Staining Painted Cabinets

So, you have painted kitchen cabinets, and you’ve decided that you’d like to see something new. Perhaps you’re sick of the color, they look faded and dated, or maybe you just need a little change. Either way, if you’re hoping to get back to nature and are thinking about staining painted cabinets, you’re going to have a somewhat lengthy refinishing process ahead of you.

You simply cannot stain over painted cabinets, unless you like the look of uneven, dripping, murky stain over color. Instead, you’re going to need to make this a double-weekend project, and spend the first weekend stripping paint. Yes, it sounds tedious and awful, and it is. However, you can grin and bear it to make it through to your second weekend of work, where you actually get to stain the cabinets – and just imagine how great they’ll look when it’s all finished.

Stripping Your Cabinets

Working only in a very well ventilated area, use a gel or semi-paste stripper on your cabinets. The whole process is going to be messy and awkward to begin with, so you’re going to want to use a stripper that won’t run or drip quite as much on the vertical surface. Before purchasing the right stripper however, you’ll need to determine what kind of paint you have on your cabinets.

Using a rag with some rubbing alcohol, rub the rag on the surface of a cabinet. It the paint starts to rub off, or you can feel it getting softer, your cabinets were painted with a latex paint. Oil paint isn’t affected by the alcohol, so now you can buy some stripper and wait for it to do its job. Once your cabinets are stripped, patch up any nicks or hole on the cabinets with wood fillers, and sand it to create a smooth texture once dried. Sand all your cabinets very lightly, and then prime them before you start painting.

Staining Your Cabinets

Now that the paint is gone, the cabinet stain can do its work. Presumably, all the cabinet hardware was removed back when you stripped the paint, so now all you need to do to start is make sure the area is completely clean of dust, and then start to apply a conditioner to your cabinets.

Read the instructions first though, to be sure that you’re able to apply the stain onto the cabinet within the specified timeframe. This may require you to only do a few cabinets at a time, as most conditioners only stay active for around 45 minutes.

The conditioner will actually act as a sealer to help the stain go onto your cabinets smoothly and evenly, so it’s very important to ensure you follow the directions. Once this has dried, you can begin applying the stain. Move your brush in a circle-motion to help the stain penetrate deep into the grains of the wood, and for a final coat, move your brush vertically to even out the finish.

Once you’ve stained the cabinets and they’ve dried, you’ll need to apply a finish in order to protect the wood. The stain is your color, but it won’t do a thing to protect the longevity of your cabinets. If the stain you used was oil-based, this means you must use an oil-based polyurethane as finish. Finally, always apply two coats of finish, just to be on the safe side.

See Also: Adding Moulding to Cabinet Doors
Paint Brushes