Wood Kitchen Cabinets – Natural or Painted?

Is it best to leave your wood kitchen cabinets natural without being painted, or is it best to paint them – both for looks as well as durability?  Read the pros and cons of both here and make your own decision!


If you have existing wood kitchen cabinets and you are trying to decide whether to paint them or leave them as is, or if you are putting in a new kitchen and trying to decide what type of cabinets, this article is for you!

All over the internet I keep seeing gorgeous pictures of painted kitchen cabinets.  We are not just talking neutral paints! All kinds of colors seem to be popular right now – including pink and even red!

So if you have what you might regard as relatively boring wood kitchen cabinets, should you paint them?  Will it be a worthwhile investment to upgrade those cabinets and paint them?

Should you paint them certain colors? Are painted wood cabinets more durable than natural wood ones? We have all the answers here!

Is it best to leave your wood kitchen cabinets natural or better to paint them?Photo by Dominika Roseclay

Natural Wood Cabinets

Natural wood cabinets are kitchen cabinets that just allow the natural wood that they are made of show through.

This can be any type of wood – maple, oak, cherry, walnut, and beech are some of the most common types of wood used for kitchen cabinets.

All those woods vary in color and shades, from the lightest through to the darkest. The type of wood that is used also varies in price.

Natural wood cabinets are found in many kitchens, and are probably the majority of kitchen cabinet materials.

There are many advantages to natural Wood Kitchen Cabinets:

  1. Timeless and Classic Look: Natural wood cabinets have a timeless appeal that can complement various kitchen styles, including traditional and modern.
  2. Warmth and Character: The natural grain and color variations of wood add warmth and character to a kitchen, and can create a cozy and inviting atmosphere.
  3. Durability: High-quality wood cabinets are durable and can withstand regular wear and tear, making them a long-lasting investment.
  4. Easy to Maintain: Wood cabinets can be relatively easy to maintain with proper care and occasional refinishing.
  5. Versatility: Wood can be stained or finished in different shades, allowing you to choose from a wide range of colors and styles.

Disadvantages of Natural Wood Kitchen Cabinets:

  1. Susceptible to Moisture Damage: Wood can be susceptible to damage from water and humidity, which may lead to warping or discoloration over time.
  2. Expensive: Solid wood cabinets can be more expensive than other materials, making them a higher upfront investment.
  3. Limited Color Options: While wood can be stained in different shades, it might not offer the wide range of color options available with painted cabinets.

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

Painted kitchen cabinets are usually natural wood cabinets that have been painted and treated. 

You can buy ready-painted cabinets for your kitchen, or you can paint your own natural wood cabinets.

Painting kitchen cabinets can be a great choice if you want to revamp your kitchen, but don’t want the expense of a whole new kitchen.

Is it best to leave your wood kitchen cabinets natural or better to paint them?Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko



Advantages of Painted Kitchen Cabinets:

  1. Wide Range of Colors: Painted cabinets offer endless color options, allowing you to match your kitchen’s decor and change the color easily if desired.
  2. Easy to Clean: Painted surfaces are typically easy to clean and resistant to moisture, making them ideal for busy kitchens.
  3. Modern and Versatile: Painted cabinets can provide a modern and fresh look, and they are versatile enough to fit into various design aesthetics.
  4. Affordable: Depending on the material used for the cabinet base, painted cabinets can be more affordable compared to natural wood.

Disadvantages of Painted Kitchen Cabinets:

  1. Prone to Chipping and Scratching: Painted surfaces may be more susceptible to chipping and scratching, especially if the paint is of lower quality.
  2. Requires Regular Maintenance: Painted cabinets might require more regular maintenance and touch-ups to keep them looking pristine.
  3. Less Natural Aesthetics: Some homeowners prefer the natural beauty and warmth of wood over the more uniform appearance of painted cabinets.

Is it best to leave your wood kitchen cabinets natural or better to paint them?Photo by Kam Idris on Unsplash

What is more on-Trend Painted or Natural?

Trends come and go, especially in kitchens. If you are re-doing your kitchen you want to make sure that you can live with that new kitchen for many years.

If you plan to sell your home in the near future you also need to make sure that others can also live with that kitchen.

Here are some current popular kitchen cabinet trends right now:

  1. Two-Tone Cabinets: Combining different colors or finishes for upper and lower cabinets to add visual interest. For instance, the bottom cabinets are white, but the top cabinets are colored.
  2. Dark Colors: Rich, dark-colored cabinets like navy blue, deep green, or black have been gaining popularity for a bold and elegant look.
  3. Open Shelving: Mixing open shelving with closed cabinets creates a more airy and contemporary vibe.
  4. Minimalist Design: Clean lines and sleek designs are favored in modern kitchens.
  5. Mixed Materials: Incorporating different materials, such as wood, metal, or glass, are great for added texture and contrast.



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