Painted or stained is the usual choice when adding new cabinets to your home. Of course, you can go with unfinished, but most people go with some form of finish.

With stained, you keep more of a natural wood look, but painted cabinets give you more variety of color. So, which is actually best?

While there isn’t a definitive answer, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of both. In the end, it all depends on the look you want in your kitchen, bathroom or other rooms.

Flawless Or Flawed

If you want a more flawless finish, painted cabinets might be the way to go. Paint covers up the knots and blemishes in wood. Plus, if you want a clean, bright look, choosing a white shade of paint gives you an airy, classic that’s easy to decorate.

On the other hand, if you want to showcase the natural wood grain, you’ll want to choose stained cabinets instead. The stain adds color without hiding the wood itself.


For some, this may be the deciding factor between painted or stained cabinets. For instance, on KompareIt, having cabinets professionally painted costs $2,000 to $5,000. There’s more labor involved and you’ll need at least several coats. Plus, paint itself is more expensive.

Staining costs between $1,500 and $4,000. Naturally, both cost less if the painting or staining is done while your cabinets are being built.

Colorful Or Natural

This is usually the main deciding factor between painted or stained cabinets. Do you want a colorful kitchen or a more natural wood finish? As HGTV states, you have endless options for painting cabinets. Go as a timeless or as personal as you want. With staining, you’re limited to clear, light, medium and dark wood tone shades.

Fixing Knicks

One thing you should consider is how difficult knicks are to fix. No matter how careful you are, you’re going to knick the finish on your cabinets at some point. You don’t want to have to completely re-do your cabinets to fix the problem.

With painted cabinets, it’s a little more difficult because you’ll have to find the right shade. For white cabinets, this isn’t too much of an issue. For other colors, getting the perfect shade can be tricky. Plus, you have to ensure the patch is the same thickness to avoid a dimpled effect.

For stained cabinets, stain or wood colored markers allow you to quickly fix any knicks in the finish. Since the marker absorbs into the paint, much like stain, it tends to blend better for a more flawless fix.

Another thing to keep in mind is paint will gradually start to chip. It’s not a matter of if, but when. When done right, painted cabinets can last 10 years or more before they need to be refinished. Stained cabinets keep their color, but may lose their luster over time.

Changing Your Mind

Before you make any final decisions, think about how long you plan to keep your cabinets the way they are. If you want to change your look every few years, you’ll want to choose painted cabinets. It’s much easier to remove the paint and start over with a new color.

With stain, the color is actually absorbed into the wood itself. Your only option is to go darker if you want to change the color. Even sanding the cabinets won’t completely remove the stain color. Think of stain as a more permanent option.

Hiding Dust

Finally, consider how often you want to clean your cabinets. For this one, it’s not so much a matter of painted or stained. It’s about how light or dark you go. Darker paints and stains show dust much more. Lighter colors still get dusty, but the dust blends in more. No matter what type of finish you choose, consider how the color works with your room. You’ll likely have the look for years to come.

Still trying to choose between painted or stained cabinets? Contact our friendly team today to find out which works best for your needs.

Image: Charles Deluvio