Updating Your Kitchen or Bathroom Cabinets – Should You Paint or Stain?

If you are looking to change things up a bit in your kitchen or bathroom, consider simply changing the look of your cabinets with paint or stain. This option is both cost-effective and it has a significant impact on altering the look and feel of the room. But deciding on whether to paint or stain the cabinets may be overwhelming. As with all decisions, there are pros and cons to both choices. At the end of the day, you can take these pluses and minuses into account and then decide what makes sense for your rooms and style. In this article, we wanted to give you some aspects of painting and staining that might help you in deciding which is right for you: paint or stain.

Painting Cabinets

Painted cabinets are “on-trend.” If you have looked in magazines or watched any television shows that show kitchens and bathrooms, you are seeing a lot of paint on the cabinets. Painting is the choice to make if you are not a fan of natural wood with its marks and imperfections. Here are some of the pros where painting is concerned.



With paint, your color options are endless. You can go with a crisp, clean look using the classic all-white or cream cabinets. Or, you may want to use something a little different for your neutral, like a gray or blue. These colors have been gaining in popularity recently. But, what if you really want something that has lots of character, like green? Green for kitchen cabinets is seeing a huge upswing over the last few years. So, as you can see, paint gives you a lot of choices that are fun.

painted kitchen cabinets

Paint is better applied on MDF (medium-density fiberboard)

If your cabinets are made of medium-density fiberboard (in other words, a particle board), paint adheres better than a stain. Once painted, you can barely tell the difference between fiberboard and real wood.


Presents a clean aesthetic

Paint gives cabinets a sleek finish that you don’t get with stain. If you are not a fan of the character marks of wood, then you want to stick to paint. It definitely gives a more clean and modern look.

Staining Cabinets

If you like the character of wood, then staining is your thing. Because stain is thinner than paint, it seeps into the surface of the wood and enhances the marks to show its beauty and character. Here are some of the pros of having your cabinets stained:

painted bathroom cabinets

Emphasizes the features of the wood

Stain allows you to see the distinctive features that paint covers up. With stain, the beauty of the grains in the wood, and the unique character of the cabinets are emphasized. Cabinets made of oak and walnut are the best candidates for staining.

Easy to touch up

When scratches and marks occur, it’s much easier to touch up stain than paint. Touch-up markers for stains are easy to find. A stain gives variations in color that paint doesn’t, so when touch up is needed, a marker that is close but not exact works just fine.

Usually costs less

Stain usually keeps the costs lower than paint, which is a big benefit if you are renovating on a budget. 

Your Style

In the final analysis, you should think about your style and the overall look you want. To recap, painted cabinets lean toward a sleek, clean design, with white being the most popular color. If you want color to be the focus and not the look of the wood, then you want to paint rather than stain. On the other hand, stain shows off the unique character of the wood by seeping into the surface. Stain still gives it color, but preserves the natural textures at the same time.

Contact Osborne Painting

At Osborne Painting, we have extensive experience in resurfacing kitchen and bathroom cabinets, whether using paint or stain. Cabinets are focal points, therefore you want them done correctly. You can rest assured that our painters will do a professional job that will add to the beauty of your rooms!