Painted Vs. Stained Cabinets, Pros & Cons

Fortunately, you can have an updated and upgraded kitchen without remodeling your space. Changing the finish of your kitchen cabinets will most likely give you a new look and feel you are hoping to gain without breaking the bank. Kitchen cabinets typically are finished with a stain or paint, two very different products that produce different looks. 

If you’re planning to give your kitchen a makeover by refinishing the cabinets, you’ll need to understand the pros and cons of both paint and stain to determine which finish is better for your desired look and lifestyle. 

Painted Kitchen Cabinets


  • Clean Aesthetic: Painted kitchen cabinetry provides a clean and crisp aesthetic that works well in many decors. Paint colors bring a sleek finish to your kitchen cabinets, covering over any natural markings on the cabinets for a flawless finish. 
  • Endless Color Options: Paint comes in virtually any color you can imagine, allowing you to be as creative as you’d like when upgrading your kitchen. Paint allows you to showcase one or multiple colors to customize the look of your kitchen.
  • Better Application To MDF Cabinets: Many kitchen cabinets are made from MDF (medium-density fiberboard) as an effective way to minimize costs. MDF cabinets take to paint well, making them almost indistinguishable from natural wood cabinets once they’re finished. 


  • Hides Natural Features Of Cabinets: Since paint is thicker and more opaque than stain, the natural features of kitchen cabinets will get covered. If you want to see the wood grains and knots of your cabinets, paint is probably not the way to go.
  • Tends To Cost More: Painted cabinets may not be as budget-friendly as those that are stained. While the cost difference may be negligible for some kitchen setups, it may be more significant for others, depending on the scale of the project. 

Stained Kitchen Cabinets


  • Showcases Natural Wood Features: Stain brings out the beauty of your kitchen cabinet’s natural wood features. Since it is thinner than paint, stain showcases the wood’s distinctive look. 
  • Easier To Touch Up: Touch-up markers are made to closely match different colors of stain, making touching up scrapes and scratches easy. Since the natural features of the wood already show through, stained cabinets can disguise more marks than those painted. 
  • Minimal Costs: Cost hinges on factors like kitchen size and cabinet construction, but stain costs less than paint. 


  • Stain doesn’t work well on MDF: If you have kitchen cabinets made of MDF, the stain will not take to the finish or paint. 
  • Dark Stains Won’t Hide Dust Well: Dark stains and paints won’t hide dust or lighter tones. Dust particles stuck in grease will stand out, making darker stain colors more upkeep. 

Professional Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing

Whether you refinish your kitchen cabinets with paint or stain, hiring a professional painting contractor will ensure your satisfaction with the finished project. 

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