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The Most Long-Lasting Cabinet Stain Ideas

The Most Long-Lasting Cabinet Stain Ideas

Cabinet staining brings deep, rich color to kitchen cabinets while protecting them from premature wear and tear. If you want a new look or new color, restaining cabinets is an effective way to change the look and color of cabinets. Trico Painting has some tips on how to get the most out of your kitchen cabinet staining, so it stands the test of time.

Cabinet Staining Project and Surface Preparation

Without prepping cabinet surfaces, your stain will degrade prematurely. Here’s how to prep for success when getting ready to stain or restrain cabinets.

  1. Wear Protective Gear and Protect Surrounding Surfaces: Safety goggles, protective masks, and gloves are always a good idea to protect you from fumes. You’ll also want to put down drop cloths to keep surrounding surfaces free from errant stain and primers.

  2. Remove Hardware and Take Cabinets off Hinges: This makes cabinet refinishing easier because you’ll be able to apply any sanding, primers, and cabinet stain evenly.

  3. Clean Cabinet Surfaces: Denatured alcohol mixed with water (50/50 mix) on fine-grit sanding sponges can remove oils, grime, and old finishes.

Make sure all surfaces you’ve cleaned dry for at least 30 minutes. If not, the stain won’t adhere properly.

Prepping and Applying Cabinet Stain

Every stain has unique instructions for application. In general, here are some best practices for getting stain ready and applying it to cabinets.

  • Stir Stain: Stir cabinet stain thoroughly, so the color doesn’t settle and looks “true” after applied.

  • Choose the Right Brush: Foam brushes work well when applying kitchen cabinet stain. Use different size brushes depending on the details and size of the surfaces you’re painting. There are also brushes specifically for oil-based stains, So double-check which brushes are recommended for your preferred stain.

  • Apply Stain Generously: Use enough to cover the area, but avoid drips and runs.

  • Wipe Excess Stain Off Quickly: Stains dry quickly, so start wiping off stain to get the finish you want within a few minutes of applying. Use a lint-free cloth and go with the grain for a natural wood staining appearance and a seamless finish.

  • Dry Between Layers: You’ll need to apply multiple layers of stain, so it’s good to wait 24 hours for each layer to dry so you can see how it looks before going back to reapply more cabinet staining. 2 layers will affect a light color change, and 3 layers will give you a dramatic color change. Dry them inside, or in a temperature-regulated garage or workshop so stain dries evenly and completely.

Top Coats for Cabinet Staining

You’ll need a top coat for gel stains and oil-based stains. Make sure you get a cabinet top coat that matches the base cabinet stain.

As with the stain, it’s critical that you stir your top coat thoroughly with a paint stick. Then, use a fresh foam brush to apply the top coat evenly over the stain. Top coats need to dry for between 12 and 24 hours.

Common Problems with DIY Cabinet Staining

Kitchen cabinet staining is one of those interior painting projects that has simple steps, but those steps need to be followed precisely to avoid having to repaint or restain prematurely. The most common mishaps we see are:

  • Not choosing the best fit stain for the surface

  • Not applying stain evenly

  • Not letting stain or top coat dry completely

  • Not caulking seams

  • Using the wrong brushes for applying or the wrong cloths for wiping

It’s important to test a small surface to see how stains and top coats will look before diving in with both feet. It is much easier to correct a small mistake you’ve observed on a test surface than to immediately have to restart after staining entire drawers or cabinets.

Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painting and Staining by Trico Painting

You don’t have to deal with the stress of DIY cabinet staining if you want to get a beautiful, durable, rich natural wood finish the first time. Trico Painting is the trusted choice for Roseville, CA cabinet staining projects of any scope and size.


We’ll help you pick the perfect stain and top coat for your bathroom, storage, or kitchen cabinets so you can take pride in every room in your home. Ready to get started? Contact Trico Painting for your cabinet painting or staining estimate today!