Painted Cabinets vs. Stained?

southernmumDecember 8, 2012

Yet again, I'm questioning my "gut" and now re-thinking my kitchen cabinets! (Can you tell it's time for me to really decide and commit to my builder??) I've saved ALL photos of white painted kitchen cabinets with a painted (blue or grey) painted island. Now, however, after meeting with my cabinet person and kitchen designer, I'm more confused than ever! I've always had stained cabinets in my other houses (cherry) and in my new house I really want a light and airy kitchen. Now that I think about the exterior of our new home (stone, shake, earth-tone colors) I'm thinking a super white kitchen doesn't really go with that look/style... Then when I research online, I'm realizing how the stained cabinets are easier to maintain (I have 3 boys!!!) and stained is cheaper, etc. Once again second-guessing myself. So what are your thoughts and what are you doing in your kitchen? My current idea is doing maybe glazed white perimeter cabinets and now a cherry island -- kind of a compromise. However, not sure if glazed is going to look dated one day. Ah, decisions, decisions...!

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motherof3sons

Southernmum - I have both stain and paint. Uppers painted with cherry accents; lowers stained cherry. I fell in love with two tone kitchens years ago.

Our home exterior has a strong craftsman look. This is the only styleof home DH or I have ever lived in throughout our childhoods and married life. So, we knew it was the look for us when we decided to build. The interior has many craftsman element, but not all resemble the warm colors of the exterior.

Do what you love!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 9:00AM
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virgilcarter

Yes, absolutely, do what you want to do! It's your house. There are all sorts of witches tales about painted vs. stained cabinets. And that's what they tend to be--just tales!

Painted cabinets started in Colonial houses and have continued ever since. They look fine in any style house, so long as they are coordinated with the trim and other finishes used in the rest of the house. One would not want, for example, painted kitchen cabinets and stained door, window and base trim throughout the rest of the house or vice versa.

Painted cabinets can be touched up a lot easier than stained and varnished cabinets, whose finish may or may not be lasting beyond 5-10 years anyway, depending on the finish process used. Just be sure you get some extra paint and file away the paint manufacturer and color number for future use, if needed.

Painted cabinets are fine. Good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 9:11AM
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DLM2000

motherof3sons - can you post pictures of your kitchen? That sounds like a beautiful compromise to put the more fragile paint only on top. It's an issue I wrestle with, too.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 9:11AM
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southernmum

Thanks so much for the input! Yes, I need to do what I love! It's been one heck of a pain selling, packing up and moving to a rental with 3 kids. (Majorly injured my back during our move -- STILL in physical therapy for it!) My point is -- I need to make this all worthwhile and design a kitchen that I will ADORE! :) It sounds silly, but I'm already saving photos in a Pinterest file on how I will decorate my new house for Christmas next year! Can't wait!!!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 10:54AM
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autumn.4

southernmum - here is a link to motherof3sons kitchen (I have it bookmarked). She hasn't posted a full reveal yet as far as I've seen but this link has some pics to her very warm and inviting 2-toned kitchen.

Here is a link that might be useful: Motherof3sons Kitchen

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 1:59PM
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motherof3sons

Thanks for the compliment and posting Autumn. Here is another link with more views. The full reveal will be after the backsplash is complete.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kitchen

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 2:11PM
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dyno

I have white painted uppers/lowers and a dark stained island. After a couple years the white lowers still look ok but are definitely showing signs of wear whereas the island hides it much better. To be expected but I suspect we'll go with the white uppers/stained lowers and island in the next house. We do like the airiness that the white uppers bring into the space.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 2:25PM
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arch123

Our last house had painted white cabinets - very nice and light, but I kept seeing smears etc and would clean all the time. I think your idea about staining or perhaps not white paint would resolve this. We have a craftsman house now and plan to redo the kitchen eventually and will probably use a maple natural stain with shaker style cabinets - keep it light and warm but not white.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 5:30PM
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downsy

Mother of 3 - I love, love your kitchen and the mix of color from upper to lower cabs. Btw my vote is for tile # 3 at the lowest height!!!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 6:04PM
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phoggie

I think this cabinet color was the hardest decision I had to make....one day it would be dark rich stained cherry and the next white. I do not have little fingers anymore to show prints....although they are still there, you just do not clean them as often. But I am finishing the order tomorrow and I am picking pearl painted...I only have one north window, which will be under a porch, so I do not want it to be dark in there. I had white once, when I did have little ones, and loved them, but my last house had cherry, so do what you want...it is your house, you are paying for it, so follow your gut...and good luck!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 10:09PM
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motherof3sons

Thanks Downsy! The tile was ordered last week and I hope to have the full reveal in January.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:16AM
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autumn.4

Ohhhh, motherof3, can't wait for that reveal!!! From one of your kitchen 'stalkers'. :)

southernmum-I am in the same boat as you. We go back and forth all of the time but not really on durability, finger print issues. We just aren't sure what we want! Leaning white for perimeter and stained for island though. It should be a nice transition from tile in the kitchen to wood in the family room. Whatever you choose will be fine!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:58AM
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southernmum

Thanks for all the great advice! Motherof3, love your kitchen!!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 4:39PM
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pps7

We have white painted cabinets and I love them. It's true that stained wears better. it's not the dirt- that wipes off easily, it's the dings with the paint chipping off.

We did stained in the dining room built-ins.

Painted white kitchen:

If I had to do it all over again, I might do stained in the periphery of our kitchen and have the island/ dining room painted in a light blue gray. I'm not sure if the blue gray would wear better or maybe the dings would be less noticeable.

Love the color of this island:

But in all honesty I don't regret anything, I love my kitchen so you should do what you love!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 5:12PM
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virgilcarter

The photos above cleary show the differences between painted and stained cabinets. Painted cabinets make the room look brighter, lighter and larger; stained cabinets (particularly as they go towards darker stains) make the room look darker and smaller.

Both types of cabinets require periodic maintenance, but it's often a lot easier to use touch-up paint than to try to match a stained and varnised or lacquered finish, which is virtually fimpossible except by experts in their shop.

At the end of the day, of course, it's all personal taste (as well as what may be appropriate for the architectural style of one's house).

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:04PM
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virgilcarter

Here's an interesting article and illustration on Houzz on dealing with dark kitchens:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/5698430/list/3-Dark-Kitchens--6-Affordable-Updates

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:31AM
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patriceny

I think that like most things in life, at the end of the day you should probably go with whatever your heart tells you is right for you.

I've had both, and agree with pretty much everything everyone wrote here.

White definitely shows more dirt....but with a nice, quality finish that dirt wipes right off. They do chip more (or, at least show it more) - but again, with a little bit of touch-up paint they look nearly good as new.

Stained cabs seem to hold up better in my house - but again, that may be only because you can't see the wear nearly as much.

I have dark stained cabs now, and I absolutely LOVE them. I paired them with a white granite, and every morning I still smile when I walk in that kitchen. But that whole end of the house has lots windows with exposure on 3 sides of the house....so the cabs are dark but the rest of the space is so light that they provide a nice balance.

All in all, I think the best thing to do is weigh the pros and cons as they relate to your life and your house.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:56AM
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lzerarc

we are going with super dark stained cabinets and a white quartzite top. We are after a more modern and contemporary look for the kitchen in our new home design. The previous house design was more craftsman inspired, and in which case, we were debating 2 kitchen colors. Either the white painted perimeter with a dark blue or blackish island, or a medium brown stained full kitchen. There is just something nice and warm about wood stained cabinets. Our last house we had white painted and they seemed to look dirty alot even though they were cleaned often.
If you were going with the craftsman inspired kitchen, I think a medium stained kitchen might be the ticket for you. Save some money, be truer to the style, more durable finish IMO.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:11PM
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southernmum

So have you all kept the same cabinetry throughout your house (i.e - do the bathroom cabinets match your kitchen?) or did you change cabinetry by the room? I'm leaning towards painted cabinets in kitchen, but wanting to do stained vanities in the bathrooms. Again, with 3 boys, I need the cabinets to be durable and not chip.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:14PM
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motherof3sons

Stained in all the bathrooms; white in laundry

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 9:38PM
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Beth Parsons

I wanted white/cream painted cabinets soooo badly in my kitchen but hubby really dislikes the look. We tend to be very hard on a house and with 2 younger kids thought that stained cabinets would resist wear and tear better. We are going with a very dark, espresso stain for all cabinets including the laundry room with a Sage Brush granite. Our kitchen is a 2 story space and we're hoping the darker cabinets will help ground the space as well. They are scheduled to go in tomorrow (!) and I can't wait to see how it looks.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:25PM
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lzerarc

kitchen is really dar stained, main bath is really dark stained, laundry is white, master bath is natural bamboo, mud room is a turquoise like color.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:35PM
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pps7

We ended up doing thermafoil in the secondary bathrooms and laundry room. it's nicer than I thought it was going to be and extremely durable. Master bath is stained, kitchen is painted,office is stained.

I would mix it up.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 10:59PM
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