The type of finish you used for your kitchen cabinets didn’t used to even be a question. It was paint. Always paint. Stained cabinets were dated and and normally either too yellow or too red and painted cabinets allowed you any color option your heart desired! Most importantly, paint allowed you a bright white kitchen…something everyone loved. But as always, everything comes back around and this is the case for staining. With the popularity of the SoCal look, a light, waxed white oak cabinet has become super popular and with it, the reemergence of the stained cabinet. There are so many more stain options available now so the color options are expanded…even with stain. And you can still keep the natural wood look instead of completely hiding any sort of graining like you would with paint. That being said, there are still pros and cons to both options. So aside from the style you’re wanting to achieve, consider these items before making your cabinet finish choice.
As we mentioned before, paint will completely cover the wood grain on any sort of cabinet. This can be an attractive option for those who prefer a cleaner look and wants something very tailored. More modern kitchens would definitely be the place for a painted cabinet…but also consider the rest of your home. What’s the style you’re trying to achieve and would a wood grain work well with that?
On the other hand, if you want to show off the character of your cabinets and love the fact that they are real wood, you may not want to cover them up with paint but rather highlight the natural beauty with a well suited stain.
It’s important to consider what your cabinets are made of as well. Obviously a cabinet that is not real wood cannot be stained. The stain is simply pointless since there’s no natural wood material to enhance and no graining to show. If your home has cabinet doors that are a material other than wood, paint is really your only choice.
Don’t be discouraged though. The nice thing about paint is that the color options are endless! You can literally paint your cabinets any color you want! Most stains are some version of black, brown, grey, or white. There is a variety of tones and hues within those neutral families however, there’s no getting a true blue or green cabinet which some people want.
Practicality is a big factor when it comes to kitchen cabinet finishes since the kitchen is a high traffic area. Stained cabinets, because they have more movement in the graining, actually hide more imperfections. Painted cabinets, though, typically show any sort of nick or ding. The paint color is a smooth coat so any break in that coating will be visible. For this same reason, painted cabinets are harder to touch up whereas stained cabinets are easier to fix.
Depending on where you purchase your cabinetry, it can cost more when it comes painted. Most common stain finishes are less than a painted finish, however, the newer stains don’t always fit into the “inexpensive category”.
Finally, consider what is required when you want to change your cabinet color down the road. A painted finish can usually just be primed and painted over whereas a stained finish has to be stripped and re-stained which requires a lot more work.
It’s a lot to consider! The nice thing is that you can get a lot of look with either option, you just have to make sure the practical side works well for your lifestyle!