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Paint or Stain Kitchen Cabinet Doors CT?

By Blue Corona Dev Mar 7, 2014

Choosing cabinets is one of the biggest choices you have to make when you are remodeling your kitchen. First you have to pick the type of wood, then the cabinet style, the finish, and the hardware. Choosing between paint and stain is mainly a matter of style preferences, but there are some practical considerations as well. First, there is the cost. Painted cabinets are usually about 10-15% more expensive, but it depends on the manufacturer and the line you choose. Paint is a higher maintenance finish compared to a stain.

In terms of everyday life, paint will show smudges and dirt more than stained finishes. This is particularly true for white kitchen cabinets, but the bright airy feel is often worth the extra cleaning. Beyond regular upkeep, paint can chip. Chips can add character to certain types of finishes, but it is important to keep the wood sealed to prevent expansion and contraction. Wood naturally expands and contracts and kitchen cabinets are treated to limit such fluctuations, but it is impossible to prevent it entirely, especially here in Connecticut. CT cabinet doors will shrink in the winter when humidity decreases.

The shrinkage will create a small gap between the joints. If the cabinets are painted it will be more noticeable, but it contributes to the beauty of natural wood cabinetry. Beyond those few practical considerations, the choice of cabinet finishes for ct custom kitchen remodeling boils down to the style you are aiming for. There are endless color options for both stain and paint finishes. Cabinetry, is not “concrete,” so you can change the finish, too. Re-painting your kitchen cabinets is one of the best ways to refresh your kitchen without a complete remodel. It is easy to switch to a painted finish from a stained finish. If you paint your kitchen cabinets now, know that it will be harder to stain them later, but it is possible.


Stain highlights the grain of the wood and enhances its natural character. Kitchen cabinets with a stained finish have a rich natural appearance. Stained cabinets can contribute to a warm rustic kitchen remodel. If you are looking for a balance between rustic and refined, applying a toner before staining will equalize natural sap levels. The result will be a natural, but uniform finish. In the other direction, glazing can purposely create a more uneven, inconsistent look with contrasting light and dark tones. Glazing creates a deeper tone in wood grains, dents, worm holes, grooves, and corners. It is a great way to further showcase the grain of the wood and adds warmth to kitchen cabinets.


There is no doubt that fresh white paint is a great option for a modern CT kitchen remodel.  If you want both the fresh look of paint and the natural appeal of wood, character maple or cherry from Wellborn is an excellent option.

The wood grain may or may not show through the paint with other wood species. Glazing can also add dimension to painted cabinet doors if you want to achieve a fresh modern look without masking the character of the wood. Glazes are semi-transparent and have a slightly darker pigment than the paint. After glaze is applied, it is wiped off at the surface level, which highlights profiles and grooves.

Other Finish Options

Glazing Effects

Open grain wood:  Glazing open grain wood species, for example oak, will accent the wood grain, resulting in an interesting ticking effect.

Bead Board: Bead board has grooves, which will retain more stain than other sections of the cabinet face. Glazing further accents the bead board grooves.

Manufacturing ‘Natural’ Wood Features

Small DentsCabinet manufacturers can strike wood to create small indentations that mimic the look of aged wood.

Worm Holes Worm holes are even smaller round holes that naturally occur from insect penetration. Cabinet makers can recreate these quirks.

Distressed and Antique Finishing

Burnishing Burnishing is a technique that darkens the profile edges and creates an antiqued effect.

Rub Through Thoughtfully placed random sanding exposes the natural, unstained wood tone. Sanding the corners and edges creates a refined vintage look.

Rasping As the name implies, a metal rasp is used to lightly distress edges and raised profiles. This creates a rustic antique look.

Dry Brushing Applying a dark stain to ‘distressed’ areas of the cabinet door highlights the antique character.

Painting Techniques

Splatter: Carefully splattered paint on either a stained or painted kitchen cabinet creates a cottage style aesthetic for a homey, welcoming custom kitchen remodel.

Cabinets doors, CT Custom Kitchen Remodeling

When you are selecting finish options for your kitchen cabinet doors, think about the overall aesthetic of the design for your CT kitchen remodel. The natural features of wood fascinate many people. You could spend hours learning about different species and what causes variations in wood color and texture from one tree to another. If you are drawn to nature in this way, choose wood with character, and pick a finish that will accent those features. For example, if you choose character maple or character cherry, don’t cover those special, naturally occurring marks you chose the wood for with a dark finish! We suggest that you look at several wood species and finishes in person. We have samples in our Meriden, CT showroom, as well as top rated designers who can help you narrow down the possibilities. We hope to see you soon, and help spruce up you cabinet doors in the future!

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