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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

“Just had MB Jessee paint the interior of our house and they did a wonderful job. They tackled some crazy wallpaper as well as painted some very high ceilings and walls. The whole process was quick and they did a great job! We are very pleased. I was also very impressed by the crew. They were very personable, kind and actually took pride in the work they were doing. In one of our conversations with the lead Ricardo, he actually told me he was very proud of how the rooms had turned out. I agree sir! It turned out great and it's not often you hear someone thinking of your home like they would theirs, and putting that level of work and quality into it. That made a huge difference in how I viewed this company. Ricardo, you were fantastic and thank you for the great job, we will be using you again.”

— Jeff M.
Danville, 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

“Our paint crew did a great job and the foreman, Gersson was exceptionally great to work with. He was always available to answer questions, good at problem-solving, very patient, kind, and highly professional with great customer service. We definitely recommend this company, and Gersson and his crew.”

— Andrea Y.
Berkeley, CA

“The finish on my kitchen cabinets had failed, becoming tacky and grimy around the handles. M B Jessee gave me a reasonable quote, far below some others, and did an outstanding job, striping the original varnish and refinishing with a new lacquer finish. The cabinets look like new. Work was done 1 day faster than estimated. The crew was extremely hard-working, considerate, and neat. Highly recommend M B Jessee.”

— Thama B.
San Francisco, CA

“Thank you for the support you have given the Women's Cancer Resource Center over the past year!”

— Margo - Director Women's Cancer Resource Center

“I just wanted to send you an email to say that John did such a great job over here today. He is truly a hard worker. He has the perfect balance of friendliness, honesty, and professionalism. I trust him. He takes the time to do the job to the best of his ability and that is what sets him (and your company) apart from the competition. He didn't make me feel rushed. He really made me feel like our job was the most important thing in the world. Thanks again!”

— Jo

“It was a great experience working with MB Jessee. The crew was careful and thorough as they painted the house, sealed stucco cracks, repaired dry-rotted wood, stained the deck, etc. Robert, Gersson, Jose, and all of the people involved in the process from the estimate to the job completion were friendly and professional.”

— Mike C.
Livermore, CA

“Everyone I dealt with was nice, helpful, and very professional. The price was reasonable! (I didn't feel like I was getting the "San Francisco price." The attention to detail and work quality was excellent. They did what they said they would do in the exact timeframe they said they would do. Highly recommend!”

— Tim Tyson

“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

“I cannot imagine finer painters--and I have worked with many. They work exceptionally hard. It is a joy to see their workmanship!”

— Alicia R.

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

— Paul Markovich

“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