Straight from the Experts: Should You Paint or Stain Your Cabinets?

When you are building or renovating a home, one of the big decisions you must make is cabinetry. Not only must you decide where to put cabinets and what type of cabinets to incorporate, but you also have to decide on the finish for the cabinets. The main question remains: should you paint or stain your cabinets?

Here is our comparison of the pros and cons of painting versus staining your cabinets. For homes in Jacksonville, Florida and surrounding areas, we also offer a comparison of which finish fits best with your kitchen appliances.


Your budget may very well impact your decision on whether to paint or stain your cabinets. Painted cabinets actually cost more in most cases, up to 15% more than stained cabinets. Although, for cabinets with lower-cost MDF (medium-density fiberboard), painting looks better than staining.

Staining is more affordable than painting as a general rule. However, depending on the type of material you select, staining could be more expensive. If you’re making your cabinet finish decision based solely on budget, then you may find stained cabinets to be the better choice.


If you’re looking for the most durable cabinet finish, stain is the best option. Stained cabinets are easy to touch up and don’t show marks or scuffs as easily as painted cabinets. It’s easy to find touch-up tools that’ll closely match your cabinet stain.

However, for painted cabinets, chips and marks show more on the smooth finish. It’s often very difficult to match the paint color exactly. Most often, painted cabinets have a spray finish which provides a smoother look than brushed paint. The downside is that touch-ups will show on the smooth finish as compared to a brushed finish.

The bottom line is that painted cabinets will likely show wear and tear more quickly than stained cabinets. Especially for families with children or for rental units, stained cabinets may be the better choice for durability.


Painted cabinets look amazing and allow for customizing that you just can’t get with stain. The smooth, clean finish of painted cabinets provides an upscale, modern look many homeowners desire. Popular colors are white, gray and cream. However, if you want a unique look for your kitchen, painted cabinets can be crafted with any color imaginable.

Depending on your personal taste, you may prefer stained cabinets. Stained cabinets offer a traditional, timeless style. Also, depending on the type and design of your home, stained cabinets may fit the overall feel of your home better than painted cabinets. If you like the look of the wood’s natural grain and knots, stain will show these features while paint will cover wood’s natural look.

For a truly upscale, customized design, painted cabinets win in aesthetics. While they may not be the top choice in other categories, painted cabinets give a modern, clean and smooth finish.

Appliance Finish    

If you have your heart set a specific finish for your kitchen appliances, that could impact the finish you choose for your cabinets. Stainless steel appliances will look great with stained or painted finishes. If you have your heart set on white kitchen appliances then white painted cabinets are the best choice.

For modern slate appliances, gray color tones for cabinets look best. If you have slate appliances, painting cabinets in gray is a great option.


The bottom line when deciding whether to paint or stain cabinets is to consider your budget, lifestyle and design preferences. Either way, updating your home with quality cabinets to flow well with your kitchen appliances and other features is a great investment.


Contact First Coast Supply, your local home supply company. Stop by our impressive showroom to get a true feel for any cabinetry, appliances or granite before making the big choice.