The arguments for painting are many: a fresh coat of paint has a way of hiding the standard-ness of many cheap cabinets. Instantly, a bright white or creme, or a funky color like lime or aqua can lend a standard builder’s kitchen a bit of panache. Instant drama in a paint can. And yet, painting natural wood is never an easy step to take. Some wood purists feel a coat of paint defiles what otherwise would be all that natural beauty shining through.

Design Dilemma: To Paint or Not to Paint Wood Cabinets - Wood - Cabinets

You can see right here what a coat of paint can do. In the before photo, we have the standard boring builder’s cabinets in an oak finish. Good enough but nothing special. Then, joila!, good enough is transformed into pretty darn snazzy, thanks to a jazzy color scheme and new door hardware. What a difference. In fact, the owners were able to enjoy the best of both worlds, by letting some of the natural wood show through on some doors.

So if you’re having the “painting the cabinets” debate in your own head right now, here’s what you should keep in mind:

1) Do you like how your cabinets look? Sounds like a silly question, but sometimes we realize over time that our plain wooden cabinets aren’t that bad. But if you cringe everytime you enter the kitchen, that’s probably a sign in favor of painting.

2) Is your wood low-quality? All wood is not made equal. Cherry cabinets, for example, are not in the same league as plywood. If the wood on your cabinets is obviously of low quality, don’t hesitate to get out the paint brush.

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