Unfinished Pine Kitchen Cabinets

Unfinished pine kitchen cabinets can be purchased from home centers, lumber centers, or your local custom cabinet shop.

Here are 3 things you can do to finish those unfinished pine kitchen cabinets:

#1 - UNFINISHED PINE KITCHEN CABINETS - Put a clear coat (clear finish) on

Applying a clear finish to unfinished pine kitchen cabinets is the easiest way to finish your cabinets, and beautiful.  The kitchen at right is knotty pine, clear coated.

Pine, more so than other woods, darkens as it ages.  If you clear-coat your unfinished pine kitchen cabinets, within a few years they will be a mellow, warm-yellow/orange color.

Don't worry if you have oak trim and pine cabinets (or vice versa).  If you clear coat them both (meaning you don't stain them, don't use a water-based finish, and only put on a clear finish), in a few years they will virtually be the same color - no kidding!!


This one's going to be a bit harder.  Applying stain to pine is tricky.  Pine gets blotchy and streaks.  Parts of pine are harder than others, and sapwood also affects color.  The photo at right is a knotty pine kitchen we stained Minwax Provincial (always wiping the stain on by hand).  We then finished with Sherwin-Williams Moisture Resistant Lacquer, Medium Rub Effect (sprayed on) .  The end cabinet is a bit unusual.  It is an corner upper with an appliance garage underneath.  The cabinet has three upper doors.  Two are clear glass, while the one facing the interior of the kitchen is solid.  The door on the appliance garage is a roll-up tambor.

You need to apply a wood conditioner before you stain unfinished pine kitchen cabinets.

In our custom cabinet shop, we used Minwax's Wood Conditioner and it worked well.  You can also ask your stain and finish supplier what they recommend.

First Step in Staining Pine: Sand your pine (it will probably have some real scratches or scuffs in it because pine is so soft and dings so easily).

Second Step:  Apply the wood conditioner using a cotton cloth, carpet remnant, or foam brush.  Let it sit on the wood for 10 minutes (or go according to manufacturer's directions), and wipe off with a cotton rag.  (Old cotton t-shirts, socks, undies, etc., work well for this.)

Third Step:  Apply your stain.  You will need to experiment with how long you want the stain to remain on the piece before you wipe it off with a cotton rag.  You will need to let it sit longer than if you were to apply stain to say, oak without a wood conditioner.

This is because the wood conditioner is blocking the stain from fully penetrating the wood.  You want this, so your color will be more uniform, but you will need to let the stain sit on your pieces longer.  It will vary, and you do need to experiment on a scrap piece or two, before you finish your unfinished pine kitchen cabinets.

Fourth Step:  Wipe your stain off well.  Keep in mind that you're piece will NOT be a completely uniform color.  Stain seeps into parts of pine more than others.  Sealer helps, but it is NOT perfect.  You will still have some extreme lights and darks, but they will not be AS EXTREME if you wouldn't have used any wood conditioner at all.

Final Steps:  Let your stained pieces dry thoroughly, then apply the finish of your choice.  (See our Kitchen Cabinet Finishes page and the related links of Polyurethane, Lacquer, and How to Varnish Wood.)

For more in-depth info on how to stain, click here to link to our How to Stain Kitchen Cabinets page from this Unfinished Pine Kitchen Cabinets page.

The photo at right is a bath vanity stained Minwax Provincial.


You can always paint unfinished pine kitchen cabinets.  Be sure you want a painted kitchen because paint is hard to get out once it's put on wood.  It can look beautiful, and is economical.

Check out our pages Repaint Kitchen Cabinets and Unfinished Wood Kitchen Cabinets for information and how-to's.


Pine is a soft wood.  It will scuff, dent, and scratch easily, even after it's finished.  If you have small children, it might not be a good wood for kitchen cabinets.  If you like the look of knotty pine consider purchasing rustic (knotty) oak instead.  It will take a lot more use and abuse.  The photo at right is of a knotty oak bath vanity.

If you love the look of knotty pine, but you have small children and don't want it for cabinets:  put knotty pine on your ceiling, and use rustic (knotty) oak for the cabinets.

That's what's pictured at right.  A knotty pine ceiling above oak kitchen cabinets.  See how dark the pine has become?  It now matches the oak perfectly (it took about two or three years).  To do this, don't use water-based finish and no stain.  Just clear coat your wood.  This house was built new in 2000.

You can trim out the house with pine casing too.  This is a money saver.  Pine casing and interior doors are less expensive than oak.   Don't use a water-based finish, and no stain (in other words, you clear-coat your wood).

Return to our Kitchen Cabinet Idea page from this Unfinished Pine Kitchen Cabinets page.

And remember - Have a Happy Kitchen!!!

Related Pages:

How to Stain Kitchen Cabinets - 6 Easy Steps & 13 things you must have before you start.

Kitchen Cabinet Idea - You can't afford to miss this (if you want to save money) - 20 Savvy things to consider BEFORE you buy.

Unfinished Wood Kitchen Cabinets - Put $$ back into your wallet (or purse).

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