Kitchen Cabinets: Staining Options

Deciding to stain your kitchen cabinets immediately leads to the next choice: What kind of stain to use. There is no shortage of types of stains to choose from, each of which will bring out the natural look of the wood and enhance its appearance. What separates one stain from another is its base (oil/alcohol), its degree of opaquity/transparency and the difficulty of application.

Types of Stains and Their Attributes:

  • Alcohol-base stains dry faster than other types of wood stains.
  • Opaque stains come in a variety of colors and are used for a more decorative finish.
  • Pigment-type stains use a powder solution that is easy to apply.
  • Protective wood stains contain an element of lacquer, or polyurethane finish.
  • Semitransparent stains are lighter in tone.
  • Transparent stains are the lightest stain variety.
  • Water-base stains penetrate wood deeply and reduce streaks and blotches.
  • Wax-base stains are similar to wax-base and leave a glossy finish.
  • Oil-base stains are similar to alcohol-based stains and relatively quick.

Step 1: Understand the Staining Choices

The stain choices you make will determine the look that you will achieve for your wood.
Step 2: Determine the Desired Finish

Based on the types of stains, you should make a determination on the type of finish best fits your project. A decorative project calls for an opaque stain while a need for fast drying dictates the use of alcohol and oil-based stains. A home improvement center representative can assist you in choosing the correct finish type.

Step 3: Sample Different Stains

Request samples or purchase smaller size containers of different types of stains. Take the samples home and apply them to a scrap piece of wood that is similar to the wood that you will be staining. This will give you an opportunity to compare the finishes and determine the best stain.

Step 4: Choose the Best Stain

Based on the samples test, choose the stain that gives you the best coverage relative to your project and the look that you are seeking to achieve. Once that selection has been made, purchase an adequate amount based on your staining needs for the staining project.

First, sand and clean all surfaces that are going to be stained. This helps the stain adhere better to the wood and provides you a with a clean surface to work with.

Step 5: Apply a Stain and Varnish Coat

Apply the stain as instructed, using a rag to work the stain into the wood, going with the grain. As the first coat of stain dries, apply a second coat. Seal the stain with a polyurethane sealer and allow the cabinets to dry before installing and doors or hardware. Allow the stain and polyurethane coat to dry completely before reattaching the hardware.