pros and cons of painted vs. stained woodwork

phoggieSeptember 1, 2008

We are in the planning stages of building a new home...and DH asked me this morning, painted or stained woodwork. I am totally confused on day I want painted, and then the next, stained.

What are the pros and cons of each and how did you decide? I have seen pics of stained doors and painted woodwork, but is that something that is normally done? I think I have pretty well settled for stained cherry cabinets, but the doors and woodwork are a big problem...

so I am asking your advice....and mixed woodwork pics will be appreciated....thanks,

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Stained can be initially more expensive than painted because you need to use nice wood for stained and can use cheaper wood or mdf for painted. However, painted can require more upkeep after it is installed (at least in our experience) because it shows dings, marks, etc., more and needs to be repainted more often than you need to refinish stained woodwork. What you chose depends upon the style of your house, what you like and budget. We have a prairie/craftsman style house, and my DH really likes stained, so stained was the obvious choice for us. They all look nice. Mixed is probably not as common as all stained or all painted, but mixed is often done where I live and looks very nice.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 2:25PM
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We did mixed. Like carolyn said, I think it is definitely a personal preference. We have a lot of "wood" in our house, so the painted trim with the stained cabinetry, doors and window worked for us. Here is the best picture I could dig up of the combo.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 6:14PM
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Thanks for the pic. Are your doors stained and the woodwork around them and the woodwork at the floor white?
I kinda like that look.....I also like some stained, but think all of it would be too much. Do you have a fireplace? If so, how did you do that? Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 8:50PM
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Our current house has all paint upstairs and mostly stained downstairs. Upstairs trim and doors have been repainted three times in 22 years--one room four times. Stained woodwork has never been redone, just orange oiled twice. I love the crispness of white trim in bedrooms, but we will be going full stain in the new house!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 9:42PM
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phoggie, Our doors are all stained. Our windows are stained. The casing around the windows and doors is painted along with the base trim. Here is a picture of our fireplace... I have lots of pictures. Just let me know if there is something in particular you are interested in... We just moved in this weekend, so please excuse the mess! j.

In this pic, you can see the corner of the stained door with the painted trim.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 10:30PM
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jay and all others~~ please post any pics you might have on your woodwork....LR, Kitchens, BD, Bath. etc....enjoy seeing them. I don't know why this is such a hard decision for me to make.....guess I like them both. Maybe I need to try to decide on how I want to go with paint colors....darker colors look better with white....light colors look better with stained....or at least, that is my thought.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 9:56AM
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Phobie Privett

I have had both and while I really like the look of both, I have to say that stained trim and woodwork has required much less maintainence (sp?) and doesn't show the dings of the vacuum cleaner and whatever else may hit it.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:05AM
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This is such a personal preference that pros/cons of each is actually irrelevant to the decision. You have to go with what your gut tells you. What feels better to you, what house design/style are you trying to achieve is much more important than whether or not you'll have to repaint something before you'd have to touch up the stain...IMO.

Pictures such as above may help you get to the final decision though. I'd suggest touring homes and looking at design books for assistance. Also, stained cabinets and stained trim are two completely different things. I wouldn't consider having stained cabinetry and painted trim to be a "combination" of the two. Jaymielo's pics above are more reflective of a true mixture of stained/painted wood.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:20AM
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Originally, I wanted dark wood floors and all painted trim because I loved the crispness of the contrast. Then I looked at another house that my contractor built (for something completely different) and fell in love with his use of cherry trim, doors and floors. We're building a Craftsman style farmhouse, so the stained trim makes better sense, but either would have been beautiful. The stained trim and the solid wood doors raised our costs a bit, but once I saw them, I was hooked. The best way to decide is to go tour some homes for sale during open houses or model homes and see what catches your eye.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 1:37PM
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I think a lot depends on the color of your walls: I like a good deal of contrast between wall and trim.

And wall color in turn is somewhat dependent on the ambient light level of the room: if there isn't a lot of light, I like a pale wall. Lots of light, a darker wall helps keep it from being blinding.

If you have a medium tone wall color and want a dark stained wood, you'd better have a LOT of light...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 3:21PM
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Thanks all~~
Wish I lived closer to a larger city.....all are about 2+ hours away from this small town in mid-Kansas...but the last time I talked to a builder in Topeka (and these homes were not all that spectacular), he said that he built about half stained and white cream...not any stark white anymore.

I have seen some pics on the forum somewhere that shows a dark stained front door and white trim, but I don't know if the other doors are stained with white trim or not. Anyone have these? Thanks

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 7:42PM
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Me again... ;-) Yes. Our front door is stained and trimmed in white. (Stark white actually)

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 8:52PM
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My house doesn't have tons of natural light. there are front windows....but also a front porch. There is a huge sunroom on the back. I do have two skylights, but they are on a northern exposure, so not a lot of direct sunlight. And I wanted rich colors on the walls....light chocolate and red for some areas. I chose white trim to help contrast the darker paint colors. I love how clean and crisp white trim looks.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 8:47AM
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Carolyn above said it, and I'll extrapolate -- painted doors (a light color) have the big downside of showing dirt/fingerprints. If you have kids and light colored painted doors, prepare for fingerprints on all the heavily used doors like the powder, doors to the outside, pantry, etc. I love the look of stained doors with white trim.
good luck.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 9:04AM
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Ummm. Be sure your paint or stain is compatible with a marine polyurethane for the top finish. Finger- and paw-prints will wipe off easily.

As far as cleaning dark/light colors, remember that opposites show up. That is, grimy fingerprints will be most noticeable on light shades and dust/pollen will be most noticeable on dark shades. Doesn't matter whether they are paint or stain, the tone will affect which sort of dirt you notice. So choose the colors you like best, but be sure to give them an easy-clean finish.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 9:19AM
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phoggie, Sorry, I just reread your post. You weren't looking for pictures of the front door, but interior doors. Again, our interior doors are stained with pure white trim. I choose to do this because I like the way the color on the wall contrasts the trim. All these decisions are a matter of personal preference, but I know it helped me to see pictures of what others had done while I was making decisions. Good luck! Jaymie

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 11:05AM
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I like a bright house. We have lots of windows and french doors and lighter shades of paint. Only our entry door is stained, and it is in a surround-sidelights that is painted. All our doors, frames, window casings, baseboards, etc. are BM 'white linen'.

We are empty nesters in a traditional style house (not craftsman, etc.). The only 'little destroyer' visiting frequently is one grandson, age 3.5. I think our less expensive but solid manufactured wood doors and our trim can be repainted many times for what we would have spent on wood worthy of staining.

An FYI about your cherry kitchen cabinets: I was told they tend to darken with age.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2008 at 2:59PM
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In the process of building a new home. We wiil have white (off white) trim and windows will have white grills. I am trying to decide what to do with the fireplace that will be between two large windows (about 7 ft tall). I initially thought painted to match the wood trim, but fell in love with a mahogany stained fireplace. This will be an open floor plan with vaulted ceilings and the great room will be open to the kitchen, dining area. Kitchen cabinets are cherry with a darker cinnamon stain and a glaze. Would a stained fireplace look OK or should I stick with painted. I would appreciate any input.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2014 at 7:35PM
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We are doing painted. I wanted a white kitchen all along and when my builder told me that painted cabinets were less expensive than stained, it sealed the deal.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2014 at 8:50PM
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