Staining Bathroom Cabinets

When staining bathroom cabinets, you must always remember that preparation is key. If you prepare the surface of the cabinet well the stain can be applied evenly and will not result in any dark or light patches appearing when the stain dries. If the bathroom cabinet to be stained is in a prefabricated pack then staining it before assemblage is recommended.

Alternatively, if the bathroom cabinet has already been constructed or fitted in position, move it out to your workshop and take out/off any easily removable doors and shelves. If at all possible, staining all of the wooden components separately will result in a better job.

Prepare the Surface

The actual preparation you need to undertake before staining bathroom cabinet is to sand the surfaces smooth with glass paper. You could use a power sander, but be wary of applying uneven pressure, as the cabinet will probably not be a large one and will inevitably have corners and crevices to get into, you’re recommended you sand by hand, always following the grain of the timber and finish it off with a very fine grade of glass paper.

Some hard woods like oak, ash and mahogany are quite coarse grained which can create problems when trying to sand them smooth. If the cabinet is made from such a wood then you are actually advised to stain the wood first, seal it with a sanding sealer, then apply a grain filler and finally sand the surfaces smooth.

Choosing a Wood Stain

You’ll obviously need to spend a bit of time thinking what color or shade of wood stain you want to use. To some extent this might depend on the wood the cabinet is made from; light woods can take pretty well any stain but a dark wood can only be stained darker.

The most common type of wood stains these days are the environmentally friendly water based ones. Although relatively slow to dry, these are the easiest ones to apply and are therefore highly recommended for the DIY/home enthusiast who is not a wood-working expert.

Oil based stains do dry quicker, but are more difficult to apply as the speed with which they dry makes them harder to work in. Similarly you can buy spirit based wood stains; these dry incredibly quickly and are only really recommended for the professionals. Acrylic based stains enjoy some popularity, being half way between water and oil ones; they are also quite resistant to fading over time.


Because of all the corners and joints, you’ve got to work the stain into use a good quality brush for this job. Test the stain you’re going to use on a piece of timber that won’t be exposed to make sure it gives the effect you require. Then using liberal amounts of the stain apply it along the grain of the wood using an even pressure throughout.

Make sure you work the stain into all of the corners and joints being careful to work in any runs or drips that you see forming. You can apply successive coats of the stain but, be aware that it will darken the overall effect. If you think another coat is needed go back to the testing area that is out of sight and try it out there first.