Kitchen Cabinet Painting Vs. Staining In San Diego

Should I stain or paint my kitchen cabinets? We get this question a lot from many homeowners around San Diego who are looking for kitchen cabinet refinishing services. Whether you just installed new kitchen cabinets or have existing ones that need a little TLC, both painting and staining are viable options.

However, while they all offer some level of surface protection and improve aesthetic appeal, they have varying characteristics that might make one favorable over the other in different situations. To help you choose the best option for your project, we need to take a quick look at the pros and cons each.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting

Kitchen cabinet painting is probably one of the most common cabinet refinishing methods, especially for older cabinets. A painting contractor typically scraps off any existing finish, applies a primer, and adds 1-2 coats of paint. Here are the pros and cons.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Pros and Cons


· Paint Offers Plenty of Color Options –it allows you to choose from an infinite array of color options to complement other elements of design in your kitchen. Unlike stain, paint sticks on the surface and forms an even coat that showcases any hues of your choice.

· Clean Aesthetic –Natural wood comes with character marks in the form of grains and knots. If you don’t find them flattering, adding a fresh coat of paint to your cabinets can produce a clean finish. Any paint color – from creams and whites to reds and grays –will cover any surface marks and imperfections. It can even restore older cabinets that have scores of wear and tear.

· Paint Applies Better to MDF – We see a lot of kitchen cabinets made from medium-density fiberboard (MDF). It’s an effective way to reduce costs when installing kitchen cabinets. Thankfully, this material also takes paint pretty well, and it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between real wood and MDF once you’ve painted them.


· Paint Hides The Natural Beauty Of Wood –As earlier mentioned, paint forms a thick layer on the surface of the cabinets and covers any character marks that you might want to showcase.

· Paint is Harder to Touch Up –touching up painted kitchen cabinets is a little tricky. You might not get the exact paint color match, especially for prefabricated or faded cabinets.

· Paint Tends to Cost More –painting kitchen cabinets involves much more work and materials compared to staining, and this will reflect on the painting estimate.

Kitchen cabinet staining Pros and Cons


· Stain allows the beauty of the wood to show through –Stain is thinner than paint, and seeps into the wood grains but doesn’t cover the natural beauty of the wood.

· Typically Costs Less –re-staining is not as difficult as painting since the contractor doesn’t have to strip off and sand the previous paint or apply a primer.

· Stain is Easier to Touch Up –you can easily find touch-up markers for stained cabinets. Additionally, stained cabinets are a little forgiving and won’t show a sharp contrast, even if you don’t find the exact color match.


· Stain reveals surface imperfections –in the mix of showcasing the beauty of the wood, stains will also allow nearly all surface blemishes to show through.

· Doesn’t Look as Good on MDF – Medium-density fiberboard doesn’t take stain as well as it takes paint. So staining kitchen cabinets made of MDF won’t give you an authentic look as what you will get with real wood.

· Dark Stains Don’t Hide Dust Well –dust particles and dirt stand out on dark kitchen cabinet stains, and this requires more upkeep. This con also applies to dark paints.

The Bottom Line

When deciding between staining and painting your kitchen cabinets, consider the above pros and cons, and see what works best for your situation. Generally, most homeowners in San Diego tend to choose to stain for relatively new, intact cabinets, and painting for older cabinets that have unappealing surface blemishes.

If you’re looking for high-quality and durable professional kitchen cabinet painting or staining services in San Diego, Peek Brothers Painting would love to help. To give us a try, call us on (858)505-1361 for a FREE estimate.