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Staining vs. Painting Cabinets

Staining vs. Painting Cabinets

There’s something so invigorating about changing the color of your home. You almost feel like your entire life is changing. I know I certainly feel a boost of serenity when I wake up and see my freshly painted home.

Most people start by picking out the color of the walls, but I like to choose the color of the cabinets first. But unlike walls, there is a choice between staining and painting cabinets.

Choosing between these two options is not easy, as each one has good sides and bad sides.

Choosing between painting and staining the cabinets depends on the vision and style you have for the hallway, storage room, kitchen, and pantry. If you would like color and customization, then you should paint them. But if you want to keep the traditional wood look, then choose to stain them.

It all depends on how the homeowner wants their home to look and what style they are going for.

Some styles require a complete and total color and design change, while other styles just refresh the current cabinet style.

How to Choose Between Painting or Staining Cabinets

Choosing a new color and style scheme for your home can be difficult. Choose the wrong style and within six months you’ll be going through the entire decorating process all over again.

But choose the right style and coloring and your home will be the envy of all of your neighbors for the next year or so.

Many consider choosing the paint for the walls is the most difficult part of decorating a room or the interior of a house or apartment. But others believe the difficult part is the cabinets.

The cabinets have to match the new color of the walls. But in order for them to match, the decorator must choose between painting or staining.

When choosing between painting and staining, the style you choose will ultimately determine if the cabinet’s need to be painted or stained.

Pros and Cons of Painting Cabinets

As mentioned above, painting and staining both have their good and bad sides. Some people prefer the rustic wood grain looks, so they stick with staining.

But others want a completely different look that makes everything stand out, so they will go with paint.

What are the main pros and cons of painting cabinets?

Endless customization: As long as it goes with your design, every color under the rainbow is at your disposal. You can fit your cabinets bright pink or as white as the freshly fallen snow.Painting is nearly permanent: Changing from wooden cabinets to painted cabinets is a move that should not be taken lightly. Once the wooden cabinet has been covered with paint, there is no way to change your mind and remove the paint and replace it with stain. Be absolutely sure you do no longer care about the wood grain or else you could find yourself purchasing brand new cabinets.
Once paint is dry, the process is finished: Painting the cabinet takes more concentration than painting the walls. Is important to follow the grain of the wood and the cabinet design. But once the paint is dry, there’s nothing else that needs to be done.Does not last long: Paint eventually becomes dull and loses some of its color. The average time a person waits between painting their cabinets is 7 to 8 years. After a whole decade, your cabinets will look old and in need of refreshing, no matter how well you painted them previously.
Paint is more expensive: If money is your main concern, then using paint may not be a good idea. Paint is more expensive than wood stains. Plus, paint usually need primer beforehand. Paint is usually 5-10% more expensive than wood stain. But this will not be an issue for people who are not on a tight budget.

Pros and Cons of Staining Cabinets

Staining lasts three times longer than painting: As long as the stain is done correctly, you don’t have to restain your cabinets for a long time. The average time it takes for wood stain to dull is 30 years. So, once you stain your cabinets, the next generation can handle the next staining.Requires more work after it is dry: Unlike paint, the work isn’t done when the wood stain is dry. Excess wood stains will have to be removed. It will also have to be sanded down after it dries, because the liquid from the wood stain causes wood to expand.
Can be painted over if the decorator changes their mind: Wood stain doesn’t change the design of the grain. It will just change the color. If the decorator doesn’t like their original vision, they can change the color of the stain or paint over it.Stains are less expensive than paint: Stained cabinets may help you save on money. Not only does staying not require primer before then, but stain is actually cheaper than paint. It isn’t cheap by much, usually about 5-10% cheaper, but every bit helps when you’re on a budget!
Emphasizes the natural feeling of the wood: It is very easy to pair wooden cabinets with nearly any design. People really like well-made wooden cabinets.Only available in a dozen colors or so: Sorry there’ll be no rainbow color customization in the wood stain section. Stains tend to favor natural tones and light tones and gray. Plus, it’s much harder to turn dark-stained wood back into light stained wood.

What About Black Stain?

So, you’re planning on painting or staining your cabinets black? That is a bold move!

Changing the color of your cabinets to black can be an interesting way to choose between paints and stains.

Painting a cabinet black will ensure that you get the darkest black possible. The black cabinets will match with the walls and the tiles perfectly.

But, staining the cabinets black will not bring out the design of the wood’s grain nearly as much. The black color will not be as dark as it would be if it was painted, but the cabinets will have a wonderful wood design that will make the outside pop.

Conclusion to Staining vs. Painting Your Cabinets

There are several pros and cons a decorator must consider before they decide to use a stain or paint on their cabinets. There are many more paint colors than there are stain colors.

But once the cabinets are painted, there’s no going back to their natural wood grain. Paint is more expensive than wood stain and will also require an additional primer.

After staining wood, the cabinets need to be sanded down.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.