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How to Embrace Antique Cabinets

How to Embrace Antique Cabinets

Whether you have older cabinets or simply want to create a classic, old-world appearance in your home, antiquing cabinets with stain or glaze gives a warm, inviting look to your kitchen that will last for years to come. While it can work on a range of styles, Trico Painting often stains antiqued cabinets for kitchens decorated in a rustic Tuscan, Victorian, or French style. Here are our tips for embracing antique cabinets, how to make them look their best, and what you can do to avoid getting stuck in a never-ending project.

What to Do with Antique Cabinets

How to Get or Maintain an Antiqued Look

Using natural wood staining or glaze is what produces the antique effect on painted cabinets. Strategic sanding and distressing can be added later to enhance this look. Mixing stain or paint with glaze (50% paint to 50% glaze) and a little water, along with occasionally wiping down the wood, can help you get the classic look and the beautiful finish that you want.

You'll get great results whether you choose painting or cabinet staining, but each has its own benefits and limitations, respectively. Using the stain is easier for most DIY cabinet painting projects, and it keeps the appearance closer to natural wood. But the colors are limited.

With glaze, you have an unlimited color palette, but you may not get the natural grain and appearance of the wood. Once you decide which appearance you want, it's time to plan and complete your project.

Preparing Cabinets for Antiquing

Here's what you need to do to get ready for cabinet refinishing:

  1. Remove the cabinet’s hardware.

  2. Completely clean the cabinet’s doors, drawers, and other surfaces with a damp cloth. Don't use chemical cleaners, because that could interfere with how your selected finishes dry and their resulting appearance.

  3. Lightly sand all cabinet surfaces and wipe off dust. Be sure you're wearing a protective mask and eyewear since the sanding dust can be harmful to your health.

  4. Apply primer and allow it to dry overnight.

Antiquing Cabinets: Staining or Glazing

After priming, it's time to paint or stain to get (or preserve) the appearance of antique cabinets. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • For dark base colors, apply paint first. Use a satin-sheened, oil-based paint if planning to use a wiping stain technique. Use satin latex paint when refinishing cabinets with glaze. Allow the paint to dry completely overnight to avoid a streaky look or degraded finish.

  • In addition to your chosen stain, you need: a natural sponge, two paintbrushes, paper towels, and some clean white rags.

To apply:

  1. Mix stain or glaze thoroughly and place it in a flat pan.

  2. To apply stain with rags: Hold the rag firmly but comfortably, dip in paint or stain, and apply to the cabinet. Let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a second (clean) rag until you have the color or finish you want. The longer the stain is left on before wiping, the darker it will likely appear.

  3. To apply glaze, follow this process, but be sure the glaze is immediately wiped off after application.

  4. Test your color and technique somewhere on the inside of a cabinet, so you're confident in the appearance before committing to staining or glazing an entire door.

Sealing Antiqued Kitchen Cabinets

Sealing is important to protect your cabinets and their newly applied finishes. Apply a clear coat wood finish to the entire cabinet surface. We recommend two coats with light sanding in between each, allowing for ample drying time. Be sure to match your clear coat finish with the type of paint, stain, or glaze you used (oil-based with oil-based and water-based with water-based).

Feel Stuck when Staining? Call Trico Painting

Kitchen cabinet repainting, staining, and refinishing is a cost-effective alternative to replacing your cabinets or overhauling them with new construction. But it's not any more efficient if you get stuck in a cycle of removing, repainting, and restaining cabinets until you get the look that you want.

Save yourself these headaches with a call to Trico Painting, the Roseville, CA kitchen cabinet painting company with a reputation for excellence. We're experienced in working with antique wood, creating an antique finish, or matching new stain applications to beautiful natural wood.


There's no need to sacrifice your dream kitchen; we can help get the exact look you want for your cabinets, including old-world charm with modern durability. Ready to get started? Contact Trico Painting for your cabinet painting or staining estimate today.