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Brush & Roll Painting Pro Tips


Should You Paint or Stain Kitchen Cabinets? Pros & Cons

Should You Paint or Stain Kitchen Cabinets? Pros & Cons

You may not realize it but cabinetry is one of the most complex parts of a home. Whether you’re buying new kitchen cabinets or refinishing existing ones, you will find yourself at some point having to choose between paint and stain. As you dig a little deeper, you will also notice that the two finishes are totally different, and each has its own pros and cons.

If you’re refinishing your kitchen cabinets for the first time, choosing between the two options might be confusing. Our experts at Brush & Roll Painting are sharing the differences between paint and stain and the pros and cons of each to help you choose the best option for your situation and preferences.


Paint- Pros

1.) Paint offers more color options.

If you’re considering experimenting with bold colors, then using a stain might limit you. Paint allows you to showcase different hues since it doesn’t seep in and get lost into the wood grains and knots like stain does. You will be able to customize your cabinets to the maximum with color.

2.) Paint gives a clean aesthetic.

If you’re looking for a crisp kitchen design without wood character marks, then paint is your best bet. Using colors like white, cream, and shades of blue offers a sleek, clean finish that you can’t simply pull off using the stain.

3.) Paint Applies Better to MDF.

Most homeowners looking to cut cabinet costs tend to use medium-density fiberboards (MDF). While it’s well-finished and can be left as is, this material takes paint pretty well. Once it’s painted, it’s difficult to tell the difference between this material and real wood.


Paint- Cons

Paint Tends to Cost More.

Painting your kitchen cabinets is generally not very costly, however, if you compare it to staining, you will notice it costs a bit more. The same difference reflects even when buying the cabinets –painted ones will always cost more. If you’re painting or installing cabinets in a particularly large kitchen, this difference in cost will be more amplified.

Paint Hides Wood Character

Unlike stain, paint doesn’t get absorbed into the wood, so it forms a thick film on the surface of your cabinet. This ultimately covers all the grains, knots, and other wood’s character. If you don’t like seeing all these “blemishes,” then this might be a plus. But for homeowners who appreciate the value of wood’s natural beauty, this might go down as a con.

Harder to Touch Up.

Kitchen cabinet finishes wear out and deteriorate over time and will need a touch-up every now and then before the major repainting. If you bought your cabinets prefabricated, you might not be able to tell the exact paint color that was used. And even if you did, chances are it has faded over time and lost a bit of its luster. If the cabinets were initially spray-painted, it might even be harder to replicate the current finish during touch-up.

Copy of Ellis Before 3

Stain- Pros

Stain is Easier to Touch Up.

Conversely, touch-up on stained cabinets is much easier and even more fun. It’s easy to find touch-up markers for different stain hues. And even if you can’t find an exact match, there is always a stain out there that resembles your current finish. If your wood has lots of grains, touch-up will seamlessly blend in.

Stain Showcases the Wood Character

Stain is the best option if you’re looking to showcase the wood’s character. Since stain is thinner than paint, it seeps into the surface, which can enhance the natural beauty of your wood. To many homeowners, this is a plus.

Stain is Cheaper

The overall cost of staining or installing stained cabinets in your kitchen will depend on a number of factors such as kitchen size, manufacturer, cabinet construction, etc. But staining tends to be generally cheaper, and this can come in handy if you’re considering selling your house or just want to keep your remodeling costs low.

Stain- Cons

On the downside, stain doesn’t look good when applied to MDF, so if you’re considering installing MDF cabinets, you have to forego staining. In addition, if your wood has some undesirable blemishes, the stain will show it all. And this might not be a great option if you’re refinishing aged kitchen cabinets.


At Brush & Roll Painting, we know that home painting is a serious investment. We also believe any paint job is only as good as the prep. If you want a quality paint job that will stand the test of time, give us a call at (402) 932-9764 or schedule an estimate online.