Should I paint or stain my kitchen cabinets?

I was wondering if you could help me with something -- I have an entirely oak kitchen. I know it's the rage now to paint or gel stain cabinets. I've been considering it! The problem is I also have an oak farmhouse table and an oak china hutch. Not sure what to do. Trends come and go -- for all I know white and painted kitchens could be out of style in a year or two.
q should i paint or stain my kitchen cabinets, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting, painting cabinets, My oak galley style kitchen
My oak galley-style kitchen
q should i paint or stain my kitchen cabinets, kitchen cabinets, kitchen design, painting, painting cabinets, The eat in dining area of my home s kitchen with an oak farmhouse table and oak china cabinet
The eat-in dining area of my home's kitchen, with an oak farmhouse table and oak china cabinet.
  56 answers
  • Ann Ann on Aug 06, 2016
    Paint them. I did mine, and I absolutely love them.
    • Linkin Emory Linkin Emory on Aug 06, 2016
      Did you paint them yourself? My mom really wants to paint hers and I think they would look great.
  • Do you like it the way it is? If so, leave it and be happy. As you said, trends come and go. I wouldn't change anything in such a permanent way unless I was unhappy with it or was updating for a sale. On the other hand, if you don't like the finish that you currently have, changing them can make you very happy. However, you might consider just changing some other things as a way of meeting in the middle. (i.e knobs, pulls, lighting fixtures and hardware). You could also just change the countertops. A solid black granite would look very nice with your appliances and it is a classic look that can hold its own for a while. Also consider changing the floor. Granted those are bigger ticket items than a paint job, but it's just to offer some alternatives to the cabinets. It's really up to your budget and your tastes. :-) As far as oak cabinets go, yours appear to be in very good condition and look relatively new. If it were me, and assuming that you like oak cabinets, I would add some crown molding to finish the look and just update some of those other items that I mentioned before. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I have come across many people who love the oak look. But whatever you decide, good luck!
  • Lisa Lisa on Aug 06, 2016
    White cabinets NEVER go out of style. Painting them white will make your kitchen fresh and bright.
  • Toolpro Toolpro on Aug 06, 2016
    As you said painted will be out in a year or two. Your oak is lovely. I have real wood cabinets from the early 1970's. I have cleaned and polyurethaned them but I will not paint them. I have white appliances too. I have saved lots of money and time by not being trendy....and not just in the kitchen
  • Katy Bowss Katy Bowss on Aug 06, 2016
    I say, do you what makes you happy!! :)
  • Tammy Turner Tammy Turner on Aug 06, 2016
    find pictures of kitchens you like, go to open houses to check out different ideas, walk around in the kitchens to see how they make you feel. My cabinets look like the same color as yours, oak with a clear coat or lacquer. If you do choose to refinish identify, what finish is on your cabinets then get the best product for that type of finish. So what if you see something you like better a few years from now, it's just paint.
  • Vicki Shaw Vicki Shaw on Aug 06, 2016
    I have the same dilemma. I say leave it. Maybe change accent colour in the room or curtains or lighting. Gives the room a whole new vibe and doesn't cause regret!
  • Debbie doo right Debbie doo right on Aug 06, 2016
    First of all put some hardware on your doors and use a knob pull aligner. If you are going to keep them stained the resand and change the color of the stain. You need hardware to start.
  • Lizzy L Lizzy L on Aug 06, 2016
    I would paint the cabinets white or light grey, install farmhouse knobs and pulls, and paint the hutch with a fun color on the inside of it. You could also paint the table & chairs and remove the curtain.
    • See 1 previous
    • Lizzy L Lizzy L on Aug 06, 2016
      :) Yes, at the very least, remove the valance. I'd get fresh new curtains and a pretty curtain rod - maybe with crystal or vintage finials.
  • Linda Kroeger Tregler Linda Kroeger Tregler on Aug 06, 2016
    I say white never goes out of style, it's a classic. You can always change the backsplash to go with the trends, that would be easier and less expensive.
  • Suz9553630 Suz9553630 on Aug 06, 2016
    I love Transformations by grain shows through.
  • Penumbra7 Penumbra7 on Aug 07, 2016
    Don't touch that wonderful furniture- white up the room instead.
  • Shari Allen Shari Allen on Aug 07, 2016
    Do whatever makes you happy. like you said, trends come and go. if you like oak, don't paint them just to stay in style.
  • Pat Ruge Pat Ruge on Aug 07, 2016
    If you decide to paint, I highly recommend you purchase an electric sprayer - I bought mine on Amazon for about $60. By using chalk paint, there is little or no sanding, however, I do recommend you scrub them down to remove any dust and or kitchen oils. No brush strokes and once the area is prepped, it all goes very quickly.
  • Ann Ann on Aug 07, 2016
    Yes, my husband and I did. It was a lot of work and we took the time to do it right, and it really showed. We took all the doors and drawer fronts off, removed all the hardware, scrubbed them with Krudcutter. Sanded any funky spots (I had some raised grain on some doors). Then we put two coats of really good primer lightly sanding in between each coat. Then we used Benjamin Moore Advance paint, which is really remarkable paint. We put three coats in, first the front, then the backs. You have to wait 16 hours between each coat and then lightly sand between each one with like 220 grit. We waited three days to rehang everything, because that is what was suggested. We put all new hArdware on. It takes about three weeks for full cure of the paint, so treat with kid gloves. But man or man, people thing that we bought them new. We also caulked with paintable caulking where the the raised panels meet the each other. It made a much finer finish.
  • Nancy Nancy on Aug 07, 2016
    Try new hardware on the cabinetry first if you're just looking for an update. If it's still not enough "oomph" for you, then do what YOU like. If you like white, by all means, paint the cabinets white. If you want a darker stain, then do that. Change up your eating area with runners and accessories- much less permanent for what you obviously liked enough to buy as oak!
  • This may not be your style, but we had the same oak cabinets in our condo that had been painted and added painted panels to cover the arched panels.
  • 4426401 4426401 on Aug 07, 2016
    Ok here is my opinion...dont paint the table and hutch, but if you are looking for brighter, add an area rug, light color, and id the walls are not white already, ligthen them, get a new light fixture or celing fan, ditch the heavy draperies and mini blinds and get 2 inch woods or faux woods (Lowes has nice ones) and get a brighter table runner. You can start doing festive now...fall thru Christmas. Then the kitchen cabinets.....paint them girl! But can I just suggest hiring it done? It is a huge and time consuming and messy job that s better left to the pros. I did it myself on the same oak style cabinets some years ago and swore I would never do it again. Sanding, priming, sanding, priming, painting. ugh! And if you go pro, you can have them do the inside of your cabinets too, and...they will do the sanding and they should seal off your kitchen so that the rest of you house doesnt get innondated with sand dust. It will a little but trust me. While you have them there, if you have the old recessed flouresents in your kitchen ceiling have them removed and fill in the box and put can lights in. You will thankk me! lol. Have fun remodeling. You will be glad you did it.
    • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Aug 07, 2016
      Thanks! I am still not sure what I am going to do about the cabinets, but I definitely want to ditch the draperies and mini blinds! I'd also like to add color with a table runner.
  • Elaine Elaine on Aug 07, 2016
    First of all, only YOU can decide what to do with your kitchen. What don't you like? What would you like to change or dispose of? I'm always cautious of not following trends and can tell you that white kitchens never, ever date. If the kitchen were mine, I'd leave the furniture alone as you may find just changing the cupboards is enough of an improvement. I'm very partial to creamy white kitchens but also love the subdued "Heritage" type colors such as a muted Williamsburg Blue or subtle green. But that's just me. Follow what others above say about good prep work - cleaning off grease, etc., using a good primer and taking your time applying the paint. If you dislike your hardware, also decide that first as you may need to fill in screw holes and sand before painting. Down the road, if you find your furniture a bit heavy, you could leave the tabletop as is (stained) but paint the legs and skirting. Take into consideration the colors in the adjoining rooms so there is a "flow" in color. Good luck! PS: if you really want to rev up your decor, I'd suggest a much larger light fixture over your table as it looks quite tiny in scale. I've also noticed curtain valances are being removed to let in light and give a room a more updated look but that's a personal choice. Visit Houzz and type in "kitchens"; you'll get tons of ideas!
  • Moni Batthish Moni Batthish on Aug 07, 2016
    My opinion is first to clean the wood very well from dust and cooking oil, then I strongly recommend staining. So easy to do and will finish in no time. I've done the same with my cabinets 8 years ago and they're still brand new with a monthly cleaning
  • Trudy Trudy on Aug 07, 2016
    Not an opinion​, just info. I painted my cabinets white and did all the right things. They had many coats of paint so I stripped them, sanded, wiped down well, primered, and bought expensive paint. They still ended up looking crappy in a few years, chipped around the knobs and they show everything little drip.
  • Mary Mary on Aug 07, 2016
    I would add crown molding and new counter top. Adding nice pulls on drawers and doors would be nice. If you can afford to change the floor that would make a big difference. Using these new items choose wall color to change up both areas. You could change out all the chairs to Parsons chairs or just the two end chairs with small wing back chairs. I would not paint you furniture. You can brighten up the hutch by adding dishes and accessories you like. I think your space is very nice, maybe add accessories and see if you like the changes. If you are set on a painted kitchen do it. We are just finishing painted oak cabinets white to improve a dark kitchen and mismatched stains. It is hard and takes weeks to do it right so consider having professionals do it if you choose to paint them. I would go online and see what style of kitchen you like and try to bring that into your design. Good luck.
  • Smm7634893 Smm7634893 on Aug 07, 2016
    I had dark cabinets, painted and it didn't turn out well. Now I am thinking of trying again.
  • Jackie Jackie on Aug 07, 2016
    We had the same cabinets. LIke you, we had a lighter counter top and floor, so we decided going darker on the cabinets would be the thing to do. We gel stained them walnut and love the outcome!
  • Nan8294950 Nan8294950 on Aug 07, 2016
    Stain OR paint - can always be redone. White will never go out of style as the light reflectivity and spaciousness it adds is and will reamin - a real estate PLUS.
  • Danielle Odin Danielle Odin on Aug 07, 2016
    Instead of painting, why not bleach them that way you preserve the beauty of the oak and you don't add to the finish.
  • Linda Bryant Linda Bryant on Aug 07, 2016
    I love the look of wood and have oak cabinets in a rental but they need some updating; I am concerned that white or any color of painted cabinets will show wear more easily than wood...your thoughts?
  • Arlene Maresca Arlene Maresca on Aug 07, 2016
  • Rhonda S Rhonda S on Aug 07, 2016
    I think it would look great to paint or whitewash the upper cabinets and finish the bottom cabinets to a tone closer to the table and hutch. How wonderful to have those big solid pieces! Don't worry too much about fads. If you like it, you like it. You really only need to worry about trends if you expect to move sooner than you expect to want to refresh. The two tone cabinets are not matchymatchy. I think they would stand the test of time.
    • Lauren of Mom Home Guide Lauren of Mom Home Guide on Aug 07, 2016
      Thanks so much, Rhonda. That's one idea I've been thinking of -- to bring the oak cabinets down a tone or two to match the table and cabinet and to only paint the uppers white. Thanks for your comments! :)
  • Tricia Luke Hartsfield Tricia Luke Hartsfield on Aug 07, 2016
    I would paint them the sam color as the walls.
  • Sidney Sidney on Aug 07, 2016
    It looks lovely, treasure what u have, ; )
  • Lynn Lynn on Aug 07, 2016
    A white kitchen always looks good, bright, fresh. If this was mine, I would paint the cabinets Alabaster by Sherwin Williams in a semi gloss. Paint the table legs in the same color, only the legs and apron, and give the table top a nice rich coat of Minwax Dark Walnut. The china cabinet would be stained also and painted inside the top doors with the white and also the entire area that is between the top and bottom closed sections. You would be amazed at how much brighter it would look.
  • C. C. on Aug 08, 2016
    I peinted my with with a bruch on the grain and it looks fabulous
  • Janet Parker Janet Parker on Aug 08, 2016
    If you paint your cabinets, know in advance that, 1- you will still see the oak grain and 2- it is a very temporary update. Paint chips, peel, wipes off and becomes dingy looking after a very short period of time. If you're considering a fad or a temporary stop gap until you can afford to replace or reface the cabinets then, it's fine.
  • PIP9599094 PIP9599094 on Aug 08, 2016
    Looks great don;t open Pandora's box by trying to paint without an expert!