I’ve gotten the question about the difference between IKEA white and white stain quite a bit. The questions mostly stem from my nursery dresser, which is the IKEA Hemnes 8-drawer dresser in white stain, and it’s available for $249.
I thought I’d share the difference between white and white stain. I own pieces of furniture in both finishes so I feel like I can offer decent insight into the matter. Because it’s obviously very controversial, and I’m certain people lose sleep over the painstaking decision between the two.
I’m going to tackle white first and then move on to white stain.
White is more of a creamy, off-white and has a semi-gloss finish.
My home office workstation and shelving unit, the former 5×5 Expedit (now called Kallax), is white.
You can tell the difference between the creaminess of the IKEA white and the bright white storage boxes, as well as the ultra white paint I used on my file cabinet, especially if you look at the file cabinet handles.
Owen’s nursery closet shelving unit, the 2X4 Kallax, is also white.
There are a few posts out in blogland that touch on color matching the IKEA white to specific paint colors. Here’s a really good post by One Little Project. She matches the IKEA white color to different brands of paint. And DecorChick! had the white color matched and shares the color formula here.
Why am I bringing this up? Well, if you’re like me and live 2.5 hours from the nearest IKEA (but not for long– IKEA Indianapolis is coming in fall 2017!) you need to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting and that the item you want is in stock. Or maybe you live near an IKEA but don’t want to buy a piece of furniture, lug it home, assemble it, and then decide that it’s not the right shade of white. So if you’re trying to see if IKEA white will match another piece of furniture in your room, you can grab a paint sample and see if it’ll work.
White stain is more of a bright, true white. It also has less of a sheen than white. I’d say that it’s more of an eggshell finish.
Since it’s a stain, a little bit of the pine woodgrain shows through but it’s not terribly noticeable. Plus, I kind of like it since it adds a little bit of character to the dresser.
I went with white stain Hemnes dresser in Owen’s nursery because his crib is a bright white, and I wanted them to look cohesive. Plus, the trim in his room is painted ultra white, and I knew the white stain would look better next to the baseboards compared to the white finish. Yeah, the nursery closet shelving unit is white, but the doors on his closet are closed more than they’re open, and the Kallax isn’t available in white stain.
Here’s a closer look at the drawers. As you can see, the wood grain is barely noticeable.
Here are some things to consider when choosing between white and white stain.
If you’re wanting to use the dresser in a nursery and have it double as a changing station, which I highly recommend because having a dresser AND and a changing seems like a waste of space to me, you may want to consider some things. Since the white has a semi-gloss finish, it’ll be easier to wipe down. If you really want the white stain, but are still concerned, you can always put a clear coat of poly on the top to help with easier clean up. We didn’t add poly to ours and wiping it down has never been a problem.
Another thing to consider is that it’ll be easier to touch up the white with some color-match semi-gloss paint. I tried finding a color match for the white stain but couldn’t find anything. I’m going to call the IKEA help desk and see if they can help me out with that.
Between the two different types of finishes, I feel like the white is more durable than the white stain. There’s some small dents on the top of Owen’s dresser. The white stain is starting to rub off a little where we stand to change his diaper. My white finish workstation has held up fairly well over the past few years. There’s a couple of small scratches that have taken off the paint but there’s no dents.
Which do you prefer– white or white stain?