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Stains vs Paints For Kitchen Cabinets

If you’re looking to redesign or update your kitchen, you may find yourself deciding between stains and paints for your kitchen cabinets. Whether you’ll be painting or staining your kitchen cabinets depends on the material they are made out of, as well as the look you have in mind for your kitchen. Just like anything you might choose for your kitchen, there are pros and cons associated with each choice. Let’s take a further look at painting or staining kitchen cabinets. 


Painting or staining kitchen cabinets will change the appearance and tone of your kitchen. Often, painting kitchen cabinets is considered to be a more modern style, as you can incorporate different colors that aren’t limited to the natural grain of the wood. Staining kitchen cabinets brings out the natural grain and texture in the wood of your cabinets. Staining kitchen cabinets often falls into a more traditional, classic look for your kitchen. Displaying the organic features of the wood in your kitchen gives it a clean, rustic look. 


Staining kitchen cabinets is often cheaper than painting. Stains, more often than not, cost less than paint, and also take less coats on the wood for a finished product. Painting kitchen cabinets will require some extra effort, including priming the wood with paint primer. In most cases, paint will cost more than stains, however not so much more that it should be your deciding factor between painting and staining kitchen cabinets. 


When looking at which will last the longest in your kitchen between stains and paints, stains are more likely your best choice. Paints, especially lighter colors, will very easily show scuffs, scratches, chipping, and other damages. One of the most frustrating parts of using paint for kitchen cabinets is attempting to repaint or repair the small damages. Some time after initially painting your cabinets, it may be difficult to find or match that exact same paint color or shade. 

Stains will be much easier to match, even after the initial application, as you’ll be more likely to have leftover stain than paint. Applying more stain to your kitchen cabinets as a touchup will take less stain than a touchup to cabinets with paint. 


Stains and paints apply differently to different materials. Consider what your kitchen cabinets are made out of and determine which application would be better to fit your design ideas. Stains are great for any type of natural wood. The purpose of wood stains is to bring out the natural texture and grain in the wood by absorbing the stain into the wood fibers. Conversely, paint sits on top of whatever material it’s applied to, and often needs more than one coat for a finished product. 

Materials like MDF, or medium-density fiberwood, tend to show paint better because of the surface texture. Since MDF has a smoother surface texture than organic, natural wood, paint easily rolls on and it makes applying additional coats of paint much easier as well. 

Wrapping Up

Ultimately, the choice between painting and staining kitchen cabinets is up to you, your style, your vision, and the materials you have to work with. As we’ve mentioned earlier, stains are best for natural and organic wood material that will highlight the raw texture of the wood itself. Painting your kitchen cabinets can provide you with a bigger selection of colors to choose from to match the rest of your kitchen. However, painting kitchen cabinets would require more paint than staining kitchen cabinets would require, and will hide the natural surface texture if painting over organic wood. 

Cleveland Cabinets

Whether you’re painting or staining kitchen cabinets, come to Cleveland Cabinets for the best kitchen cabinet materials in the Greater Cleveland area! Check out our website and visit one of our showrooms today! Call (216) 459-7676 today for more information!

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