think outside the box and pair painted and stained cabinetry in the same kitchen. For instance, you could stain the majority of cabinets but use a pop of color for the kitchen island cabinetry. 

For those not quite ready to commit to the full-blown concept of all wood and or all paint, consider using painted cabinets with stained wood accents like floating shelves and stain the inside of the cabinets with glass doors. 

An example of painted kitchen cabinets.

Quarter-sawn oak is a  trending option in stained wood cabinetry as well.  While more expensive than plain sawn, quarter-sawn oak presents with a “straighter” grain than you typically see. Thus, the addition of stain – like this island with an onyx stain below – provides a dramatic contrast to the white-painted cabinetry!

An example of stained kitchen cabinets.

So, don’t be afraid to get creative, the results can be unexpected, unique, and, often, extraordinary.

Are you ready to make your kitchen Epic? Whether your deciding on painted vs. stained cabinetry or something else, we’d love to talk!

Are You Ready to
Reimagine Your Home?

Let's Get Started >