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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

“Very easy to work with, they did an outstanding job with our project of re-painting our painting our kitchen cabinets. Given the scope of the job and that our kitchen is roughly half of our upstairs living area they did a fantastic job of minimizing the mess. Workmanship was top notch, would definitely recommend.”

— Vince Scola

“Matt, We are very happy with how all of the painting worked out. We were extremely impressed with the quality of the work in the bathroom. I liked working with Victor, he and Marvin were extremely conscientious about doing a great job, not just the minimum. I know the front door took a lot longer than you'd expected. But they did it PERFECTLY. We never thought it could turn out like that! Thanks again for the great work. We'll be calling you again in the future!”

— Craig
Alameda, CA

“Many thanks to Rigoberto and Damon and the extraordinary team who transformed my castle in the skies.They are magicians. I appreciate their work very much.”

— Kathleen A
San Francisco

“I love the article in the paper on your company. Thank you for supporting our community by painting at the Claremont Middle School. Thanks!”

— Carla Banks

“In all the years I've worked with MB Jessee, I'm always so impressed by your crews. They are so respectful of everything--you never even know they're there! Except that the paint looks amazing when they're gone. We've had one showing of our home and already have an offer. I'm sure it is because the paint looks so beautiful.”

— Erin T.
Pleasant Hill

“High quality work from a pleasant and qualified staff. Thank you!”

— Paul Markovich

“Charles finished yesterday and did a fantastic job. We really enjoyed meeting Charles and having him in our home. He is a great guy in addition to his attention to detail in his work, the protection of our floors, walls and furnishings, and his overall interaction with us both. I would be pleased to recommend him to any of my clients.”

— Ken Morrison
Oakland

“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

“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

“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 entire MB Jessee team is courteous, efficient and professional. From scheduling and estimating to the crew managers and crew, they all did an excellent job on a small (but complicated) two room project in my house. I'm already thinking about getting them scheduled for the next project in the spring.”

— Cari Cheney

“M.B. Jessee painted the exterior of my Spanish house over 9 years ago, and they did such an incredible job that they are still getting referrals from me today. The paint is holding up perfectly -- there is absolutely no peeling chipping or any other deterioration. I still remember that my final walk-through list consisted of items written on one side of a 3x5 index card (and I'm REAL picky about my house!) However, when Matt and I did that walk-through over HALF the items were no longer an issue, as his team had noticed them first and they had already been resolved.”

— JoAnn Newcomb