Post by Stacey Walker. Stacey mostly works behind the scenes for Walker Woodworking, managing day to day operations, and marketing. Stacey has helped many clients create their dream space.

Frequently asked questions about wood cabinets

Having been in the cabinet building business for 20 years means we have received countless questions about wood.

Here are just a few:

  • How do I maintain my wood cabinets?
  • Which cabinets can be painted?
  • Can wood cabinets be restained?

We thought it might be helpful if we shared some of our more common questions and answers with you that can help in the decision-making process or give you a few tips that will keep your cabinets looking great for years to come!

Can wood cabinets be painted?

Yes, with current trends, more than half of our clients are choosing to break away from the standard wood stains and add a pop of color to their design with painted cabinetry. This is a great way to create a statement piece in the room and the final results are stunning.

Can wood cabinets be re-stained?

Yes. While it is technically possible to re-stain cabinetry, the amount of labor involved often negates the cost savings in doing so. It is easier to apply a coat of paint to cabinets that have been previously stained, but there will still be a fair amount of labor involved and technical knowledge of which paints are compatible with previous finishes. Read this article from Houzz that compares the pros and cons of painted vs. stained, click here

Can dark wood cabinets be painted white?

Again the answer is yes. However, if the cabinetry is new construction, darker lumber such as walnut is generally much more expensive and it makes no sense to paint it. If you are trying to re-finish existing or older cabinetry that is dark, several coats of primer may need to be applied before painting to ensure the old color does not show through.

What to wash wood cabinets with?

This is a very common question as all of our clients want to make sure that their new cabinets will stay in excellent condition.

Our only recommendation is to clean your cabinets whether painted or stained with a damp, warm, lightly soapy dishcloth.  The dish soap will break up any grease residue but will not harm the cabinets.  We do not suggest ever putting any type of cleaner on our cabinets. 

What type of wood cabinets is best?

No lumber is necessarily better than any other. Each has different characteristics. Learn more about popular choices here. Ultimately it depends on the project, budget, and your own personal preference. 

Real wood cabinets versus MDF 

MDF stands for medium-density fiberboard and is a high-grade composite material. Because MDF is made from recycled wood fibers and resin it is considered a “green” product. They are designed to withstand heat and humidity. 

Real wood cabinets, however, have the benefits of exceptional quality and durability, plus they will often outlast the homeowners, not to mention they are fully customizable.

Most cabinets are constructed with both MDF & real wood. When painting cabinets, it’s ideal to use MDF in the center panel of the door or drawer front. The benefits of MDF is that it does not expand and contract with temperature differences and humidity as much as wood and keeps the paint from cracking over time. Plus it is more cost-effective.

Wood Cabinets pros and cons


  • It has distinct characteristics: each type of wood is unique and adds a special touch to any design.
  • Multiple choices to choose from and custom options: custom means you get exactly what you need.
  • Durability and easier to repair: they are built to last


  • Higher price point (though it depends on the wood choice)
  • Longer lead time depending on the wood type.
  • Susceptible to the elements. (ie: humidity)

Which wood is budget-friendly

Oak, Cherry, and Maple tend to be the more friendly price point option as they are readily available. Pricing with these is also determined by market demand depending on current trends in cabinet finishes.  

Informed decision

At Walker Woodworking we believe it is important to educate our clients because an informed decision is a good decision. We hope that these questions and answers were helpful to you and will assist you in choosing cabinets for your next project. If you have further questions please feel free to reach out to us or visit our showroom located in Uptown Shelby where you can see samples of our work.