If you’re looking to update or change the look of your current kitchen on a budget, changing the face of your cabinets can work wonders. It is not only a cost effective option, but it can completely change the look and feel of your kitchen when it’s done. Two ways to make this change to your kitchen cabinets is to either paint them or stain them. But the big decision is – which one to choose? 

Painted cabinets are on trend right now in the world of interior design. Whether they are mustard yellow, steel blue, emerald green or classic white – painted cabinets are all the rage. The exact type of paint that you choose for your cabinets can also affect how they will look, how well they can withstand wear and tear, and how water resistant they are. (We will dive deeper into the different types of paint to use on cabinets and pros and cons in the next couple of weeks). 

Paint works well on cabinets that are made of wood or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). Once it is painted, it can be difficult to differentiate between the two materials. If you go with stain, keep in mind that it can only be used with natural wood cabinets, so that could be the deciding factor.

Because paint adheres to the cabinets surface, only the color of the paint will be noticeable. Painted cabinets will have a smooth and uniform finish with no variations in their appearance. In contrast, stain is much thinner than paint. This allows it to be absorbed into the wood, showcasing the wood grain and other unique features of your cabinet’s particular species of wood. You can choose from a variety of stains – from clear to a very dark mahogany or chocolate brown. This can add a drastic touch while still letting the wood grain and texture show through. You also have the option to choose the type of finish you want including glossy, semi gloss and matte. Some stains even have UV protection to help it last even longer and protect it from discoloration. 

Touching up already stained cabinets is a relatively easy project thanks to a variety of touch up markers. Even the most careful environment, inevitable nicks and scratches occur. Paint is more difficult to touch-up since it is usually sprayed on and not brushed. This is what gives painted cabinets their smooth appearance, but is hard to recreate that look when repairing nicks and scratches with a paint brush. 

The last factor to consider and the most important for some, is the cost. Painted cabinets are about 15% more expensive than stained cabinets. That makes it a big markup for the clean, sleek look of painted cabinets. Making the choice between paint or stain doesn’t have to be difficult when you know the look you want to create.