Painted Vs. Stained Cabinets

Painted Vs. Stained Cabinets: What’s The Preferred Choice?

When it comes to setting up your kitchen, you will certainly need to choose the perfect cabinet that is within your reach.

While this should be a natural choice to make, homeowners often get torn between which types of the cabinet to go for as they have to pick between painted vs. stained cabinets. You may have already made this choice or might probably be sitting on the fence.

Well, this article will hopefully alleviate your doubts and feed you with enough info to make a clear and logical choice.

Having said this, sit tight and let’s discuss the difference between painted and stained cabinets.

Painted Vs. Stained Cabinets

Painted Vs. Stained Cabinets

First of all, you must understand that there’s no right or wrong choice between stained and painted cabinets. Both stained and painted cabinets are fantastic options and will offer you years of satisfaction.

It all comes down to individual preference and what you want in your kitchen.

Essentially, painted cabinets will have a uniform and smooth finish with no disparity in their appearance.  Only the paint color will be noticeable because the paint sticks to the cabinet’s surface.

On the contrary, stained cabinet is much thinner than painted. This helps it to get absorbed into the wood, displaying the wood grain and other great features of your cabinet’s wood species.

Furthermore, paint works well on cabinets made of wood or Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). It can actually be tough to distinguish between the two materials once painted. However, if you choose a stained cabinet, you have to remember that you can only use it with natural wood cabinets.

Unavoidable scratches can occur, even in the most careful of environments. Retouching a stained cabinet is somewhat easy due to the vast array of touch-up markers available.

In contrast, painted cabinets can be a little more challenging to retouch because of the fact that the paint is usually sprayed on, not brushed.

This is basically what gives painted cabinets a smooth appearance, but it is difficult to recreate that appearance when trying to fix scratches with a paintbrush.

Finally, another critical factor to consider while choosing between painted and stained cabinets is the cost. Painted cabinets are usually about 15% more costly than stained cabinets; it just comes down to your desire and budget.

That said, below are other things you need to know about painted and stained cabinets:

When Painted Cabinets are Better

painted cabinet
A luxury kitchen

We are going to look out the strong areas of painted cabinet and why you may consider it.

Clean aesthetic

Most homeowners are quite particular about the finish of the cabinet, and painted cabinets come in this manner. Let’s consider the all-white kitchen cabinet; for example, you can feel the sleekness by just running your palm over the surface.

Its painted nature achieves this sleekness. If you aren’t a fan of seeing marks on your kitchen cabinets, then you may likely choose the painted cabinet.

A wide variety of colors

With painted cabinets, you can harness a wide range of colors as you can also customize your kitchen. On the plus side, paint tends to stick to the wood’s surface and wouldn’t get unnoticed amid knots and grains, unlike its stained counterpart.

Medium-density fiber-board

If you’re looking to cut costs as regards choosing an affordable cabinet material, then you can trust paint to conceal this secret.

A medium-density fiber-board is somewhat a lesser version of real wood. With paint, you can hardly tell the difference between MDF and real wood. Stained cabinets don’t perform well in this regard.

When Stained Cabinets are Better

stained cabinet
Luxury kitchen with tile floor, stained cabinets and marble counter top. 3d rendering

Here are some features that might convince you to go for stained cabinets:

Character features

Paint is somewhat thicker than stain, and this often translates to hiding some character features. If you are a natural lover of woods who would prefer to see grain imprints explicitly, then painted cabinets might be a bad pick for you.

Painted cabinets tend to conceal the natural look of woods, while stained cabinets display this feature explicitly as you’d be able to admire the real and unique features of the wood.


This is usually a core factor when it comes to purchasing a cabinet. Most homeowners are prone to letting their budgets influence their purchases.

Painted cabinets are often expensive and may likely drill a hole in your budget if you’re operating on the low.

However, expensiveness is crucially dependent on who you’re buying from. From reviews and researches, stained cabinets appear to be more budget-friendly as compared to painted cabinets. This is a huge plus, especially if you plan to flip your house.


Both stained and painted cabinets are relatively easy to maintain as soft foam or cloth should wipe off the dust.

However, painted cabinets shouldn’t be cleaned with water unless the paint used is washable as it might start fading. Stained cabinet has an advantage here as it can be easily washed with soap and water.


As mentioned earlier, stained cabinets blend quite well with the original finish as compared to painted cabinets. If part of your stained cabinet is chipped, a minor touch-up is all you need to blend it with the existing finish.

Whereas with painted cabinet, you may need to repaint the whole cabinet, which can be time and money sapping.


Paint is prone to crack over time, which would make the finish appear somewhat flaky. Stain tends to stay longer than paint because it is absorbed into the wood’s surface.

At the advent of humidity, wood is prone to contract and expand while the paint remains static; hence, cracks and breakages.

Which is more expensive painted or stained cabinets?

Painted cabinets are typically 15% more expensive than stained cabinets, so there is an upcharge for the clean, sleek look of paint. Making the choice between painted and stained cabinets does not have to be difficult if you know your preferences and the look you want to create.

Does painting kitchen cabinets decrease value?

Neutral, painted cabinets have a significant impact on the resale value of a home. On average, you can replace all of your kitchen cabinet hardware for $250 or less and paint your cabinets for just $300. That’s a significantly beneficial return on investment.

Is it better to paint or stain oak cabinets?

If you’re in search of a clean, modern look, paint your cabinets. Painted cabinets appear very smooth, hiding the grain of the wood. If you prefer a more natural, classic look, you should stain your cabinets. Staining your cabinets highlights the natural grain of the wood and offers a more traditional aesthetic.

Are painted cabinets worth it?

Painting costs a lot less than buying new cabinets and having them installed. If you need to make an economical choice, painting is the way to go. Even if you are not forced into making the most economical decision, painting is still an attractive option because it gives you more money to spend elsewhere.

Is it better to paint or stain oak cabinets

Are stained cabinets outdated?

Although not as popular, stained cabinets have not become extinct. Stained cabinets are not outdated. They very much still have a place in modern kitchen designs. While not the most popular, the stained cabinets have taken on different tones and remained relevant in designs such as the transitional kitchen trend.

Why you shouldn’t paint your cabinets?

Cabinets that aren’t solid wood—those made of stainless steel, vinyl, laminate, engineered wood, or any other non-solid wood material—are a much bigger task to undertake as they aren’t as easy to paint. Paint will not adhere to the finished cabinet surface easily and will often peel off or chip.

Should I roll or brush my kitchen cabinets?

For wood, brushing is fine, but you may want to hire a professional for a good finish. Using a roller to paint cabinets is a lot faster than brush painting, however, the fabric on the roller will create a ‘bobbly’ texture on the surface. The texture a roller puts on cabinets makes it unsuitable for gloss paint.

Are honey oak cabinets outdated?

Honey Oak Cabinets

A staple in kitchens of the 1980s and ’90s, these golden-toned wood cabinets have fallen out of favor as white and gray cabinets have risen in popularity. If you don’t like your light-stained cabinets, but they’re in good shape, consider refinishing or painting what’s there.

How long does a painted cabinet last?

When considering painting your cabinets versus replacing them, one major question you should ask is “How long will my painted cabinets last?” With proper care for your cabinets, you can expect them to last 8-10 years.

How much should I pay to have my kitchen cabinets painted?

Painting your cabinets costs $3 to $10 per square foot or $30 to $60 per linear foot for all supplies, materials and labor. Sometimes contractors will charge $100 per door, $25 per drawer or $75 to $150 per cabinet.

Stained or Painted Cabinets | Conclusion

Deciding between painted vs. stained cabinets does not have to be challenging if you know exactly what you want.

With the factors we mentioned above, you should have a clear and precise mindset for choosing. It is also imperative to note that there is no such thing as a wrong decision as this article only seeks to inform whatever choice you make.

As earlier stated, it all deals with personal preference. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below.

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