Photo features both painted cabinets and stained cabinet island by New River Cabinetry

Should I buy painted or stained cabinets?


First thing to consider is your lifestyle, how much wear and tear will your new cabinets get? How much maintenance are you willing to keep up? Stained cabinets are the most durable of wood cabinets. With painted cabinets you have to be careful to avoid chipping and so you don’t want to be banging your cast iron pans into the corners of the doors! Another important thing to know is painted cabinets and water don’t mix. You must not leave water on them and never ever wash them with a sponge or water. Think of them as a more sensitive cabinet that requires more mindfulness when using and cleaning. (email for specific use and care info)


Consider the cost vs. value for your cabinets. It is important to get the most quality for your money. Purchasing new cabinets is an investment in your home not only to be functional and enjoyable but give you a good return of investment. A standard wood type stained cabinet such as oak or alder will give you the most bang for you buck when it comes to purchasing a wood kitchen cabinet. Painted wood cabinets cost about 10-15% more than standard wood cabinet offerings and only about 5%-7% more than a premium wood cabinet like Maple or Cherry.

Characteristics to consider:

All solid wood cabinetry expands and contracts at the joints with temperature and humidity changes. You may have never noticed this on a stained wood cabinet but this is where painted cabinets differ. At the miter joint or mortise and tenon joints on the cabinet door frame you will see a hairline seam- usually after one full year of seasonal changes. It is important to note that this is not a manufactures defect and even the most expensive cabinet on the market is not immune to the effects of temperature and humidity on wood.

If you think this will bother you the alternative is a MDF door with a painted finish which will give you a 100% seamless door. The only downside is that it is not wood. (Can’t have it all!)