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How to Stain Oak Cabinetry (Tutorial)

 Did you know that if you order cabinets from a cabinet company in a specific finish, they will often provide the EXACT SAME STAIN they used so that you can match your existing cabinetry or fill pieces etc?
This is what I did to match my current cabinets I couldn't afford to replace in my bathroom renovation, to the new corner cabinet I had custom ordered.

Therefore I wanted to share a quick tutorial on how I stained my bathroom cabinets.  I have seen a lot of people on Pinterest claim you can't stain cabinets with anything other than certain brands of stain, or with gel stain or some other version.. and that isn't really true.  I am sure those other techniques work too, but I didn't have the option of using any other stain for this project.  

Don't be afraid to give it a shot using regular old liquid wood stain.. it will work JUST FINE. (I used regular wood stain on my stair bannisters and it has held up wonderfully for a for more than a year. I wouldn't even try to do handrails with gel stain!)

The technique I used to stain these cabinets (with the house-brand of stain from Thomasville) is the same way I did the kitchen island and the stair bannisters.

First up, remove the doors and sand them.  You want to get the finish off and then do a final sanding with a pretty high grit (200) sandpaper for a nice finish.  This process is SO EASY even a 3 year old can do it.  She was cracking up at how the palm sander vibrated her arms:

Then you want to wipe down the cabinet to get all the dust off.  Once again (just like when I paint cabinets) I used my trusty Lysol/Clorox wipes.  I don't use TSP or anything else.. just regular old disinfecting wipes. 

 It usually takes 1 wipe/cabinet, and again.. a 3 year old can do it:

Don't forget to sand the boxes as well:

I then applied the stain.  You can use a foam brush, regular brush or cloth.  I like to use a regular brush myself, but that is just personal opinion.  Brush strokes don't matter so I use a cheapy dollar store one so I don't have to deal with washing it.  (This wood stain was oil based so I would have to use mineral spirits for clean up.)

Wipe off any excess with a soft cloth (follow the specific instructions on your brand of stain.  Mine said to wait 2 minutes before wiping it down).  You don't want the surface overly saturated or it won't dry. I only needed one coat with this type/color of stain.  It was really really dark. 

You can see the wood grain still shows through.  This is a personal taste thing.  I don't mind it.  Especially with the really dark color it isn't really in your face.

If you need the color darker you may have to repeat a couple coats of stain.  Once you get the look you like, you can apply a coat or two of polyurethane to protect the finish.  I like to reassemble the cabinets before the poly step so that I can leave the doors/drawers ajar to dry both sides at the same time. I also set up a fan in the bathroom to circulate the air while the poly dries:

The last step is to add hardware (you could pre-drill the holes before staining the cabinets if you prefer, but I like to put the hardware on the cabinets once they are reassembled):

And there you have it.  The stain was about $40.  I had the polyurathane, sandpaper and hardware already, but if you were doing this project from scratch the entire cost would still be under $75.

That is a lot of bang for your buck.

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