How to Refresh Stained Wood Cabinets

By Carson Barrett

Over time, the stain on your wood cabinets can fade, especially if they are exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time. If you can't afford to purchase new cabinets, or like the ones you have, you can put in some work to refresh their appearance. This can give your cabinets a new look while saving you money.

List of Items Needed

  • Fans
  • Drop cloths
  • Screwdriver
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Mineral oil
  • Soft, clean rag
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Handheld sanding tool equipped with fine-grit sanding disk
  • Touch-up pen
  • Stain
  • Paint brush
  • Foam brush
  1. Set up the work area. If possible, move the cabinets to a well-ventilated area, such as your garage. If the cabinets are attached to the wall, like in your kitchen, open all windows and use fans to keep fresh air flowing through the area in which you're working. Cover the ground underneath the cabinets with drop cloths.

  2. Unscrew the hardware such as doorknobs, hinges and handles, from the cabinets and doors.

  3. Wipe down the wood of the cabinets and doors with trisodium phosphate solution (TSP) or mineral spirits. Place the cleansing agent on a soft, clean rag, and wipe the wood down two or three times. Allow the wood to dry.

  4. Lightly sand the wood with 220-grit sandpaper or a handheld sanding tool equipped with a fine-grit sanding disk. Sand in the direction of the grain. Wipe off the wood with a dry cloth to remove the dust.

  5. Inspect the wood for nicks or other areas where the bare wood is exposed. Cover these areas with a touch-up pen that is the same color as the rest of the wood. Use a rag to wipe away excess ink and blend it in with the wood.

  6. Begin applying the stain to the wood. Start in smaller, more intricate areas before moving on to larger, flatter areas. Use smooth, even strokes with a paintbrush or foam brush, working with the grain. Allow the stain to dry for the time specified on the packaging.

  7. Apply a second coat of stain to darken the cabinets, if desired.

  8. Install the hardware back onto the cabinets and reattach the doors. You can further overhaul the cabinets' appearance by installing new hardware instead of re-using the old hardware.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves and eye protection if using TSP to clean the cabinets because it is a harsh chemical.
  • Wear a respirator or dust mask if handling TSP in its powder form. Inhalation can cause respiratory irritation.

© Demand Media 2011