Home Maintenance | 06.23.2022

Stained Cabinets or Painted? Here’s How to Decide

Choosing the finish of your cabinets is perhaps one of the most significant decisions of customizing your new house. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home and where you will spend a good chunk of time. When you head into a design center, a designer will likely present you with two finish choices for your cabinets: stain or paint? While it can ultimately come down to preference for a specific style, here are some pros and cons of both options to help you decide.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Stained Cabinets


  • Traditional, timeless style

    If you’d like a more traditional look in your kitchen, consider choosing stain. Though specific stain colors may be trendy at the moment, a wood finish is always a beautiful, timeless look.

  • Shows the natural features of the wood

    Stain soaks into the wood, creating different color tones and showcasing the different colors of the knots and natural wood grains. The stain also protects the cabinets by allowing them to expand and contract without cracking or chipping.

  • Easy to touch up

    Nicks or scratches are easy to cover with touch-up markers. Even if you can’t find an exact match for the cabinet, the natural texture and finish of the wood can make it blend in easily.

  • More cost-effective

    While several factors determine kitchen cabinets’ cost, stain keeps costs low. This is a big benefit if you’re sticking to a budget.


  • Shows blemishes very easily

    While some people want uneven grain distributions or blemishes of the wood to show, others might not. When choosing a stain, consider that the stain will always take the backseat to the wood, and select your type of wood appropriately.

  • Doesn’t work on MDF

    Stain doesn’t absorb into MDF very well, and there are no grains or surface features of the wood to enhance. If you’ve chosen MDF for your cabinet material, it’s best not to choose a stain.

  • Is best on high-quality wood

    On the other hand, if you’ve chosen hardwood such as cherry, oak, maple, or walnut, the stain will accentuate the natural grain and allow the wood to be a statement piece in the room.

  • Limited color choices

    Because stains are meant to highlight the natural beauty of the wood, there are limited colors. You’ll likely find reds, browns, and golds when choosing a stain color.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of Painted Cabinets


  • Clean, modern aesthetic

    Painted cabinets bring a crisp, modern design to a kitchen. Painted white kitchen cabinets are a staple in modern homes that will probably be around for a while.

  • Smooth finish

    Paint covers all the natural textures and blemishes of the wood, resulting in a smooth finish that many homeowners prefer. In addition, you can choose a paint finish that is satin, glossy, or matte.

  • Can choose any color you’d like

    The color customization possibilities are endless with paint because you can choose whatever color you want. Some homeowners prefer using multiple colors, while others paint all the cabinets in the kitchen with one color.

  • Works with MDF or a less expensive wood

    If you’re planning on painting, you can use MDF or other cheaper woods because the paint disguises all the wood’s character, grain, and movement.


  • More expensive

    While the exact number might differ based on the cabinet company, painted cabinets are often at least 15% more expensive than their stained counterparts.

  • Hides the wood’s features

    This is all based on personal preference, of course. But if you want to see any natural grains or the character of the wood, keep in mind that paint will cover them all up.

  • Shows wear and tear

    Painted cabinets can be prone to marks and chips. If you’ve got children, pets, or have a rental unit, this may be something you want to consider.

  • Harder to touch up

    It can be tricky to touch up painted cabinets. You may not know the exact paint color on the cabinets, or it might be hard to find an exact match. In addition, many cabinet builders apply paint with a spray instead of a brush or roller, which can make things tricky if you’re using a brush for touch-ups.

Consider Your Style

Ultimately, deciding to paint or stain your cabinets will most likely come down to the overall style you want in the kitchen. Are you going for a traditional design, or would you prefer a clean, modern kitchen? Maybe you’d like a mixture of both paint and stained cabinets? The design possibilities are endless!

See the Big Picture

When considering paint or stained cabinets, consider the rest of the finishes in your home. You’ll want to keep the design and style consistent throughout the home. For example, to help your design blend seamlessly but keep things unique, choose the same cabinet styles around the house but play around with mixing and matching finishes.

Pick Your Perfect Finish at Our Design Center

Still not sure where to start with your kitchen design? Come on into Arive Home’s design center. Our award-winning design team has years of experience and a fresh eye for trends. Walk through our model homes and see our team’s new, innovative designs. When you come into our design center, you’ll work with a qualified professional who can help you select your cabinetry finishes, paint color for your walls, and the perfect flooring. We genuinely listen to what you want and how to integrate your ideas to create stunning and unique homes.

If you’re searching for homes for sale in Utah, Arive Homes has plenty of communities throughout Utah. Check out all the locations where we build to find the perfect home. At Arive, we are committed to creating an exceptional experience for all our clients. Contact us today to get started building your dream home.