Re-staining kitchen cabinets

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How to make your kitchen fresh and brand new? Or what if you do not like the color of the cabinets anymore? There are many opportunities to make a good facelift for the kitchen and make it look like the oak, cherry or maple.

Expensive kitchen cabinets can become outdated, annoying or old-fashioned. For that reason many homeowners consider refinishing the cabinets with a stain color that they prefer.

Staining cabinets is a stress-free, simple and not expensive solution. It will change the used, outdated kitchen into the modern and beautiful place. What you need to restain kitchen cabinets is a good right stain, a rag and a sander and just few days.

Restaining kitchen cabinets needs some knowledge and persistency, however it’s still a good approach to give kitchen a makeover.

What tools you may need for the process?

Plan your project and gather all necessary tools before starting the re-staining process, such as:

  • Scrapers, sandpapers, sponges and rags to clean and scrub the surfaces.
  • Painter’s tap to mask areas that are not about to be coated
  • Newspapers and other possible paper to wrap and protect the nearby surfaces while working
  • Paint stripper and primer
  • Good paintbrushes and paint sprayers to put the finish layer – seems to be one of the most important purchase. From the characteristics of the brush will depend the entire staining proces.

How to restain kitchen cabinets?

  1. The first part of the re-staining process is to detach the doors from the cabinets and take down the upper cabinets. Also find all the tools that you might need during the process. Before removing, make labels to all cabinets and doors in order to find the right part and reinstall them correctly. Then, unbolt the hardware, including knobs, hinges, pulls, and put them together in a container.
  2. Second step is to shred the old finish from the doors and other surfaces. In order to do it easily, use stripping gel with a brush to several cabinets at one time. Let it dry for around 1o minutes, until the surface began to soften and bubble.
  3. Then, take off the old finish with a scraper, following direction of the grain. Scrub the old lacquer to a box, and make sure you protect your hands with gloves and face with mask, also open the windows. Scrape all persistent spots with the steel wool. Wipe off the stripped varnish with a cloth dampen to remove any residue, and clean all surfaces with the tack rag.
  4. When the surfaces are completely dry then you can paint on the fresh finish with long flat strokes, then after 6 hours, add another coat.
  5. Add more protective layers of polyurethane paint to the cabinets, you can use paint sprayer. Apply one layer, after 24 hours of drying make another layer. Make certain the stain and the finish are well-matched and work together. If you are not too selective about the color of the stain, there are many combinations existing for amateurs. You cannot fully control the final results, but this option is easier and more convenient.
  6. Let all the surfaces dry for one day and then put back all hardware.
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Staining is a good method to have a new, fresh appeal for the kitchen cabinets, that is impossible to get with paint. This method is fully available and convenient for do-your-selvers. All you need is some elbow grease.

However it needs some work to do. And before starting you need to find out some details about the cabinets. For instance, whether the cabinet doors are painted. Take one door and sand a small area off and repeat it at the back of a still. If there is a hardwood, you can continue scraping. But if the cabinets are fiberboard, resting is not possible. In case the solution is to apply a veneer or purchase the new doors.

Easier way

Probably you can avoid the entire messy job for restating kitchen cabinets. If your kitchen needs more dark tones than the one it actually has, you possibly can shade the existing stain.

Start with cleaning up the grease and wax off the cabinets with water. Then sand the cabinets a little and clean the dust with a rag.

After wiping off, you can try to tint with polyurethane finish to check what color you will achieve. Those products combine varnish and stain in one mixture.

Otherwise if you need a lighter tone, take off the clear finish using the sand as described above. It should be much more easy than removing a paint. However you still need chemical stripper or bleach to get rid of the old stain. Continue with sanding and re-staining, and remember to clear-coating.

It’s usually useful before applying the product on the entire surface to try it on the back side. You need to make sure that you will be satisfied with the results and the work will be done.

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Useful guidelines for re-staining the cabinets


  • There some tips, conditional to the type of the wood. For example, sanding oak kitchen cabinets with fine-grit sandpaper would be is required to smooth the surface. However, this way you block the pores that would permit the cabinet to embrace the stain. So wiping it off with a cloth, would be preferable to get rid of the sand that is clogging the pores so it lets the staining.
  • Natural brushes are perfect for oily stains. If the product is water-based, consider using a nylon brush. Nylon-polyester brushes are useful for the majority of the finishes and stains.
  • To scrape patterns engraved on the cabinets, double the sandpaper into small squares, this way you reach every edge and angle.

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