The age-old question – Which is better painted or stained cabinets?

This really comes down to personal preference. Many people can debate which is better but ultimately it is up to you and what you are trying to achieve. In order to assist you in your decision-making process we have highlighted the pros and cons of both painted and stained doors.

Painted cabinets are extremely popular right now and with the number of colors that are available the options are almost limitless. Painted cabinets can add a burst of color to any space in your home and the wide range of colors make it possible to awaken your creativity. Painted cabinets can look remarkable alongside your choice of backsplash, flooring, and décor.

Let’s start with the Pros of painted cabinets:

  • An abundance of color options adds variety and versatility to the cabinets. Bold colors against neutral décor and backsplashes add a lot of color combinations to your color palette. Adding two-toned cabinets in your design will add even more versatility to the cabinets.
  • Clean, smooth, and streamlined looks give the cabinets a more modern look and painted cabinets will hide the wood grain and other elements, like knots or mineral streaks that some find as an eye sore.
  • The perception of space can be gained with painted cabinets when using lighter colors. For instance, light colors like white can make the smallest space in your home appear visually larger.
  • Varying materials can be used thus creating a potential for cost savings. Typically, painted cabinets involve MDF or medium density fiberboard, which tends to be more cost effective than a solid wood piece. MDF tends to deliver a smooth finish at a much more reasonable cost.

Cons of painted cabinets:

  • Hidden grain. Knots and other variations add a visual interest to the cabinets and can make each cabinet piece unique. When these elements are hidden the cabinet can lose its personality.
  • Application mistakes will be exposed when painted. The cabinets are also prone to crack due to the natural expansion and contraction of the wood and prone to paint chipping. Longevity for painted cabinets is around 10 years.
  • Cost for painted cabinets is typically more expensive due to the expense of the professional application process.
  • Some colors may be hard to replicate. It is awfully hard to achieve an exact color match. Especially after a certain period has passed, as colors may change slightly over time.

Now moving into stained Pros:

Stains are popular with wood enthusiasts for their natural beauty and variation. Rather than just using colors as with paints to achieve a style or look, the wood specie along with a wide range of colors can reflect its own personality and style.

  • Stains give a more traditional and natural look, but that is not the only thing. Stains can also give a unique texture or bold look, either by using stain combinations or by using the grain that occurs naturally in the wood species.
  • Do not be fooled by the limited availability of stain colors. Paint may provide a lot of colors to choose from, but stains can be used in different styles which can be difficult to achieve in paint. For instance, you can create a very natural look with stains, where paint cannot since paint hides all the elements of the wood.
  • Easy to complete yourself so the costs are much lower than painted cabinets. They are easier to touch up, less prone to crack, and they have a longevity of about 20 – 30 years.
  • Stain allows more balancing in color and texture. The style you choose will depend on the hardwood you select. Staining can reveal the exquisite features of these hardwoods with the assistance of the right stain color. For instance, cherry can benefit greatly with the right stain as the stain will bring out the natural wood qualities.

The Cons:

  • There are fewer color options and stain when applied will expose any imperfections that are on the cabinet.
  • Although stains can reveal the beauty in woods, it can also highlight the unsightly elements too. Consistency in color can be hard to achieve, even when using darker stains.
  • Stains are limited to hardwood which creates a higher upfront investment vs a painted cabinet.
  • Stains show more dust and will become dull if aggressive cleaners are used.