Does anyone regret their white cabinets?

SherriodeFebruary 20, 2012

I've been planning on white painted cabinets, but my friend just commented that she hated her older white cabinets. She said they never look clean. She lives across the country, so I can't see for myself. Does anyone regret their choice of white painted cabinets because they show dirt too easily? It's something I never thought about as an issue. We are early in the planning stage, so nothing is set in stone.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This subject gets discussed so much around here. There are two camps of people. One says white cabs always show the dirt so they're more work to keep clean. The other camp says white cabs are easier to keep clean *because* you can see the dirt. I fall into the latter group. I hesitate to think how dirty my old dark, ugly cabs were because I rarely cleaned them. Every speck shows on my new white ones so they get cleaned up immediately. One or two seconds for a sponge swipe and I'm done. Love knowing they are clean. You might do a forum search to look at recent threads on cleaning/dirt.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 12:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have white cabinets, and I find that breezy hit the nail on the head with the opinions. I personally find my cabinets much cleaner as time goes on because I can see the dirt and get rid of it immediately.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 12:38AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love my white cabs. In fact, sometimes I am shocked they are not perfectly clean when I take a closer look. They do get cleaned quicker than a stained wood cab because you can see obvious smudges, but I just cleaned all mine the other day and until I did all at once, did not realize they were not absolutely spot free. I think because there is hardware, it is a little forgiving.
I love how bright my kitchen looks and how crisp they are.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 1:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love my white cabs! I used semi-gloss paint, which I know is shinier than many here like, but it makes wiping them clean a breeze. Maybe your friend had dull paint, or cabinets with lots of detail and molding, which would trap dust in corners more easily.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 3:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another one who loves my white cabinets. As noted, bits of dirt are easily seen and just as easily wiped clean. The lovely crisp clean bright look of a white the ad says, priceless.

If you want white cabinets, get white cabinets. One important lesson I learned during my kitchen remodel is that the person you need to please is the one in the mirror. Not the neighbor, sister, mom, MIL, coworker, or forum buddy but yourself! Get opinions and experiences from everyone, weigh their words and then make the decision that feels right for YOU.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 8:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I hated my last white cabinets...but I still went with white cabinets for our current renovation. They are on order now. Our last ones, we painted ourselves to cover the dark brown laminate until we were ready to renovate. They were hard to clean and eventually paint started wearing off around the handles due to always wiping there.The paint finish from the factory will be easier to clean, I'm told anyway. I just really love the look of a white kitchen. At first I was trying to embrace the maple wood look that dh wanted, but in the end I had to tell him I REALLY want a white kitchen. So that's what I'm getting!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 8:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just to present the other side....fourteen years ago we (DH, 1 toddler and a newborn) moved into a 4 year old house with a kitchen with custom-made white cabinets. The house had already had 2 owners with dogs and kids...the cabinets were not dirty, but the paint was wearing off in all the places one tends to touch or lean while working....the drawers around the drawer pulls, the edges of the upper doors, the edges of the raised panels on the drawers and doors, even the kickplate. After a few years we couldn't stand it, and hired a local furniture restorer known for his meticulous work. It took several weeks, as he removed each door and drawer, brought them into the driveway and hand sanded and refinished each piece, then did the same with the frames. We had beautiful new eleven years and 2 kids later, you'd never know we had gone through all that work and expense. The same areas are showing wear....we've tried to retouch an inconspicuous area or two, but it just doesn't work.

I love the look of the white cabinets - so clean and fresh and bright...but realistically speaking, I would never do it if I had the choice...I'd go for natural wood. Just my opinion!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I too love my white cabinets. A word of caution though. You do sometimes see, f you look very closely, seams at times due to weather. These do not bother me but if you are the type that is always examining closely, this might bother you.
They are easy to clean, even if you didn't see the stain when it happened.
If your eyes are used to a white kitchen, it is difficult to want to see a wood kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:23AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have white, am a lazy housekeeper, and agree with Breezy and the rest. Yes, they do show dirt more, but since they're given a brisk specific wipe now and then there's always a lot less there to notice. When looking clean is the issue, going light so they actually are cleaner is just easier overall.

As for "natural" wood, it gets worn and stained with wear too. No finish will continue to look good indefinitely without at least some maintenance. Over the decades I've seen a bunch people replace nice wood-finish cabinets because they were "old" when what they really needed was a good cleaning (years of accumulated missed dirt) and a new finish coat (with maybe a little sanding around handles where the dirt has sunk into the wood).

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My kitchen isn't quite finished. I still need a backsplash and a few tweaks, so I am reserving my final judgment until I get out of reno mode and just live with my kitchen. Also, it's just me at home so I don't have to cope with lots of little or big hands messing up the white.

Due to budget, I went with keeping my cabinet boxes and added new doors/drawer fronts. Painting the old golden oak was my only option. I think it turned out well. That being said, I think if I got to redo everything, next time I would go with a mid to light wood. The true warmth of wood is greatly missed. I'm grateful I have warm red oak on the floor, or it would be too austere...and this from someone who loves a neutral palette. I miss the warmth. Still, this will work. I think I'm just missing a backsplash.

As others have addressed, keeping white clean is a different matter altogether. I'm in the camp of, you can see it on white, you clean it, no problem. When I had white tile counters, not a crumb escaped detection. I'm a compulsive counter-wiper, so it wasn't a problem. You could eat off my white counters. I once had white Pergo floors (ack!). They showed everything, so I had to keep them clean. My dear red oak floors? They show nothing. I suppose that's good for my inherent laziness, but I know they aren't very clean. My old oak cabs didn't show anything, until suddenly 20 years of hands and grease and grime had reached critical mass.

So, I don't mind white's talent for showing marks, which I will gladly clean, but I'm not sure if I would do it again. And the wear/chip thing will play out as it will. Too soon to tell.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:44AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We've had our finished painted white kitchen for about four years now: we have multiple pets and my children are now 7 and 5. I feel as if I spend all day, every day in the kitchen -- it sees a lot of abuse. Except for the tippy-top of the dishwasher where the steam has worn away some of the paint (you can only see this when the dishwasher is open, not closed), it's held up really well. Our painted black island is a totally different matter (chip chip chip). I also agree with and have lived what everyone else has written: they're a breeze to clean and they actually *are* clean. I happen to be a Windex & microber nut myself. I'd do it again in a NY minute. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:08AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think I"m agreeing with everyone, but here's another take on the same thing:

I've had probably 100+ unrelated, individual cabinets go through my home in the past year. If I find a better made cab, I donate the previous one. I'm starting to settle down now with what I want, but that's to show you how many cabs I've had from so many different homes.

I have found the few white ones I've picked up to be worn as described, frequently. But then, they were built in 1991, according to their tags.
I'm painting with a low-gloss enamel, so I don't care. However, on the fronts they're always cleaner. The sides on all the cabs are frequently a different, disgusting story.

Now, the wood cabs I pick up? Thank GOD I'm eventually replacing the doors. I have to use heavy duty, full-strength TSP, a putty knife and my fingernails to SCRAPE the grease off the doors. Out of the detail, off the backs. As linelle mentioned, "critical mass".

The wood cabs are totally and always disgusting in some way.
But, I always figure those who live with it don't see it. Until.... And the wood hides it unless the light hits it in a particular way.

With these cabs coming from so many different sources, I can't blame the housekeeper -- totally.

I paint. Mine are a gorgeous (I think) light gray green. I can see dust from my sanding, fingerprints when I leave them, and spatters if my spaghetti gets too enthusiastic. I think they're cleaner than any wood cabinets I'd (n)ever have.


    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What do you guys use to clean the odd spaghetti splash or grimy handprint? I'm paranoid about my new paint job, so all I've used thus far is water and microfiber cloth. rmkitchen uses Windex. Is that okay, because I'm told to keep it away from the counters because of the ammonia.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 10:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have lived in an old farm house with white cabinets for the last 9 or so years. I just put them in my new place with a different color island because I love the white but wanted to change things up a bit. I have kids, a dog and love to cook. Never had a problem keeping them clean.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 11:28AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For spaghetti sauce, a quick swipe with a sponge (sitting in a suction-cup holder on the side of the sink) and water. A grimy handprint might need a back-and-forth, if still recalcitrant some soapy water when available. The sponge goes in the dishwasher with almost every load.

Yet another benefit of white/light cabinets: Over time a lot fewer chemicals sprayed around, which I notice I've lost my tolerance for the fumes of. They never used to bother me.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 11:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We moved into our house in 1999 and have had the exisisting white cabinets for all this time. We are now on the verge of kitchen remodel because of many other issues. However, I love the feel and comfort of our white cabinets so much that I am planning on doing white cabinets all over again. They are bright and cheery.

Now, mind you, I am not a clean freak and yet the white cabinets are the least of my problems. Once in a while I get a coffee splash or something and wipe it up. When it came time to decide how we will do the new kitchen there was never a question in my mind what color the kitchen cabinets would be. The countertop is a whole another ball of wax, however. UGH!!

It does seem to be a trend right now and yet after living with them for 13 years already I can honestly say I love the feel and comfort. Our first floor is from 1920 and it just seems to fit the cottage/bungalow style of our house.

Good luck in your many many many decisions to come.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 11:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am firmly in the white kitchen camp. We moved into our house 22 years ago with stained walnuts cabinets and they were filthy. I scrubbed them but they always seemed to be sticky. (That's just my experience and I'm not lumping all wood cabinets in there). I painted them white about 15 years ago and loved them. Never had an issue with dirt - just a simply wipe or chipping (and that was with 2 active boys). When we did our reno we went with white again. They are so bright and cheery and very easy to keep clean.

I just put a bit of dish soap in a bowl of hot water and wipe them down with a cloth. I don;t use any "cleaning solutions".

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 11:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Love white cabinets. Even though I complain about mine, I will do them again. Even the nicks don't scare me away, and I definitely have a few. Disclaimer- this is not my kitchen- but isn't it pretty.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 12:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

TSP gets that sticky feeling gone, because it removes the grease. That sticky is disgusting.
A nice, oil based primer and you're cool.
I also use original Windex when I have it. Original doesn't have the strong ammonia concentration in it.
I never feel water removes things well. Obviously it doesn't work on grease.

Try some of those organic things?

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 12:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mama goose_gw zn6OH

We've had off-white cabinets since 1994--recently repainted a couple of shades lighter, but I think the old oil paint had yellowed. However, it was very durable, standing up to our three kids and their friends, and frequent big family dinners. I painted some of the cabinets green, but I always think of it as a white kitchen.

Clean-up is easy--just a wipe with the dish rag after the dishes are done. The only area where I used a spray-type cleaner, a couple of times a year, was on the cabinets surrounding the (former) recirculating vent hood, for the gunky, greasy build-up.

My mother's kitchen has been white for many years, but she recently repainted the cabinets a French-vanilla shade--I preferred the white. In-laws kitchen cabinets have been white since 1974 (my mother, a pro, painted them with oil-based enamel), and my sister's vintage kitchen cabinets are also white.

I've read that real-life white kitchens are uncommon, but I'm usually in kitchens with white cabinets, more often than in kitchens with natural wood.

No regrets for me!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 1:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another vote for white cabs.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 3:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had wood cabinets in my former house, and I got Howard's wood cleaner and used it two times a year. Between the over-all cleaning, I would wipe down splatters with a mild detergent and a rag that was damp (not sopping wet). After 8 years the cabinets still looked brand new.

In our current home, we have wood cabinets that we are living with until we remodel next year and then we will have white cabinets. Our current cherry finish cabinets are not in great shape, having dings, scratches and mars from previous owners, they are subtle and I can find them, but they get wiped down every few weeks as needed (DH messy cook).

When I worked in the kitchen industry in a custom cabinet shop, we would paint and then cover the paint with conversion varnish for durability. We plan on adding a top coat to our white paint so that the varnish (or poly) would get scratched and worn before the paint does.

I love white cabinets and would not have it any other way.

I am like those who say 'hides the dirt'! I do not want to hide any dirt, I want to clean it and then get rid of it. I do not scrub with the abrasive side of a sponge, I use a rag and apply slight pressure over and over until I have loosened it and cleaned. When the cabinets near the stove get the greasy, then I use a detergent like Dawn dish-washing liquid to dissolve any grease. I also repair any minor scratches that happen as soon as I can get to them. With wood cabinets, that was a wax crayon. With white cabinets, I use the paint, or white wax crayon made for such uses. The goal is to keep the water, moisture, oil away from the wood.

Wooden doors will have their parts move, and the wax or polish (as in Howard's) keep the cracks filled so that moisture does not get in to cause more damage. Polyurethane also cracks, so polish or wax keeps those tiny cracks filled. This preserves the wooden door.

Here is a link that might be useful: Howards cleaner and polish

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 3:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Painted my current kitchen white with oil based enamel paint.

Now we are moving to new house with a new kitchen. Choosing a white-ish cabinet for new kitchen.

This time, it's not paint but catalyzed lacquer. It's supposed to hold up better than paint. Not supposed to chip. Time will tell, I'm sure. But the finish is supposed to be excellent.

I've never had any trouble cleaning my current cabinets.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 4:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Bee, What white-ish shade of paint are you choosing for your new beautiful cabinets? Which style cabinet door and frame did you end up choosing. You have such great taste that I know whatever you choose will look beautiful! I am waiting after my busy season to revisit my kitchen but I sure do LOVE white/off-white kitchen cabinets especially those shared on this forum.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 5:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love my white cabinets.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 5:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

lynn, no decisions yet. Depends on the shade of gray for the island.....stay tuned.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In 1987, I painted my site built original 1960, birch or beech, quality cabinets, a very bright, super white, with oil based paint. They were sanded and primed and painted. They stayed a beautiful crispy white until they were demo'ed in 2011. They cleaned beautifully, with a soapy sponge. I just never had to do a total cleanathon, but we didn't cook that much and never had major grease, minor yes. Not a chip, none. Yeah, I had crazy kids, too, and always worked full time, away from home!

We remodeled with stained maple. I was tired of white.

My dil and ds have a similar house around the corner and they remodeled and had the cabs taken down, stripped and stained and they are gorgeous. They are the same, 1960's quality, site built cabinets.

Back to the issue, a good paint job, with proper sanding and stripping and priming, should last a very long time, like mine did, from 1987 to 2011. At least.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We reno'd our kitchen one year ago this month. I took 2 years to convince hubby to go from honey oak (yuck) to white, he just hated the idea.

Just today and I said (yet again) to my hubby how much I love love love our white cabinets. And yet again, he agreed, he loved the new kitchen as much as I do. Everyone who comes to the house loves them as well.

We reno'd for resale (which will happen likely next summer) and we are already planning white cabinets.

Hi Boxer!!

P.S. haven't been around in a long time but starting to plan the new house so here I am again!!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm a serial white-cabinet kitchen renovator. First house, 1985, white cabinets went in. Second house, 1988, white cabs again. Third house, 1998...white. Current house came with refaced white cabs, and I just replaced them this year with new white cabinets.

I love the look of a wood floor in the kitchen, and the contrast between the wood floor and the white cabinets never gets old for me.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 9:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks guys! I'm feeling enthusiastic about the white cabinets again. I foresee quite a roller coaster in my future as I have yet to really begin the whole Reno process.

Red_lover-that is a pretty kitchen!

InfoDiva-wood floors and white cabinets is just what I'm thinking, too.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 12:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I find that our natural wood island looks dirtier far quicker than our white cabinets because dust shows on the wood more.

I think it depends on the color wood you go for. A lighter maple or oak would probably show less than either dark wood or white, but I don't like the look as much.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 5:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have a white kitchen yet and I love both white kitchen cabinets as well as cherry stained maple or cherry cabinets. I am still leaning toward a white kitchen to brighten up my space. My experience with white painted wood is in my bedroom so I thought I would add my two cents. I had oak furniture in my Master Bedroom that was so old and was more for a child so I did not like it. I finally caved in and bought a new bedroom set when the oak platform bed fell apart. I went with Durham Sand White Furniture which is a rubbed out off-white satin or semi-gloss paint over maple furniture. I love the brightness of my bedroom and they always look clean despite over 4.5 years passing. BUT I accidentally dumped my purse contents on the dresser as I was running late to my continuing education class and wanted to keep my purse mostly empty. I was not feeling well and when I came home I had gotten yellow marker on the top of my dresser and it never came out although it did lighten. But I still am glad I bought my bedroom set.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 6:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All cabs get dirty and need to be cleaned regularly. With my previous white cabs it was easier to see it, so I knew I was getting it all - similar to posts above. On my stained and green painted cabs, I have to clean just as often but I have to look more closely, and not assume they are clean.

Just my observation after being in my new space for a couple months now.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 7:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love our white cabinets and second everything breezy and the others that agreed with her said.

I about died yesterday when I dropped my food scale and it hit the side of my corner cabinet and left a 2" black mark. I knew the scuff wouldn't come out. Sure enough, it wiped off just fine!

We have dark espresso cabinets in our master. They look great against the marble and all the other light details but they show more dust and dirt than my white cabinets do! I find I have to wipe them more. That's been quite a surprise.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 8:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm surprised to see this old thread revived! Thanks to the reassurances here, I am confidently going with white. Tomorrow morning Dutch Wood is coming out to measure for the new cabs (also thanks to GW).

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 9:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another question in white cabinets....

We did a renovation and did white. We now have peeling and cracking on the top of the door under the kitchen sink. Obviously water gets on them but never a ton or for long periods of time (a few small drips for 10-15 minutes max). They are lacquered. Has anyone else had this issue? We are very frustrated!!! Other than that we love them!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 8:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Happy to see this thread since I want white cabs this time around.
Did in 2000, but hubby wanted wood, what is it about men and wood?? I was afraid to pull the trigger on white because of the same concerns as the OP and they are not popular here so don't know anyone who has one or designers with many in their portfolio. Wish I knew about GardenWeb 12 years ago. I would have had my white cabs then instead of maple with a light glaze.
Going to save this and see if I can search for all your white kitchens for inspiration!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 9:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Love my white cabs! I'm in the camp with the happy-to-see-the-dirt-and-wipe-it-right-away. For all those longtime white cabbers...can you use vinegar and water with a sponge on a factory finish? Hope so because that's what I've been doing...

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just reread my reply from seven months ago. My cabs are still pristine and easy to clean. I've also gotten used to having all the white around me. I'm not saying white is the only way to go, but I'm happy that's what I chose.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2012 at 11:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mine are more cream than white (the white of old house kitchens). I love the color. It just seems right to me.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2012 at 1:05AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Thoughts on tile with this granite? Aquario
I saw that one or two people on here have the granite...
Resurrecting kitchen project Part II
My husband’s kitchen deadline is still May, but it...
Pendant lights over island
Can anyone assist w/ the dimensions for lights over...
Question for those who have Painted Conestoga Cabinets?
Curious if you went with mdf or paint grade center...
Countertops for butlers pantry
We have a wall in pantry that will need countertops...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™