Any regrets with white cabinetry?

karlsmomMay 9, 2013

My kitchen remodeling inspiration pictures all have off-white cabinets, that's what I'm leaning towards. But I am scared of staining, dirty fingerprints, etc. My parents had (still have!) the 1950's white metal cabinets, I remember a grayish halo around each pull. I am a messy cook, DH needs glasses, the kids - being kids - don't care. Within the past week, we had spillage of beets, red wine, chocolate cake batter, egg yolks and pink lemonaide.

Is cleaning white painted cabs a big issue? A few years down the road, any regrets? I know this kitchen renovation will probably be the only one in this house, DH is not gung ho about it. But regular wood stained cabs leave me cold, can't work up an interest. There's dark wood trim and paneling in this house, a lot of wood.

Our local cabinet maker assured me that his painted finish is awesome and we won't have any trouble. What has been your experience? How long will a painted finish look good? Will I regret this 5 - 10 years down the road?

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Well, I painted our old cabinets white---primed, sanded a lot, used high quality oil-based paint. They looked great and it lasted a long time, but I did get chipping at may not have the problem with a professional paint job. BUT, yes, it was hard to keep them clean, especially the nooks and crannies on the panel doors. Again, this may not be as much of an issue with a professional paint job...but white is white and will show more everything than a medium or darker tone. I love the look of white cabinets, but I was ready for a change when we redid the kitchen and went with natural maple to keep things light in our dark kitchen. In the end, get what you want....if you really like white cabinets and get wood, you won't be happy looking at them everyday. Just know going in they may require a little more upkeep.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:05AM
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I have white cabinets and, yes, the paneled doors and drawers are very hard to clean. I actually scrubbed off quite a bit of the paint over the years, and yes, paint chipped. However, I really like/d my white kitchen, even though wood is probably easier to touch up. On the other hand, my kitchen is over 20 years old, so it's ready for a major overhaul. However, I'm in decision limbo because I don' know whether I'd like to go for another white kitchen or wait until I really like a wood kitchen.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:13AM
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The thing about white is, if you spill something, you will see it. Whether or not you wipe it up right away is up to you. I find white cabs easy to keep clean. With stained wood, you don't see much and that can mean a false sense of clean until you realize you've got some major cleaning to do (accumulation of hand grease, we all have it).

My white cabs are going on 18 months old. It's just me, so no heavy abuse. There are a few tiny pin holes on the tops of lower doors from my cat's claws because he is a door-opener. They are insignificant. I worried about chips and huge scratches, but the paint seems pretty tough.

If I had it to do all over again, and I'm not planning on it, I would go for a mid to light wood. I don't regret getting white, and still love the look. I would have never known the true way I lean without living with white.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:24AM
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I have a mixture of off white and light green cabinets. They have been installed for 2 years. The green ones are so much easier to clean and look better after 2 years than the off-whites. While I love the look of the color combination, sometimes I wish I had gone for all green cabinets, just for this reason.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:54AM
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I really wanted a white/cream kitchen when we started plans for our kitchen remodel. At first I was just going to have my old cabinets painted white but after speaking with neighbors who had done this and then had major chipping problems I figured there was no way painted cabinets would hold up in my household (many young children). So then I was going to get factory finished white cabinets but we also got nervous about how they would hold up and my husband talked me into just getting stained cabinets :( But then one day I went to look at granite and in their showroom they had two sample kitchens, one white and one stained. The white one looked awful with scuff marks everywhere on the sides of the cabinets and the stained one looked brand new. After that I was really glad we made the decision to go with stained. In 30 years when I do another kitchen remodel and the kids are grown I'll get my white kitchen...oh wait grandkids...maybe never :)

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Our previous kitchen had dark cherry cabs that I loved, but they would be way too dark in our current kitchen. We are replacing white thermofoil cabs now. The cherry hid a lot more dirt. I also love the creamy white look. We are using a catalyzed lacquer finish (BM Mascarpone) and have had a few concerns, but decided to go with what I love. Our Tigerwood floors have scratches from the dogs (and kids), my dining room table also has a well loved look. I consider it a patina of well loved and well used items. I almost went with honed marble, but decided at the last minute to use a creamy veined granite so I don't freak out at the mess I know we will create.
My home certainly isn't as pristine as others, but I want to be surrounded by the things I love.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:34AM
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Debbi Branka

I have bright white cabinets, but they are thermofoil. New - nicer than the old orange-peely texture of thermofoil. We've had them coming up on 3 years now. I love how easy they clean - just use the dishrag to wipe off any spills. Like another poster said, you can actually SEE spills on the white, so you can clean it up. I like that. I have a navy blue painted island. I love it too and wouldn't trade it at all, but it's only a year old and just a week or so ago I had to go around with the touch up paint to several little places. Also, the greasy finger prints don't seem to wipe off as easily as with my thermofoil. Attached is a picture of my cabs (before island).

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:37AM
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We have had white for about 5 months and love them. We have a catalyzed laquer finish and everything wipes off of it very easily. Super easy to clean!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 11:47AM
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We had creamy white (Bone White from BM) on top and bottom cabinets for ten years before we remodeled. The top cabinets held up really well, but the bottom ones looked awful. We had two small children when they were first painted and then added two more after, so there were LOTS of opportunities for dings, scratches, spills and anything else (three boys and one girl).

When we remodeled back in Nov/Dec, we opted for stained on the bottom and creamy white on top. I think the stained cherry will look a lot better ten years from now than the painted white did.

Those who have older kids, grown kids or no kids can safely get all white kitchen, but if you have many small children - good luck.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:20PM
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I just remodeled my 1968 kitchen from drab cherry to new to me white thermofoil and they are wonderful to clean up a soapy sponge or rag and it's gone.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 12:46PM
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My mom had a white kitchen which I loved and then we bought a house with a white kitchen. It's about 20yrs old and they have held up pretty well. Now that we're redoing our kitchen, I chose white again.

I love the light airy feel. Yes, you do have to be careful with spills. With our old ones, I wasn't as worried b/c, well, they were old. So, I asked our painter for a sample of his paint finish that I could test stains on. We clean the cabinets really well several times a year and try to wipe spills right away.

I think it's a hard decision and in our home, wood stained doors would really stick out because everything else is white.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 1:50PM
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Karlsmom I wanted to add that we also have a wood paneled living room with wood beams and wood floors so I'm dealing with a lot of wood in the house too :) But it's mainly the living room that's a brown cave. Out kitchen has a lot of windows and I'm having the wood paneling in the eating area painted. So that helped me when choosing to do stained cabinets in the kitchen. Hope you find something you like. I totally know how you feel. Oh, if you do go with stained cabinets I suggest finding a finish that is similar to the wood in the rest of your house so you can have a nice flow.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 2:29PM
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karlsmom ~ I also have a lot of wood in my house and I decided to go with off-white cabinets. I can't speak to how the finish will hold up as we haven't moved in yet, but I love how they look (I didn't want wood everywhere). I'm just making sure to repeat to white color elsewhere in the house so that it looks more connected. Also, I didn't choose an all white kitchen, I have soapstone counters and my backsplash will be a ming green marble mosaic.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 4:05PM
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I will always have a white kitchen. I have Dove White Dura Supreme cabinets. This kitchen is just my DH and I with my adults kids visiting on weekends.
Maybe you do have to consider how dirty you get things. For me, I am amazed that in this kitchen, my backsplash never gets splashed.
With a good factory finish, you wipe with water and it spills comes right off. Even those that I didn't catch when it first happened.
All this said, my cabinets were installed in '09. On very close inspection there are some chips. But, I have a touch up kit and can touch up if i want to. Most often I don't.The overall effect of my kitchen is a pristine white kitchen that I still enjoy walking into every day.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 4:34PM
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We had maple colored cabinets in our old kitchen, and when we remodeled we opted to change to white cabinets. Quite simply, I love them.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 5:18PM
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I have had my white cabinets for 10 years and still love them. Yes, they require periodic wipedowns and I need to touch up occasional small chips (they were professionally painted using BM oil based Impervo) but the brightness they bring to my north facing kitchen makes it worth it. Magic Eraser is my friend!

Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 5:36PM
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I have had my white (professionally painted) cabinets for about 3 years and they are easier to keep clean than the old oak ones they replaced. As others have said it is very easy to see any spill right away so the stains rarely set for long (I do have a DH, teenage son and large sloppy dog who don't always clean up after themselves). I have had a few dings and chips that wouldn't show up on the oak as much, but might be worse on a dark stained wood, and honestly I am pretty sure I am the only one that notices those either. I think if you love them you won't mind the very minimal extra maintenance. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 6:33PM
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Am I the only one who actually finds wood cabinets just as hard to keep clean?
Our island requires far more dusting and wiping down than our white perimeter cabinets.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 8:55PM
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