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Need a custom look on your cabinets at an affordable price? Why not consider cabinet staining? Pre-finished cabinets are very costly and you don’t always get to find the ones that really work with your home decor.

As painting experts, we always recommend getting unfinished cabinets and then applying a stain and finish before you hang those cabinets. Cabinet staining does not require expert skills, in fact, you can easily do it yourself at home with a little bit of basic painting knowledge and some skill.

For example, if you have an unfinished oak cabinet, you could go for a red chestnut finish which will darken the wood and give it a warm red tone while maintaining the natural beauty of the oak wood. There are a lot of other things you can do with cabinet staining.

If you want to stain your cabinets at home, you have come to the right place. Our expert guide will help you step by step in getting a finish that’ll look professional and welcoming for your home. 

So grab your gear and get started. 

What You’ll Need

Before you begin cabinet staining at home, you’ll need to have these tools and materials at hand. These can be acquired from most home-improvement stores in and around Texas. 

  • Wood stain
  • Tack cloth
  • 220 sandpaper
  • Foam brush
  • Pre-stain conditioner
  • Wipe-on polyurethane
  • Sanding block
  • A pair of scissors
  • Unfinished cabinets

Remove all the Hardware Before you Begin

  • Unfinished cabinets come equipped with hinges, knobs, and pulls. Before you begin the cabinet staining project, make sure that you have removed any of this hardware from the cabinet. 

To remove the hinges, you’ll only need a pair of screwdrivers. Most hinges and other hardware is installed on the cabinet with screws. Remove these screws carefully and the hinges should easily come off.

Sand the Surface

  • A lot of unfinished cabinets arrive at a store with a sanded surface that is ready to be stained. However, it is still a good idea to do a little bit of your own sanding with a 220 sandpaper to remove any dust and dander collected on the cabinets in storage.

Use a sanding block and make sure you sand in the direction of the grain only. To sand the rails, make sure to rail across the top of the stile and then move on to rail. 

Remove any Sanding Dust

  • When you sand the surface, you’ll notice a lot of dust will be left behind. Use a tack cloth to remove all this sand dust. Make sure to thoroughly remove the dust with a sticky cloth to ensure that dust does not come in your way when you are staining. 

A sticky cloth can be bought off from most paint and home improvement stores.

Your Work Area Needs to be Prepared

  • If you’re working at home and you don’t want to ruin the surface of the floor or table you are working on, cover it with a drop cloth or a newspaper. 

You can also cut squares of cotton cloth and use them as applicators for the pre-stain process. The same cloth can be used for staining later on. If you do not have an excess cotton cloth at home, you can also cut an old white T-shirt to get the job done.

Start by Applying the Pre-Stain Conditioner on the Surface

  • Before you begin the staining process, apply a coat of pre-stain conditioner to help the wood become stain absorbent. You may need to raise the surface of the wood. To do so, put any support wood pieces or thin planks to raise the cabinet or door above the working surface.

Now wear protective latex gloves and start the pre-staining process. You’ll need the white cloth from the previous step. Let the wood cabinet soak for at least 10 minutes before you wipe the excess stain and move to the next step.

Apply the Stain

  • You’ll need a painters tape to mask off any areas where the frame meets at the inside of the wood cabinet. You really don’t have to have a very high-quality brush to apply the stain color. Most of the excess stain left here will be wiped off later.

But Encore Painting experts recommend using decent brushes to get the job done. Avoid one-time cheap brushes at all costs because they have a tendency to leave brush fibers during the process. 

Wipe any Excess Stain

  • This is a very tricky step. The thing with stain color on a wood cabinet is that the longer you let it soak, the darker the wood will become. So we recommend staining one side of the cabinet before moving to the other. 

When you have finished staining a side of the cabinet, leave it to soak for about five minutes and see if the desired shade of the stain wood color has appeared. If five minutes are not enough, wait for ten minutes. 

Wipe off the excess stain when the desired darkness, shade and color has appeared. Leave the doors and drawers for about four hours before you install the hardware back. 

Apply the Finish

Once the cabinet has dried up, you can use an applicator to apply the finish on the cabinet. Just make sure to lightly sand the surface again before you finish the DIY project. Apply about three to four coats of finish to get the best results.

Need Professional Help?

If you’re not getting the desired shade or color after you have done with the wood staining project at home, you probably did something wrong on the way. DIY wood staining is a little bit of a tricky job that sometimes may require expert help.

If you’re looking for affordable wood staining services, get in touch with Encore Painting. We have been providing wood staining and other interior painting services in Texas for more than a decade. 

People who have worked with us have been our regular customers for years. We provide free online estimates to help you make a decision.