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

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make when you build or renovate a home is your cabinetry. Not only must you decide where to put the cabinets and what type of cabinets to incorporate, but you also have to decide on the finish that fits your aesthetic. So, the question remains: should you paint or stain your cabinets?

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


Painted cabinets look amazing and offer customization options you just can’t get with stain. The smooth, clean finish of painted cabinets provides a modern, high-end look many homeowners crave. Colors like white, gray and cream are particularly popular right now. However, if you want a unique look for your kitchen, painted cabinets are versatile enough to satisfy all your creative ambitions.

Based on your personal preference, you may favor stained cabinets. Stained cabinets offer an antique, traditional style. Also, depending on the type and design of your home, stained cabinets may fit the overall aesthetic of your home better than painted cabinets. If you like the look of natural wood grain and knots, a stain shows these features while paint covers 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.


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 alternatives. 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 make your decision based solely on budget, then you may find stained cabinets to be the better choice.

Appliance Finish    

If your heart is set on a specific finish for your kitchen appliances, that could impact the finish you choose for your cabinets. Stainless steel appliances look great with both stained and 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.


If you desire the most durable cabinet finish, then 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 closely match your cabinet stain.

However, painted cabinets are more vulnerable to visible chips and marks. It’s often difficult to match the paint color exactly when you attempt repairs. Most often, painted cabinets have a spray finish which provides a smoother look than brushed paint. The downside is that touch-ups show more prominently on the smooth finish compared to a brushed finish.

Here’s the bottom line — 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.


When it comes to deciding whether to paint or stain your cabinets you’ll have to consider your budget, design preferences and lifestyle. No matter which you choose, updating your home with quality cabinets to compliment the rest of your kitchen appliances and other features is a great investment.

Contact First Coast Supply for all of your designer home supply needs. Visit our impressive showroom to get an up-close look at our cabinetry, appliances and granite selections before you make the big choice.