How to Stain a Home Bar Cabinet

What You'll Need
Fine grit sandpaper
Latex gloves
Clean paintbrush
Clean soft, white rags

Staining a home bar cabinet is no different than any other cabinet. You have to decide the type of stain will produce the color you desire, though you have a choice of a number of finishes. The most professional finish is sprayed on, but many do-it-yourselfers do not have the facilities at their disposal. Finishes can be rubbed and painted on as well. In addition, there are numerous types of finishes including varnishes, oils, polishes, urethanes and glazes. It is necessary to protect a stained cabinet with one of these products to ensure no corrosion and long life. 

Step 1: Smooth Down the Cabinet

After the cabinet is built and ready for staining, go over the entire structure with a new piece of fine grit sandpaper. This once-over will let you remove any last rough spots or other marks. Once you stain and finish the cabinet you cannot sand out any blemishes without restaining, so it’s important to do this before you begin. 

Step 2: Follow the Directions

There is a basic procedure for applying stain to wood, but since there are many types of stains, you should read the directions carefully. In this way you will understand the effect of putting on more than one coat, how best to apply it and how to achieve the color you desire. 

Step 3: Staining

Before you begin staining the wood, put on disposable latex gloves. Although the directions may differ from brand to brand, what is the same for all of them is that you don’t want any streaks. Whether you apply the stain with a brush or with a rag, any and all lines need to be rubbed out. Start by dipping the brush into the stain and brushing it on. Try to cover a face of wood. Then go over every bit of it with the clean rag and rub the stain into the wood. Be sure to paint and rub with the grain. Small circular motions are alright provided they do not leave streaks. 

Step 4: Stain Each Piece

Any doors or removable shelves should be taken off and stained separately. Apply an even layer of stain over the entire cabinet including the removable pieces. Again, your goal is leave no visible trace of application. It should look as natural as possible, as though the color of the stain were the original color of the wood. 

Step 5: Finish

After the stained wood has completely dried and cured for several days at least, you can apply the finish. If you have the means to apply a spray-on finish, that is the method that is the most professional and least noticeable. However, there are numerous types of finish. Some, like GF Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat are designed to be wiped on with a cloth. Like the stain, you should leave no drips or runs from the finish. If wiped or brushed on, it needs to be smoothly and evenly applied. In this way it will protect the stained wood while going largely unnoticed. 

After the stain and the finish have been applied to your satisfaction, reattach the doors and insert the shelves. The cabinets can now be hung in position and turn your bar into a practical and aesthetic gem.