How to Stain Pickled Maple Cabinets

By Carson Barrett

Pickled maple cabinets are created by applying a thin coat of oil-based paint onto the cabinets and wiping it off before the paint completely dries. This prevents the paint from fully seeping into the grain, creating a whitewashed appearance on the cabinets. If you want your pickled cabinets to have a darker, more natural appearance, remove the paint and stain them. Maple is a dense wood that doesn't easily absorb stain, so using light to medium stains works best on it.

List of Items Needed

  • Screwdriver
  • Mineral spirits
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Clean, dry rags
  • Gloves
  • Paint-stripping agent
  • Putty knife
  • Oscillating tool with 120- and 240-grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Wood stain
  • Safety goggles
  • Respirator mask
  1. Remove the doors and drawers from the cabinets and unscrew the hardware, such as the hinges and handles.

  2. Clean the surface of the wood with mineral spirits or trisodium phosphate (TSP). Apply the cleanser to a clean, dry rag, and wipe the wood down two or three times with the cleanser. Allow the wood to dry.

  3. Apply a chemical paint-stripping agent to the wood and allow it to set for the time specified on the packaging. Scrape the paint off of the wood with a putty knife.

  4. Sand any remaining paint off with an oscillating tool using 120-grit sand paper. Apply the oscillating tool again with 240-grit sand paper to smooth the wood surface.

  5. Wipe the dust off of the wood with a dry cloth.

  6. Apply the desired stain to the wood with a paintbrush. Use long, even, smooth strokes, working in the direction of the grain. Apply the stain in the smaller, more detailed areas of the wood before staining the larger, flatter surfaces. Wipe away any excess stain with a clean rag, and allow it to dry for the time specified on the packaging.

  7. Apply a second coat of stain to the wood if you want to make it darker.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear gloves if using trisodium phosphate to clean the wood.
  • Wear goggles and a respirator mask when sanding with the oscillating tool.

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