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Should You Paint Or Stain Your Kitchen Cabinets?

You’re ready to update your kitchen, refreshing the cabinets you currently have. This leaves just one important question: paint or stain?

Cabinet painting and finishing are two of our most popular services - no doubt about it. That’s probably due in large part to the fact that kitchens have taken on a whole new level of importance in our homes, acting as a central hub where we do life. Consequently, improvements to your kitchen space offer some of the best return on investment you’ll see from any home improvement project. Hands-down.

If you have good quality cabinets that meet your needs, but are ready for a fresh look, cabinet painting and finishing is the perfect way to create all the style of a remodel, just without the messy demo and long construction process.

There’s lots to love about that, right?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of paint and stain, just to help you make the best choice for your home.

Cabinet Painting Pros and Cons

 Should You Paint Or Stain Your Kitchen Cabinets?

Pro: Clean, Bright Style

White is definitely a popular option. And it’s honestly not just a trendy pick! Similar to say, subway tiles, it may be in high demand right now, but its roots go deep. White will always be in style as a timeless, neutral choice.

Pro: Have Fun with Cabinet Colors

You can pick unique, attractive stains, but will they ever have the impact that a bold island accent color offers? Probably not. Paint creates endless possibilities, especially when you use it in attractive combinations that bring your kitchen to life.

Pro: Paint Covers Blemishes

Stain is not very forgiving, but with the right products and prep the right paint can cover a multitude of dings and gouges. Even a natural feature, like large knots in the wood, can be a little unsightly depending on the character and quality of the material. Paint is the great equalizer.

Con: Can Be Harder To Touch Up

If you use the right products for the job, paint is very durable. But life still happens, especially if you have kids in the house. Paint is a little less forgiving, and requires the occasional touch-up to look its best.

Con: Hides Natural Features

For some folks, natural wood grain and all those unique swirls and patterns is where it’s at. If you have quality cabinets that really shine, it can be a shame to cover those features (for some homeowners, anyway).

Cabinet Staining Pros and Cons

 Should You Paint Or Stain Your Kitchen Cabinets?

Pro: Easier To Touch Up

Got a blemish? Finding the exact stain match isn’t hard, or if it’s a finish that pre-dates you, find something similar and you’ll likely be able to blend it without much trouble.

Pro: Natural Warmth and Charm

If you love wood grain, let it shine! Stain exudes a timeless warmth, and showcases more craftsmanship than paint.

Pro: You Can Retone

If you like wood finishes, but just not YOUR wood finish, talk to your painting company about retoning. It’s an ideal way to update your style without going the painted route.

Con: Showcase Blemishes

Yikes… Stain showcases all the natural charm, but it also highlights the imperfections. To look its very best, stained surfaces need to be in excellent condition.

Con: Some Limitations

Lower-grade materials, like engineered MDF (fiberboard) can’t be stained. There are painting limitations too for these substrates, raising larger questions about whether a pull-and-replace cabinet upgrade would be a better option.

Con: Some Stains Look Dated in Older Kitchens

In older kitchens especially, the wrong stain choice can create a dark, dated aesthetic. Your hardware and door/drawer face style might only accentuate this look. That’s why so many homeowners opt for a radical change with paint. It’s crucial to really think through your space, style, and natural light before committing to a particular color.

Our Best Advice? Talk with an Experienced Cabinet Painting Company

The right professional will offer both services, and provide an unbiased perspective based on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. They can also offer samples so that you can see and feel what the surfaces will be like in your home. That makes a huge difference!

If you have any additional questions about your Bay Area cabinet painting or finishing project, please reach out. We’re here to help!

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Customer Reviews

“MB Jessee just finished our exterior and we couldn't be happier with our experience. The foreman (Pedro) and lead painter (Ricardo) were incredible to work with: they communicated scheduling clearly, Ricardo was a joy to be around every day, the showed up early every day, were incredibly tidy and did great paint work. The final walk through experience was incredible. Pedro pointed out items I missed demonstrating a clear desire to complete another quality project. I highly recommend them. As others have noted they definitely aren't the cheapest but you quickly realize that you're getting what you pay for. The 3 year guarantee is also a nice touch since there are likely touch up items that will show up after the job is done.”

— Joshua Jansen

“I loved working with M.B. Jessee from start to finish on a relatively small paint job that grew a bit. I felt in very good hands from the moment Matt Jessee came out to give me the estimate and talk about my job. He was very easy to talk to and he handled my changes very well. Then the actual work done by Rigoberto and Mario was impeccable. They were neat and meticulous and the paint job looks beautiful. I could not have asked for more and when I did, they accommodated me 100%. I will not hesitate to call M.B. Jessee again and to refer them to friends.”

— Nancy Kurkjian

“Dear Matt,You must be so proud of your men! They were fantastic to have around. Polite, courteous and hardworking. I am so pleased with the outcome of our home--in fact, I couldn't be any more pleased than I am!”

— Mrs. S
San Leandro

“I highly recommend MB Jesse Painting to anyone looking for a professional team that does an impressive job. They are on time, efficient and clean up well each and every day they are on site. They pay attention to detail and listen to the needs of their clients. In addition, they give back to the community. A Five Star team all the way around.”

— Erin Troy

“The completed 'Client Satisfaction Survey' we sent in only modestly reflects our total satisfaction with the work. As a retired small business owner, I compliment you on setting 'best practices' that are consistently followed. Everything described in your marketing materials was a reality! The crew is a super bowl team and our neighbors commented on how quiet they were. We are very happy to be a client of MB Jessee.”

— Richard
Orinda

“MB Jessee painters are stellar! As a designer I've worked with numerous companies over the years, and MB Jessee is a top-notch firm. From the first phone call to the final clean up, every person is courteous, professional, and hard working. The owner, Matt, is a charitable leader who has instilled his team with integrity and honesty providing the customer with a first class experience at a fair price with a paint job that is guaranteed to last. I highly recommend MB Jessee. Thank you Matt and your STAR crew-Daniel, Rigoberto, Vicente, Edy, Pedro, and Mario, for a job well executed! Cynthia Brian, ASID, Starstyle® Productions, llc”

— Cynthia Brian
Morgan, CA

“My entire experience with MB Jesse was very professional. The crew were very friendly and super accommodating of my ridiculous schedule and geriatric pets in the house. The finished product, which was pretty much my entire house, far exceeds my expectations. Would definitely work with them again!”

— Heather Jordan

“The kitchen looks NEW! You guys are amazing.”

“Richard and crew have been great, for sure. As much as I look forward to having the job done and my house back in order, I really enjoyed having them around. You should feel really good about how they represent your company.”

— Jessica Dodson

“We just wanted to let you know how pleased we are with the work of MB Jessee Painting and your employees. Everything turned out beautiful. Our foreman was great! He was punctual, professional, neat and very accommodating ... and went the extra mile. We will definitely recommend you to our friends and family.”

— Michelle & Rivers Gee

“I just wanted to thank you all for doing such a phenomenal job on our recent house painting. We are very happy with the outcome and can't say enough good things about the crew. Everyone working on the project was outstanding and made it a great experience. Thanks to everyone.”

— Daylan
Piedmont

“Today I received a beautiful bouquet from your company. It was totally unexpected and very much appreciated--a lovely surprise. Also today, your crew finished my job. I am so pleased with all their fine work. Richard is absolutely amazing and a total delight to work with. He was also extremely helpful during the paint color process. The interior work in my home far exceeded my expectations. A big thank you to you and the crew for an outstanding job. Thank you, thank you for a terrific job!”

— Barbara
Piedmont