The Difference Between Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing vs. Painting in 2022

cabinet refinishing for a white kitchen
Cabinets are a prominent feature around the home, both in kitchens and in bathrooms. Like any household feature, they are known to succumb to wear and tear with time. Whether your cabinets need a little love and attention or you are just looking for a change, you might find yourself wondering whether you should refinish them or paint them. In this article, we will break down the differences between these two approaches to changing up your cabinets!

Cabinet RefinishingWhat is Cabinet Refinishing?

Cabinet refinishing is an intensive process that is focused more on restoration. With this process, you will take the cabinets and break them down to an extent, often by sanding them down. The goal when stripping your cabinets is to remove the initial finish and leave the cabinets bare so that you can treat them again. After the cabinets have been sanded down or chemically treated, you will apply a new finish.

What is Cabinet Painting?

Cabinet painting is just as the name implies—the act of painting over your cabinets to give them a brand-new look. This is a less intensive and much friendlier approach to updating your cabinets. It allows you to take your existing cabinets and completely refresh them with a new style. Painting cabinets can offer a huge change to the appearance of your kitchen.

Why Are These Methods Commonly Confused?

Many people find themselves confused about what actually separates these processes. This is because, in both instances, you are changing the appearance of your cabinets. However, the processes involved and the general outcome are known to be very different. Even though refinishing and painting can both offer changes to the appearance of your cabinets, they are not truly similar in any other way.

What Makes Them So Different?

While both of these approaches allow you to upgrade the cabinets in your home, the truth is that they offer different benefits. Each approach has its own unique outcome, so it is important to understand what you want to see from these changes. Let’s discuss a few of the more common differences between painting and refinishing.

Refinishing Maintains the Original Style

When you refinish cabinets, the entire process is focused on the original wood involved. Cabinet refinishing involves stripping them down and applying a new finish or stain, allowing you to subtly change the way that they appear.

Finishes and stains will preserve the original look of your cabinet’s materials. This means that, in the end, you will have cabinets that look exactly like your original cabinets, just generally in a different shade. For wooden cabinets, your cabinets will still look like wooden cabinets Painting Offers More Room for Creativity

While cabinet refinishing, you will preserve that initial look and style. Painting, on the other hand, allows you to really explore your creativity. Modern interior design is leaning more towards cabinet painting because of just how much creativity it offers.

When you choose to paint your cabinets, you can make any change that you want to see. Your cabinets can be any color, allowing you to really explore the options that are available. Many people find that painting is a much bigger change than cabinet refinishing. Whether you want light blue cabinets or vibrant yellow cabinets, painting accommodates your interests.

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Refinishing Can Correct Some Visible Damage

Since a part of cabinet refinishing is sanding the material down, many find that it is a good way to correct minor damage. When you sand down the damaged materials, you can smooth out some of those unsightly blemishes from past events. This can be a wonderful opportunity to make some of these corrections.

With that being said, if you know how to correctly treat your cabinets, you can also sand down any blemishes and manage them prior to painting. Still, this is one perk that comes with the standard cabinet refinishing process.

Painting Can Cover Damage

While sanding down some damage can provide a better look, paint does an excellent job of covering damage. If you have an unsightly stain or blemish on your cabinets, you will find that paint can completely cover up any of these problems.

Painting also does a great job of balancing more significant damage so that it is less noticeable. This is because people are more likely to look at the color, whereas cabinet refinishing often compels people to look at the wood design as a whole.


Refinishing Takes Longer

The kitchen cabinet refinishing process takes much longer than painting. This is because there are multiple steps involved, and many of the steps can take a fair bit of time. While painting cabinets can be done at any point in time, refinishing makes it so you need to follow each step slowly and carefully, sometimes waiting on stains and finishes for extensive periods of time to set. It is also very likely that you will need to repeat certain steps, adding to the time it takes.

Painting is Easier to Change

With all of the work that goes into refinishing, it is not a process that is easily repeated. Fortunately, painting is much easier in this regard. While refinishing takes a significant amount of time, painting is considered a faster and more forgiving approach. This means that if you don’t like the color that you chose, it is an easier process to make the change.

Some people are partial to painting because it allows them to make changes more frequently. If you are the kind of person who likes to make frequent changes to your decor, you will find that painting is much more accommodating.

The Takeaway

Both painting and cabinet refinishing offer their own unique outcomes and benefits. Whether you are looking to refresh your existing cabinets, or you want a complete overhaul, you will find that there is an approach to meet your needs.

Take time to consider what you want the final look to be for your room and what kind of commitment you are willing to take on to make the change. No matter what, a fresh look for your kitchen cabinets is just around the corner!

If you’re interested in cabinet refinishing for your home and are located near Miami, feel free to use our virtual quote form to get started on an estimate. Also, check out our 75+ google reviews.

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