How to Refinish Maple Kitchen Cabinets


Maple cabinets are an excellent choice for the kitchen. They have a natural beauty and look outstanding for many years. They are relatively low maintenance and hold up well to normal wear and tear. Sometimes, however, they do need to be refinished, particularly if you live in a very humid environment or have small children who play in them.

Things You'll Need

  • One Philip's head screwdriver
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • 120-grit Sandpaper
  • Damp cloth
  • One two-inch foam paintbrush.
  • One quart can stain (More if you are doing multiple cabinets)
  • One quart of clear polyurethane (More if you are doing multiple cabinets)

Staining Maple Cabinets

  • Remove the hardware from the cabinet or cabinets with the screwdriver. This includes the hinges and door handle or handles. Set aside the door. Remove all of the shelves from inside the cabinet. Set them aside so they can be worked on later (Reference 1)

  • Sand the outside of the cabinet or cabinets and the doors with the 80-grit sandpaper. Use small circular motions to remove all of the old varnish or stain. Do not use a belt sander because you have very little control. Sand the door and the inside of the cabinet. Repeat the process with the 120-grit sandpaper. This will reduce the roughness left by the 80-grit and give a nice smooth appearance as well as a surface for the stain to adhere to. (Reference 1)

  • Wipe the cabinet with the damp cloth or sponge to remove all of the left over dust. This is important because the dust will actually leave bumps in the surface of the stain. Do the same for the door, shelves and the inside of the cabinet, then let them dry completely. (Reference 1)

  • Stain the front of the doors and then the inside of the cabinets. After you stain the door, place it with the stained side up to dry. Stain the outside of the cabinet. Stain the top side of the shelves and the edge that will face out into the opening where the door will go. (Reference 2)

  • Stain the backside of the cabinet door. Allow it to dry with the newly stained side up. Apply polyurethane to the inside of the cabinet and the shelves. This will help maintain the luster of the stain and will also protect it from scratches.Then apply the polyurethane to the outside of the cabinet. Let the polyurethane dry for at least four hours before you apply a second coat, if needed. (Reference 2)

  • Apply the polyurethane to the door and allow it to dry overnight. When the door is completely dry, you can reatach all of the neccesary hardware. When you have the hinges and handles on the doors, hang the doors back on the cabinets. (reference 3)

Related Searches


  • The Complete Cabinetmaker's Reference (Popular Woodworking), Jeff Piontkowski, 1997
  • The Complete Illustrated Guide to Furniture and Cabinet Construction, Andy Rae, 2001
  • Danny Proulx's Cabinet Doors and Drawers (Popular Woodworking), Danny Proulx, 2005
  • Photo Credit schranktür image by Ewe Degiampietro from
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