how to paint stained wood cabinets

How To Stain Kitchen Cabinets: An Expert Guide 

When kitchen cabinets are in good condition but look outdated, giving them a makeover with stain can refresh the entire space. From eliminating an out-of-style finish that immediately dates the room (like 1990s honey oak) to taking painted cabinets from modern to rustic, stain effectively ushers in a total transformation.

While staining your cabinets can add warmth and character to your home, the process can be time consuming and requires attention to detail for the best results. Learn more about how to stain kitchen cabinets from Southern Oak Home Renovations, the premier source for home renovations in Atlanta, GA

The Keys to Successfully Staining Kitchen Cabinets 

The first step in successfully staining kitchen cabinets begins with choosing the right stain. Like paint, a stain color that looks amazing on the can or store display can look vastly different in your home. Your contractor can present you with samples of several options, or you can sample a few shades on some scrap wood to see what it will look like in the space. 

Whatever color you select, be sure to use a high-quality stain intended for indoor use. Some wood stains include a sealer that eliminates the need to apply a topcoat or wax to protect the stained wood; if they don’t, expect to apply a final coat of polyurethane on top of the stain to protect it from wear and tear. 

Don’t Skimp on Prep When Staining Kitchen Cabinets 

Selecting the right wood stain is important, but nothing impacts the final results more than how you prepare the cabinets for staining. You cannot discuss how to stain kitchen cabinets without addressing the need to thoroughly prepare the surface for the stain. Most people find the prep work the most challenging part of the project, but putting in the effort will make a big difference to the finished product. 

Whether the cabinets currently have stain or paint on them, you must thoroughly remove all of it to ensure an even, smooth, and attractive finish. After removing the cabinet doors and hardware (be sure to mark them so you can replace them in the correct spots), thoroughly clean them to remove accumulated grease and grime. This may require using a product like trisodium phosphate (TSP), a powerful degreaser. 

The next step involves stripping the existing finish. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply a varnish or paint stripper to the cabinets, wait the directed amount of time, and then scrape off as much finish as possible. After the wood dries, sand the wood to remove any last bits of paint and prepare it for staining. 

Stop Stains and Deterioration 

Before you apply a single drop of wood stain to your sanded cabinets, you need to pre-stain them for moisture and stain blocking. Make any minor repairs to the wood, like filling in scratches or gouges, then apply a pre-stain wood conditioner to ensure the panels accept the stain. Allow the conditioner to dry completely before moving on. 

Tips for Achieving the Best Finish 

When the cabinets are ready for stain, apply it with a brush. A foam brush can help you achieve a smooth, even finish without brush marks, or use a brush with long, soft bristles for a flawless paint job. 

Drying times for wood stains vary, but it typically takes two to four hours for the first coat to dry completely. You can apply a second coat if you want a deeper color, but if you do, lightly scuff the surface with fine-grit sandpaper or steel wool before you do to ensure the stain adheres. 

After the final coat of stain dries, brush on a coat of polyurethane to give the cabinets a glossy finish and protect the finish from the hazards of daily life. You might be able to skip this step if you choose a stain with a built-in sealant. When the polyurethane dries, lightly sand the finish to smooth it out, then reinstall the doors.

Leave Kitchen Upgrades to the Professionals for a Simpler Solution 

If learning how to stain kitchen cabinets and discovering the in-depth process for achieving the best look is more than you want to take on yourself, turn to the home renovation experts of Southern Oak Home Renovations instead.

Our home improvement experts can show you the value of kitchen remodeling and transform your current space into a flawless, designer showplace you can’t wait to spend time in. Call (404) 806-4712 today to schedule a consultation and explore the possibilities for your Atlanta, GA, area home. 

Eric French

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