Tag Archives: before and after

Staining boring oak cabinets a rich dark color (with photos)

Ok. So for some of you who know me you’ll be happy to know that I am finished with this project and hopefully now that I am finished I’ll be able to shut up about it for a while. Heck it is just nice to be able to enjoy the work applied….

So anyways, here we go…

We had this boring builder-grade honey oak cabinetry in our kitchen. Both Marcia and I were not big fans but we lived with it because they were decent quality and they were functional. Anyways she told me about some Pintrest pictures she saw where they turned the honey oak into this “sultry, dark espresso”.  I am talking rich dark bown/black cabinets that looks really good. In the we were led to this blog post on simply a lifestyle that gave all the details we needed to get started.

How good does it look? Well you be the judge, here is a before and after of the cabinets (with the new appliances installed as well):

Now I have had experience both staining, and painting wood so I was pretty comfortable with all the standard prep work necessary. If you want a more detailed step-by-step check out the blog link above (seriously they deserve some of the credit), but here is my quick and dirty tutorial

Step 1: Equipment prep: Remove all pulls, hinges, screws, knobs or anything else stuck on the doors and drawers. Store them in a ziplock for safe keeping if you plan to reuse them.

Step 2: Area Prep. This is stain we are talking about, so add protection to nearby floors, ceilings, counters, walls, or any area that may get stain on it. I used painters tape all over but also laid down some roller paper on the floors and counter tops. Also if you have kids like I do and there were items protected behind doors that are now exposed, don’t forget to move that stuff to a less kid-accessible location.

Step 3: Clean everything first. I scrubbed the hell out of everything because of all the crud that ends up on there.

Step 4: Scruff sand everything. The linked tutorial says a basic sanding will work, but I prefer a more detailed sanding job. All in all I spent like 2 hours sanding.

Step 5: Stain. Dry. Stain. Dry. Stain. Dry. Seriously though I let a good day to dry between stainings. Also I am going to mention here because it came so highly recommended. The best stain to use on this type of project is General Finishes Java Gel Stain. This stuff is magic. It has the consistency of a hair gel, goes on like a paint, and when it dries, dries like a traditional liquid stain. It is so amazing. I will also say I preferred applying it with a sock (versus a foam brush). When applying it don’t be afraid to apply a thick coat of it. Also make sure to not rub it or massage it into the wood, it requires a bite of delicacy.
Step 6: Poly and let it dry. I ended up using 3 coats of poly with a day (to two day) dry time between coats.

All said and done this was very painless and well worth it improvement to our kitchen. We love the improved ambiance this change adds to the room. Here are a few additional shots of the new look (due to lighting some look more brown than they do in person, in person it is a rich dark coffee color), I hope you enjoy: