How to Stain Pickled Cabinets

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The process of pickling wood cabinets involves applying a white stain or whitewash, which gives it a white surface while still retaining the appearance of the wood grain. If you have pickled cabinets you would like to stain a darker shade, it can be done; however, don't simply brush stain over the pickled surface. Staining such cabinets takes more than one day, so set aside at least a full weekend. Always wear rubber gloves and protective eyewear when working with strippers and stains.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective eyewear
  • Rubber gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • Dropcloth
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint stripper
  • Metal scraper
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Wood stain
  • Remove the doors from the cabinet box. For most cabinets, you will remove the screws from the hinges with a screwdriver. If your cabinet doors have handles, remove them as well. Set the hardware and handles aside. Take the doors outside and lay on a dropcloth.

  • Clean the doors and the cabinet box with all-purpose cleaner to remove all dirt, oils and buildup. Wipe the components down with a microfiber cloth.

  • Pour paint stripper into a metal can. Pour stripper from the can onto one of the doors. Using a clean paintbrush, cover the surface with a thick coat. Repeat with the other doors. Brush stripper in a thick coat over the cabinet box.

  • Wait 10 to 15 minutes. When the pickled stain appears wrinkled, scrape it off, starting with the first door to which you applied stripper. The white stain should come off easily, but if it resists, allow it to sit for another five minutes. Scrape off all components of the stain and stripper.

  • Flip the doors over and apply stripper to the other other side, wait, then strip as before.

  • Soak a cloth with denatured alcohol and rub on all the surfaces to clean. When the alcohol has dried, lightly sand the surfaces of all the components, then clean again with a damp cloth. Allow the cabinets to dry completely.

  • Stir the stain and apply with a brush, starting with the first door. When all the doors have been stained, go back to the first door and wipe each with a clean rag. Repeat on the other sides of the doors and the cabinet box.

  • Allow the cabinet components to dry overnight before reinstalling the doors.

Tips & Warnings

  • Do as much of the stripping and staining outdoors as possible. For built-in cabinet boxes, be sure to ventilate the room and take frequent fresh air breaks.
  • Paint stripper and denatured alcohol are flammable -- don't smoke while working with them or use near flame.

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