How to Stain Cabinets That Have Been Painted


For a long time the majority of cabinets seen in design magazines were painted. Recently stained cabinets have been making a big comeback. Do you have cabinets that have been previously painted that you would prefer stained? Removing old paint and applying stain isn't an impossible task. The job is very doable for the weekend warrior; just be prepared to use a lot of elbow grease.

Things You'll Need

  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Chemical paint remover
  • Paint brush
  • Scraper
  • Wire brush
  • Steel wool
  • Fine-grit sand paper
  • Rags
  • Stain
  • Sand the surface of the cabinet with medium-grit sandpaper. You are not necessarily trying to remove the paint. Focus on scratching the surface of the paint so the chemical paint remover will be able to sink into the paint to do its job.

  • Spread chemical paint remover over the surface of the painted cabinet. Chemical paint remover comes in liquid or paste. Paste will drip less and is better for hanging cabinets because it will reduce the mess from drips. Use a brush to apply the solution in one direction. Let the solvent sit on the paint per the manufacturer's instructions, usually 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Gently scrape off paint with a scraper. Remove as much paint as you can with the scraper. Follow with steel wool to remove more paint.

  • Use a wire brush to remove paint in crevices and corners. These areas may require you to apply paint remover directly to the wire brush. Rub the solvent into the creases in a circular motion.

  • Repeat the chemicals and scraping until the majority of the paint has been removed. Remove any remaining paint with fine-grit sandpaper. Sand gently to avoid damaging the surface of the cabinets.

  • Wipe dust and chemicals from the cabinets using equal parts vinegar and water. Allow cabinets to dry completely.

  • Apply stain using a brush or rag. Use a thin, even layer of stain. Multiple thin coats will produce better results than one thick coat of stain. Allow stain to dry completely between coats.

Tips & Warnings

  • Scraping paint can be very messy. Cover all surfaces with tarps to prevent damage to flooring and furniture.

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