Painted Cabinets or Stained Cabinets: Pros and Cons – Amy Mood

Amy Mood, AKBD, Designer at Kitchen Views in Mansfield, MA

Can’t decide whether to go with a painted cabinet or one with a stained finish?  This is a question that many of our customers go back and forth with when deciding on the details of their new kitchen.

Most of the pictures that we see in current design magazines or on home improvement programs show beautiful kitchens in varying shades of whites that create light, bright, open spaces.  Who wouldn’t want that, right?  While they look great in print, they may not be the most practical choice for everyone.

Before deciding, here are a few things to consider…

Does the added expense of a painted cabinet work with your budget?
Bear in mind that painted finishes are considered a premium and come with an upcharge, typically 10 or 15 percent more than a traditional stained finish.

How much maintenance are you willing to devote to your cabinets?
A painted finish will require some extra care over a stained cabinet and will show every day smudges and dirt more easily than a wood tone will.  Also, like any painted surface, no matter how good the finishing process is, it is possible to develop a chip here and there if struck by a hard object.  I would recommend purchasing an extra touch up kit from your cabinet manufacturer for any future needs.

Will the seasonal changes to a painted door bother you?
All wood expands and contracts with the seasons, especially here in New England, and cabinets are no exception.  In the winter you can expect for the joints on your cabinet doors to become more evident as humidity levels drop and the air is drier, particularly if you have a wood burning stove.  This will be more noticeable on a painted door over a stained door.  You may even see small fractures in the paint finish where the joints are and this is considered a characteristic of the paint finish and not a defect.  Some manufacturers use more stable materials (i.e. MDF) as the center panel of their doors in lieu of solid wood to lessen this effect. (For more on the effect of seasonal changes on cabinets, see Bob Russo’s post, Cabinets and the Winter Time.)

Stained Cabinets with Light Walls and Countertop

An example of stained cabinets in a kitchen with light walls, floor, and countertop, which helps give a light and airy feel to the space.

Not sure you want to make the leap to a painted cabinet? There are options to consider.  You can still achieve a light and airy feeling in your space with a stained wood cabinet by keeping your counter top, floor and wall and lighting selections on the lighter side.  There are also many choices in thermofoil and decorative veneer laminates to consider.

Samples are available to view at your nearest Kitchen Views showroom along with some expert advice to help you sort it all out.

Amy Mood, AKBD
Kitchen Views at National Lumber
71 Maple Street, Mansfield, MA 02048
Phone: 508-339-8020
amood@kitchenviews.com
www.kitchenviews.com

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1 Response to “Painted Cabinets or Stained Cabinets: Pros and Cons – Amy Mood”


  1. 1 Shawn Penoyer February 19, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks for the information. I will look forward for some ideas. Keep me updated.


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