Choosing a Stain for Kitchen Cabinets

If you prefer not to spend a lot of money to make a remodeling project for your kitchen, then staining your existing kitchen cabinets can make a huge different. Solid wood kitchen cabinets are usually quite valuable and will last longer than the other types of kitchen cabinets if you know how to take care of them. It is crucial to choose the color and the type of stain that you going to use, as the cabinets form a big part of your kitchen d├ęcor, for best result. Most people can work on their staining project by themselves as it does not include hard steps. You will need to determine the color hues as well as the finishes are based on your needs and style. Here are the steps on how to choose the suitable stains for your kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Cabinets


  1. First, check what type of wood are your kitchen cabinets made from. If it is made from wood, some of them are more attractive than others and it would be better for you to choose for clear stains and lighter colors.In some houses, somehow dark colors really suit the cabinets in the kitchen. If the rest of the kitchen furniture is dark then it would be nice to go for a darker look.
  2. Less costly lumber makes cheaper cabinets, but it also makes perfectly fine cabinets when they are covered with an attractive stain. It all depends on the look that you intend to give to your cabinets.
  3. You might want to let kitchen cabinets that are made from maple, cherry, mahogany or rosewood to abstain from staining process as they already look beautiful in their natural colors. You can only protect them with a clear coat of natural oil finish or a stain finishing coat of clear polyurethane sealer.
  4. You should also check for any damage, scratches and scrapes. Those cannot be sanded off, will hurt the shape or the natural wood surface such as for the sought after wood types. So the stain will help to cover the textures and the colors. If you pick a natural or a light stain, choose a colored stain that complements the wood’s natural color.
  5. Pick the stain according to the light in your kitchen. Buy a small amount of stain that you choose in the store and apply it to a prepared cabinet surface in your kitchen. It is best to take your time when making the final decision. If you are stuck with more than two choices, apply each choice on a surface with each next to each other on the same piece for comparison.
  6. Before deciding on the color, wait for the stain to dry off completely as they can change slightly after they dry. Take a look of the stain coat in different lighting areas such as from the natural sunlight from the windows and ceiling light and different times such as in the morning, noon and night.
  7. It is important to read the directions on the stain that you choose to make sure that it can work well, according to your desired finish as certain stains cannot work with polyurethane finishes. If this case happens, you can use varnish or a resin finish over those stains.
  8. Choose the stain on how much work you want to put in and your desired looks. Another consideration for the type of stain that you choose is the purpose that you want. Hardwoods do not work well with pigmented oil stains as it can be difficult to use. As the pigmented oils darken are based on the time they are left on, this will help you to determine the desired level of darkness by wiping it off. It may be difficult to achieve even colors when using oil-based stains on larger surface. The benefit of using this type of stains is that they stay clean longer and prevent dirt build-up and fingerprinting.
  9. For water-based stains, they are very easy to use and to clean up, but they tend to get dirty faster. If you use gel stains, they are also easy to use, but costly and the colors choice are limited. For hardwoods, the best stains are from the NGR or non-grain stains type as they will not bleed and fade. Varnish is easy and cheap, but not the most appealing surface coverage. Another quick and easy application is the one-step stains, but it is hard to obtain a uniform result and it may look faded in places.

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Additional Reading:

Norma Vally’s Kitchen Fix-Ups: More than 30 Projects for Every Skill Level

Can’t Fail Color Schemes–Kitchen & Bath: How to Choose Color for Stone and Tile Surfaces, Cabinets & Walls