When it comes to choosing a color for your cabinets, you have three basic options. You can leave them in their natural state, you can paint them, or you can stain them. If you want to leave them natural, you should still consider some kind of finish to protect the wood from moisture and scratches. Polyurethane is a popular finish for protecting wood. If you stain the wood, you’ll need to finish it with some polyurethane as well. If you paint it, you likely won’t need to add another coat of finish because the paint will serve as the protectant. There are advantages and disadvantages to both staining and painting.
Ease of Application
To apply stain to your cabinets, you need to first sand them smooth. Clean off any sawdust with a slightly damp cloth. Then apply a coat of stain in your preferred color. Allow that stain to set for a few minutes, then wipe off the excess. If the color isn’t as deep as you would like it, you can wait until that first coat dries and apply another one. WAit for that to dry, and then apply a layer of polyurethane. Once that’s dry, your cabinets are finished. To paint your cabinets, you will likely just need to sand them. Clean off the sawdust, and apply a layer of paint. Two thin layers of paint are better than one thick coat.
So, in most cases, paint has fewer steps than staining. However, covering up a very dark wood with a light paint color might require you to use a layer of primer. Once you add in the priming layer, the amount of work is about the same.
The prominence of the wood’s grain is one of the biggest differences between paint and stain. Stain seeps into the wood, so it typically does not cover the grain of the wood. A true black stain might obscure the grain but the look of the wood still remains prominent. Paint sits on top of the wood, so it largely obscures the look of the wood. The physical features of the grain will remain but the different colors will be painted over.
If you want your cabinets to look like natural wood, you should consider staining them. If you just want to give them a coat of a preferred color, paint will suffice.
Cabinets can be painted or stained to achieve your preferred color. The amount of work is similar, so it’s mostly an aesthetic choice.