Painted vs. Stained Wood Doors by Project Type

One of the advantages of designing with wood interior doors for a commercial project is their versatility. Different combinations of wood species, finish, stain and paint colors make for almost limitless options. Paint and stain each offer their own advantages and limitations when specifying wood doors. Depending on whether you’re designing a hotel, school, healthcare facility or office, knowing what separates painted wood doors and stained doors can help you select the best option for your project .

6 Factors that Influence the Choice of Painted or Stained Wood Doors

Both factory applied stain and paint provide a high-quality finish that can complement a wide range of styles. Each has its advantages, much of which depends on the type of project you’re designing and your overall goals. These are some factors to consider when comparing painted or stained wood doors.

1. Cost

Stained wood door products typically cost more than painted wood products, as applying stain evenly and correctly takes great skill. The investment can pay off though, in terms of beauty and long life.

2. Durability

Painted wood has the potential for chipping and scratching, although the door surface type makes a big difference. Additions like impact edges can also help a door last longer.

3. Color

Paint naturally allows a much wider range of colors, and a more predictable color outcome. With stain, the end result varies by the species and wood cut, as well as how it’s applied. Factory stain application lends to better consistency across all doors for a project.

4. Trendy vs. Timeless

Interior design color trends come and go, so your client might end up wanting to update painted doors in the future. Stain often provides a more timeless look, especially with the classic beauty of stile and rail doors.

5. Style

Stained wood doors can contribute to a warmer look, from rustic to sophisticated. Clear stain gives the most natural look which works well, for example, with Scandinavian design styles. On the other hand, painted doors can create a more contemporary look and contribute to a mood, from soothing to playful and anything in between.

6. Door Surface Type

Some door surfaces take stain or paint better than others. You may want to decide on a surface type first, depending on needs for durability and core type.

These factors will help you make smart and stylish design choices, best matched for the functionality of the environment.

modern office building lobby

Choosing Stained and Painted Doors By Project Type


Painted doors are often preferred for hospitality projects. They tend to be economical, durable, and meet any hotel chain’s brand standards. However, wood veneers give you the warmth of wood along with design versatility.

We recommend the Aspiro select wood veneer for lobbies and reception areas and painted MDO doors for guest rooms. Take a look at our guide to Complete Hospitality Door Solutions for a full range of ideas for your next hotel project.


Durability is the name of the game when designing schools and universities. For the highest traffic areas like auditoriums and stairwells, paintable MDO makes a great canvas for school spirit colors. MDO gives premium adhesion for factory-applied paints. Another popular choice for schools, attack-resistant door openings can be specified with painted, laminate or wood veneer surfaces.


High impact surfaces and edges, along with clean edges, meet many of the needs of healthcare facility doors. High impact Aspiro series doors work well in many areas and pair with radiation cores, STC-rated cores and other performance options. Stained Aspiro authentic stile and rail doors make a great impression for lobbies and offices.


Office design styles vary tremendously from hip, creative workplaces to staid and serious professional services offices. Whether you want painted interior doors or stained ones, you are sure to find an option that fits your vision. MDF or MDO surfaces might be best if you have the perfect paint color in mind, while a hardwood or softwood surface can provide a great stainable surface.

Masonite Architectural Has You Covered for Factory Finished Doors

Every space calls for its own solution, meaning there isn’t a wrong or right way to decide between stained and painted doors except to fulfill the requirements of each project completely. However, there are many differences between these styles of doors, and many factors that play a role in selecting the right doors for your desired space. Masonite Architectural offers an expansive catalog of factory painted and factory stained wood doors that provide a consistent, high-quality result for any project type.

We offer a variety of colors and finishes, including seven standard paint colors, 12 stain colors (availability varies by wood species and door series), and custom color matching. Our finishes are also UV resistant and made from environmentally sensitive water based polyurethane.

Ordering paint or stain samples can be a big help by letting you see how a finish looks in natural light and in combination with your other design elements. Request your wood door samples today.