Staining Kitchen Cabinets Made Easy


Staining kitchen cabinets is one of the most thankless jobs that there is, but don't fret - we're here to help you find the best and easiest way to stain. 

My husband and I owned our own retail cabinet shop for 15 years. Having over 30 years of combined experience staining, we can tell you first and foremost, if you can find help, take advantage of it, especially for the beginner.


You can quickly link from this Staining Kitchen Cabinets page to How-to Stain Kitchen Cabinet page, which will give you step-by-step instructions on how-to stain kitchen cabinets.


Staining kitchen cabinets, or staining anything for that matter, will take some time. For example, let's say you are building your home and have an entire house full of trim work, doors, cabinetry, and windows to stain; or maybe you are replacing every stick of wood in the house with new. It could potentially take you weeks just to stain it, not to mention putting finish on the wood.


Once you are lucky enough to find the help you need to stain kitchen cabinets, please remember everyone stains just a bit differently. Your end results may look slightly different than your helpers, but that's okay. The key to ensuring your finished product looks great is for everyone staining kitchen cabinets to use the same material and techniques.

Here is one of the most important points we can make -- YOU ARE WORKING WITH WOOD!!! If you are consistent in your staining technique and use a good stain, you will get wood that looks similar to each and every other piece, and similar results are good. Don't expect perfection, it cannot be achieved with real wood.


Even if you stain every piece yourself, it will not look the same. Some pieces of wood before being stained, will start out looking almost white, while other pieces of wood in the same species will look almost black. This contrast is not an over exaggeration, especially if you are staining the soft woods such as pine or fir. Even maple, if stained, looks blotchy.

The photo above is of some knotty pine kitchen cabinets we built and installed.  The customer wanted the wood stained.  Even using wood conditioner, notice the variation in color throughout the kitchen.  It all blends well, but there are color differences when you are staining kitchen cabinets.

Don't worry, there are techniques that we will discuss and trade secrets that we will share to minimize this look of blotchiness, unless of course, you are the rebel and want that blotchiness to show through, expressing your unique and creative style.

Again, you can quickly link from this page about staining kitchen cabinets to a simple how-to page that will give you step-by-step instructions on how to stain kitchen cabinets.

Real World Experience:

In our cabinet shop, we once stained an entire house-full of trim, doors, stair railing, windows, etc., including staining kitchen cabinets for a couple who did not have any experience with wood. The entire house was oak, except for the windows which were pine and which were the only items we stained on the job site.

The homeowner called us up, very upset.

The contractor had brought up a load of the oak we had stained, and they were deliriously mad that 1) it was not the exact color of the pine windows and were certain that we had used two different stain colors on their wood and 2) each oak piece contained light and dark variations of the stain they liked.

We calmed them down, assuring them that we had indeed used the correct stain on everything. After meeting with them again, talking some more, having the contractor talk to them, they still were not very happy, until . . . the contractor put the trim on the windows and throughout the house. The very same day, we received a call of apology. They just loved it and couldn't believe how spectacular it looked (and it did).

Separately, each piece looked slightly different. Together, it looked beautiful. Why? Because we used good stain and the same techniques to stain.


What if you desire each door, each drawer front, and each frame piece to look like the others? Is it completely a lost cause? No, but you need to look at some other options. You will need to purchase laminate cabinets, or, if you are talented and have the tools, you can laminate your own cabinets. Laminating isn't just for countertops, and comes in a wide variety of colors, textures, styles, and several wood grains too. Throughout Europe laminate cabinets are used in homes, a trend that has made much headway in the U.S.

So, whether you are a novice at staining kitchen cabinets, or have some experience, the following pages will be beneficial. If you are an expert in your field and feel comfortable with your technique, stay with it. You might not find too much help in the following pages, then again, you may find some things you haven't considered and may deem useful in staining your kitchen cabinets.


How to Stain Kitchen Cabinets
A how-to guide, simple enough for the beginner, with some info helpful for the pro.

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