How to Finish Stock Kitchen Cabinets

If you are building a new kitchen or remodeling an old one, you may need some ideas on how to finish stock cabinets. Using stock cabinets can save you money on your project. Finishing them can take a bit of time, but the savings are worth it.

Step 1: Finishing and Trimming cabinets

If your cabinets already have a finish on them but are very plain, then you may want to dress them up a bit by applying drawer pulls, cabinet handles, plate rails and decorative moldings. The most commonly used wood in kitchens these days is oak. On oak knobs and cabinet handles in black, stainless steel or white is a popular choice among designers. Of course this is all a matter of taste so don't be afraid to experiment. Installing them is very easy, all you need is a drill and screwdriver. The instructions and template are on the package.

If installing a plate rail around the top, if you don't have a bulkhead, you will want to match your cabinets, or perhaps paint the rail in a color used in your kitchen for a decorative effect. For molding, think in the terms of placing an empty picture frame in the center of your cabinet door. You will need a miter box, decorative molding, a nail gun and a bit of carpentry skill to do this.

Step 2: Finishing unfinished cabinets

Unfinished stock cabinets are usually the best buy when you are upgrading your kitchen. Most commonly, they are made of very hard wood and may actually be more sturdy than the finished, custom styles.

If you want to stain your cupboards you can test various stain colors to get what you want on the back side of them that will be against the wall when installed. Use at least two coats to get the true color. Sand your cabinets with a very fine grit sand paper,  such as 150 to get them satin smooth and rid of bumps, splinters and imperfections. This also opens up the wood so the stain can penetrate. Wipe away all sawdust with a tack cloth.

Use a brush designed for stain and apply the stain all in the same direction with the grain of the wood. Cover the entire area and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wipe away gently with a soft, dust free cloth. Continue this until all the surfaces are finished. If you want a darker shade, wait 24 hours and re-apply. Then let the cupboards sit and dry for a couple of days.

Step 3: Applying Varnish

After your cupboards are completely dry, rub lightly with steel wool and wipe with a tack cloth. Then apply at least two coats of varnish using the manufacturers instructions on the can. Apply with the grain of the wood, always in the same direction. Do not shake the can of varnish before applying because it will create bubbles in your finish. Be sure to always stir varnish.

Step 4: Finishing

After the project is dry, you can install knobs or handles per the above instructions for a more finished look. While this project will take you several days to complete, the savings will be well worth the effort.