How to Stain Kitchen Cabinets Darker

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You can stain your kitchen darker.
Image Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/GettyImages

If you're looking to spruce up your kitchen but are on a tight budget, switching up your cabinets could be a great way to go. Adding a deeper shade to your kitchen cabinets can give a whole new lease on life to tired older cabinets and make a kitchen feel almost like new again. What's even better is that this can be done at home and makes for a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive do-it-yourself project.

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Why Stain Your Kitchen Cabinets?

Light-colored kitchen cabinets can be prone to looking more worn or dull with age. A darker stain can help cover up some older wear and tear and give the cabinets a fresher, newer look. But even if your cabinets aren't older and more worn looking, introducing a darker stain to the cabinet doors could be a tempting choice. It can offer a brand new look to your kitchen overall without having to consider replacing your cabinets or going for a more expensive kitchen refit. Darker wooden cabinet doors have a chic, antique and even slightly gothic look that many find visually appealing.

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Preparing Kitchen Cabinets for Staining

The first step in applying stain to kitchen cabinet doors is the preparation. Ensuring you've properly prepped and primed your cabinets is essential to ensure you're happy with the stain application and finish.

You should first thoroughly wash your cabinets using dish soap and water. Kitchen cabinets can become dirty and greasy thanks to their proximity to your oven and stove, and any oils left on the surfaces can prevent the stain from adhering properly.

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It's also likely you'll need to remove any old finish from your cabinets to achieve an even stain. True Value Paint recommends using sandpaper to lightly scrub the surface of your cabinet doors. You should always go with the grain of the wood to keep the surface even, as any circular motions could create unevenness in the adherence of your stain. You can also use a chemical stripper, although these may be harsh and can cause damage to the wood and should be used with caution.

How to Stain Cabinets Darker

For safety, you'll need to wear a mask and gloves, plus open any windows to ensure the room is well-ventilated. Goggles may also be necessary if you have sensitive eyes.

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Open your can of wood stain and stir with a stick to make sure it's evenly mixed. If you're not totally sure of how the color is going to turn out, Cabinet Doors recommends applying a patch of stain at the back of your cabinet to see how it looks. That way, if you don't like the shade, it's not on display.

Once you're sure you'll be happy with the color, you can apply your stain. Apply with a soft cloth rather than a brush to achieve an even and streak-free finish. Allow your stain to dry and check it's as dark as you'd like. If it isn't, you can repeat the process for a second layer. Once you are happy with the color, make sure you finish by applying a layer of a polyurethane finish. This will seal in the color, protect your cabinets and add a shiny varnished look.

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Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Daily Telegraph, Professional Photography Magazine, Bustle, Ravishly and more. When not writing, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries.