DIY Staining Kitchen Cabinets Dark Espresso

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When my husband and I received the keys to our new home (new to us, but really 16 years old), we knew the first room we wanted to tackle was the kitchen. We were dead set on having the kitchen completed before we actually moved in the house and we knew it was going to be the largest room to remodel in the house.

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The home we moved into had nice, very salvageable, light colored 20″ x 20″ tile flooring in the kitchen.  We thought dark cabinets would look best with this flooring. I was a little reluctant about taking on the job of staining dark cabinets until I came across Monica’s Blog. Monica was so clear and concise in the steps of her task to stain her bathroom cabinets a dark espresso color. She immediately made me confident in our kitchen project and that I could turn our oak cabinets into something beautiful. Before I made any moves in the kitchen, I made sure I had all of the supplies I was going to need.  General Finishes Gel Stain in Java (the best place to purchase it is through Amazon here or directly through Woodcraft here. As far as I know, your local big box stores does not carry this stain)


  1. General Finishes Satin Poly Topcoat (you can purchase through the same stores)
  2. 6+ pairs of men’s socks (The thicker the better! I just used my husband’s old ones)
  3. Latex Gloves
  4. Tape (and marker) for labeling the cabinet doors and taping off surfaces while staining
  5. Goof Off Wipes (great for little “oopsies” because this dark stain can get messy. These saved me several times!)
  6.  Power drill for removing/replacing hinges (we were too impatient to use a screwdriver)
  7.  Foam brushes (we bought several because they are so cheap and never bothered to wash or salvage them)
  8.  Some type of floor protections (newspaper, plastic, drop cloth, and old tarp – whatever works, but you want to protect your floors!)Sanding block (something to sand lightly – just to enough to rough up your cabinets. No need to over do it)

Step 1: Prep Your Space

Remove any existing handles and knobs (we did not have any), cover the floors under the cabinets and remove everything from your cabinets and counter tops. It wouldn’t hurt to wipe down your cabinets either with a wet cloth or the Goof Off wipes. Just to get any dirt, grime or old sticky food off your cabinets.

Step 2: Sanding

Take your sanding block and lightly sand all doors (inside and out) and all other surfaces of the cabinet. You want to make sure you are consistent and don’t over do some areas and go too light in other areas. Just rough up the cabinets enough to remove some of the builder grade clear coat/enamel on your cabinets. If your hand is cramping after a few doors, you’re working too hard! Once you are done sanding, clean up the sanding dust with water or wipes. The more you can get rid of the sanding mess, the better.

Step 3: Labeling and Removing Doors/Drawers

Go through each cabinet and drawers and label each one. You can use a number system (1, 2, 3…) or direction (N, E, S, W) and make sure you label with tape inside the cabinets as well on the door or drawers. Once they are all labeled, find a place where you will be staining and storing the doors and drawers during this project (and protect that area too!). Luckily for us, our house was empty and we planned on having new carpet installed so I used our empty family room and bedrooms as my work rooms on these cabinets. We also planned on getting new oil rubbed bronze door hinges so I did not bother saving any existing hinges. If you do plan on saving your hinges, make sure you keep them in order with each cabinet and label those too. It will make it much easier when you re-hang your cabinet doors.

Step 4: Staining

I went through and stained the entire framework of the kitchen cabinets first. I put the latex glove on, sock over my right hand, and dipped a light coat of stain on the top portion of my hand and began applying stokes with my hand on the cabinet. I used my pointer finger or the sponge brushed to help me if the stain clumped up when applying and to help to get in some of the small crevices. At first sight, I was weary if this stain was actually going to cover the existing oak color on these cabinets. What you need to realize during the first step, its better to go thin with your coats than try to rush the color coverage. Also, this is a gel stain, so it will not penetrate into the wood, it is going to more or less coat the cabinet. Don’t get discouraged, it will cover! That is why it takes three coats.


After the first coat. You can see it is very streaky!


Another shot of the first coat.


The second coat is pictured below. Much better. But not quite done.


And the third coat of stain. (Excuse our mess!)


As far as the cabinets doors, I did 3 coats of stain on the inside of the doors and let them dry before I ever turned them over and started the outside of the door. I’ve heard of people using painter’s pyramid or leaning the doors against something in order to stain two sides at once, but it just didn’t work for me. I gave up and chose the more time consuming way of one side at a time.

An extra room taken over as my work space.


I let the first coat of stain dry 12 hours before I put the 2nd one on, then 24 hours before I put the third coat on. You will want that third coat to dry around 4 days until you start a clear coat. I think these times can vary depending on the weather or season. Just use your better judgement, if the stain is still tacky to touch, I’d wait. You don’t want to rush it!


Step 5: Clear Coat & Re-Hanging & Hardware

By the time I had completed all three coats of stain, I was in love with my “new” cabinets. To my surprise, the clear coat was harder to apply than I anticipated. It doesn’t have that same gel coverage as the gel stain. It is a lot more watery, but the results are amazing! It is a lot harder to apply with the glove and sock but I still highly recommend it. It does get drippy and messy. I definitely used my sponge brushes a lot more on the clear coat to help spread it around and coat the cabinets evenly. I applied two coats of clear finish about 24 hours apart and let them dry a few days.

After two coats of clear coat. You can see the rest of the kitchen is coming along as well. (I will explain all of that in my next post)


I had my husband re-hang my doors before I did the clear coat but this was just my preference. I was tired of working on the ground and I didn’t mind working around the new hinges. We had gone back and forth a few times on whether we were going to get new Oil Rubbed Bronze or Silver hardware for the doors but we decided to go with oil rubbed bronze to match our other accents in the house. We ordered all of our hinges and hardware from Amazon.

Here are some pictures of our finished project.  For more information on the other DIY projects in our Kitchen Makeover click here.





It has been almost 6 months since I stained the cabinets. The stain and clear coat have held up very well. My son drives cars, toy blowers and power tools into the cabinets all of the time and they never scratch or ding them up. I have found a few dings in my bathroom cabinets (which I stained the same time as the kitchen) and a great trick is to use a permanant black marker to cover it. If the ding is small, the marker looks great.

I hope this post is helpful for anyone interested in staining their cabinets. It is not as hard as you think! Feel free to comment with any questions :)

{{I used this same method of staining when we remodeled our Laundry Room, Spare Bathroom, Master Bathroom and Family Room.  Feel free to check out these posts as well for more on staining cabinets or DIY home remodels.}}

xo Marci

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  1. Lindsey Cano says:

    I love this!! So nice to know in case I ever need to do it in the future! How did you do your back splash?!?! That makes the whole kitchen! So beautiful!!

  2. How many cans of gel stain did this take? Also, did your cabinets seem to have a lacquer or polyurethane coating before you started? I know you say light sanding was all you needed, I’m wondering what your surface was like before you sanded.

    • Hi Micha,
      These are great questions. I used about 1 whole quart of the gel stain for the kitchen. And about 3/4 of a quart of the clear coat. A little goes a long way!
      As far as my cabinets before, they definitely had a clear coat to them. They were your typical 1990′s oak, builder grade cabinets. I only slightly roughed them up. The gel actually coats the wood instead of penetrating the wood and actually staining it. Therefore, a lot of sanding isn’t necessary.
      I hope this helps :) Good luck!

  3. Michele Salas says:

    Hi! About how much did the whole project cost you?

    • Hi Michele,
      All of the supplies together for the kitchen cabinets were less than $100. We did buy new hinges and cabinet pulls/knobs which made our total cost go up. This is optional though and varies in price.
      I hope this helps!

  4. Just saw your picture on Pinterest and couldn’t pass the opportunity. I did exactly the same with my kitchen cabinets–Monica’s tutorial FTW!!–, on my new condo. Everyone who saw the before/after thinks we bought new cabinets! I still have to do some touch ups in a couple of spots that got scratched when we installed the new hinges and handles (we had to drill the holes for those, since the cabinets didn’t have any), but overall it feels like a brand new kitchen.

    Your kitchen looks awesome now! Loved your choice of backsplash!!

    • Maeva,
      Isn’t Monica’s tutorial on her blog great?! Thank you for the nice comments and stopping by the site! :)

      • Indeed, her tutorial saved us from spending a lot of $$ with refacing. We heard so many people saying we should just reface our cabinets, that it was a waste of time doing it ourselves… Until they saw the ending result!! Our kitchen is almost done now, we’re just waiting for our backsplash and I’m finishing staining our roll out trash cans–another project I found on Pinterest and decided to do, hubby loved the way it turned out, he says it’s his favorite thing in the condo right now lol

  5. Marci,
    I am moving into our new house in two weeks, we have the same 1990′s oak and I am itching to get started on our kitchen remodel! Thanks for your blog, I can’t wait to show my husband and get the approval since your costs were so low.

    • Lindsay,
      I hope the blog helps! It’s always nice to start remodeling before you move all of your stuff in. Good luck with the new house!! :)

  6. What color is your granite?It matches perfectly. Is your backsplash brown tones or black?

    • Hi Samantha,
      I’m not sure on the name of the color. We bought it from a small local granite/tile shop. It is mostly tan colors with a little black and dark brown. The backsplash has no black in it. It’s all tans and dark browns.
      Thank you for the nice compliment!
      I hope this helps!

      • Where did you buy your backsplash and what coloris it called? I did my cabinets and have been searching for the perfect backsplash for what seems like months! Also, we are thinking about getting Granite as well, about how much did the Granite cost you?

  7. the dark colored cabinets look very elegant! it’s been a while since I’d seen something like this.

  8. Love your kitchen! What color paint did you use for your walls? :)

  9. We are currently using your blog to redo our kitchen cabinets. Did you guys stain the inside of the cabinets as well? I am worried if we don’t stain the ones at/above eye level, it won’t look very good.

    • Hi Karri,
      No, we did not stain the inside. I think it just depends what the material is inside the cabinets. It has never bothered us but I’m sure it would look nice if it was done :)

    • We just started the clear coat with this process, so far it looks great and those goof off wipe are AH-MAZUNG! Get them before you start! We did not stain the inside of the cabinets. I was lazy, yes, but I also worried that over time scraping dishes and glasses in and out that it would ruin it (or the dishes) eventually. Also, your doors are mostly shut concealing the insides anyway. I may make an exception if you have any pretty glass cabinet doors where you have a view the insides. What I was unsure about, and still haven’t done anything to fix, is the underside of the cabinet boxes which can be seen if you’re sitting at the dining room table (oops). Maybe one day I’ll cut and stain plywood and cut holes to mount my under cabinet lighting. That’ll solve the untainted underside issue and conceal all the wires. I’m pretty over this project for now though since we currently live in our house meaning my kitchen use has been impaired for several weeks now haha

  10. hello how much stain did you use? did you use it all and how many cabinets?

  11. Stephania says:

    Luv, luv, luv everything you guys have done. It looks great! I was wondering where you purchased the floor tile & if you remember the name? Thx :-)

    • Hi Stephania,
      Thank you for the nice compliments! The tile on the floor was existing when we bought the house. Fortunately, we did not have to re-do the floors :)

  12. how long did it take you to complete this project

  13. Hi Marci – I am in the process of staining cabinets at this very moment and waited about 20 hours before starting the 2nd coat and I noticed that it was still tacky but went ahead. There isn’t much difference between the 1st and 2nd coat and I’m wondering if I didn’t put enough on. I used the sock method. Not sure what’s happening!!…..Any ideas?

    • Hi Karen,
      I know it can get a little discouraging during the process, but I’m sure it will turn out great! Do your cabinets look quite a bit lighter than mine did after the second coat? If so, it’s not a problem, you just may need a fourth coat if they are not dark enough for you after the third coat. It’s better to have light coats with plenty of drying time than trying to rush it sand have the stain look clumpy! Feel free to ask any other questions :) Good luck!

      • Thank you! I realized I wasn’t putting enough stain on – I was treating it more like an oil base so I did a thicker coat, but not too thick (I hope) and it looks more like your pics – thanks for your help!

  14. Hi Marci! I love your kitchen!! I can only hope my kitchen turns out as gorgeous as yours! I had to laugh when I saw your backsplash. We have the same one – we installed it last year. It looks great with the dark cabinets. :) I am in the middle of applying General Finishes Gel Stain to Maple Cabinets in my kitchen. Wow! This is a very time consuming project – in a great way of course. This is the only time I would wish for a smaller kitchen. I have 30 cabinet doors and 14 drawers to finish. Yikes! I have applied the stain to the back side of my doors and plan to start the cabinet frames and the fronts of the doors tonight. I think this project would be a bit easier on Oak as you would be able to see the grain. My maple cabinets look more like they are painted. I have two questions I would love to get your help on. Did you see streaking at all? I may have applied too much stain or it could just be the smooth maple – but wanted to see it you had any ideas before I started on the front. Luckily I started on the back of the doors first. ;) The streaking almost looks like brush marks. Also did you sand between Poly coats? I saw Monica’s blog first and then found yours. You two are amazing!! :) I hope my kitchen will look as great as yours!!

    • Debbi,
      Thank you for all of the nice comments! I’m sure you will love the difference when you are done. To answer your question, I did see streaking after the first two coats but by the third coat there was really no streaking or wood grain showing. The gel stain coated my cabinets ( like being painted) rather than penetrating the actual wood. And also, I did no sanding in between coats and very minimal sanding in the beginning. Good luck and feel free to ask any other questions :)

      • Thank you Marci! I appreciate your quick response. :) Thank for letting me know your cabinets looked more like paint. At different camera angles I can see some grain in your pictures and others that have applied the stain to oak cabinets. I wish I could see a little more grain with the maple but I LOVE the color!! :)
        As I apply the stain, I struggle with just the right amount of gel to apply. I have found that having mineral spirits handy can quickly solve a bad application. It can wipe it all away if need be – and start over again.
        The interior panels of the doors are definitely more work with all the corners and nooks and crannies to get into. The stain likes to pile up in the corners. As I work in the stain – it starts to dry quickly. If I go over the area again – it will get chunky and not smooth. Did this by chance happen to you when you worked on the inside panel of the doors? Your cabinets doors look very similar to mine. Did you find the clear coat removed some of your streaks? Thank you so much for your help! It helps me avoid a panic attackover the thought that I have ruined my maple cabinets! ;)

  15. Hello,
    I am in the process of staining my bathroom cabinets now and the first thing I noticed is the powerful smell! How do you get the smell out of the room? What did you do? I am using a vent, opening the window, and wear a mask while staining the wood but I still get a headache every time I go into the bathroom to work! Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • Hi Lindsay,
      I do remember a very distinct smell from the stain and by the third coat I was tired of it! I stained my cabinets before we moved into the house so I just aired it out and don’t remember it ever being that bad. Warming water and baking soda in a crock pot always helps with odors too ( I have a post on that.) Good luck!! :)

  16. Marci – I have a sample door started :) I’m so excited. Thank you for inspiring me.
    Could questions for you….
    It seems like on the side of my cabinets it is a plywood type wood with a sticker coat over it. Will the gel stain stick on that? (the only reason I noticed is because in one of the corners it bubbled up (they must have put it on after the floor trim was on).

    Also – do you think it will look funny with medium trim and medium house doors? The entire house is that medium wood /oak look.

    • Hi Stacy,
      I had no problem at all staining the sides of my cabinets. I know exactly which material you are talking about. It’s as if it is a faux wood. I had the same.
      As far as trim on doors, I don’t see why the stain would not work. I’ve always had white trim in my homes.
      Good luck!! I’m sure you’ll love the results :)

  17. Christie Spera says:

    Your cabinets are beautiful! I am in the process of the same kitchen transformation as we speak. I finished my last coat of poly and put my drawers back in today. It was quite sunny today and I noticed some streaking of the poly and almost a reddish tone coming through as well. I don’t remember seeing this before. I put a solid 3 coats of gel stain on the drawers with a foam brush. I’m wondering if you have any ideas why I’m seeing the streaking and reddish tone? My heart sank after seeing this so any suggestions on next steps would be so appreciated!!

  18. I’m sooo happy I found this post! The house we’re moving to has the same builder oak kitchen cabinets…going to give staining a shot! Not sure if I missed it…you said you did one side of the cabinets at a time….how long did the overall project take? I want to get an idea of how many days to plan for. Thank you!

    • Hi Miya, take a look at my cabinet post. I go over drying times on there. I’d say the project took about 10-14 days total. Good luck :)

  19. Whitney Mendez says:

    Where did you get your backsplash??? I will be starting this exact project shortly and will be going from the same color you did to the new color and have similar granite and MUST have that backsplash!!!!

  20. If I’m going to paint my kitchen should I wait to stain the cabinets? Can I put tape on the stained cabinets later??

    • Hi, you can definitely use painter’s tape on the stained cabinets once they are completely dry! Good luck with your project :)

  21. I’m looking for the back splash as well. This is my project for 2014. I’ve been looking at backsplash that is similar but decided to stain my cabinets too. They are about the same color as yours were originally. Please let us know thanks.

  22. This is exactly what I want to do to my kitchen. But we currently have like a cherry color. We want the cabinets darker like an espresso. Do you think this can be done?

  23. Painting your cabinets yourself is a great way to save a lot of money! And if you do it carefully they will look as good as if they had been painted by a professional.

  24. Where did you get your backsplash??? Do you know the brand name and/or color??

    Your kitchen looks beautiful!

  25. Kitchen looks great! I went to Amazon to order the stain and polyacrylic and noticed there were two types of polyacrylic, a satin and a semi-gloss. Which one did you use? Thanks in advance….again, looks great!

  26. Hi Marci, kitchen looks great! I recently purchased solid oak cabinets from someone who was redoing their kitchen. I have to get a few custom pieces made to tie the cabinets together. I was wondering if it makes a difference staining new oak non stained cabinets and original?
    Thanks for any advice.

    • Hi Eileen,
      I really don’t think you’ll have a problem with new & old as long as they are the same wood/texture. Good luck!!

  27. Beautiful job. I don’t need new hinges, so if I cover them would it matter if I don’t remove doors to stain, as I don’t have space to lay them all out together & will take twice as long to complete the job.

  28. Beautiful job, my space it limited for laying out the doors, so does it matter if I leave doors on cabinets to stain. Thanks

  29. I’ve started my 1/2 bath vanity. Today I applied the second coat and it looks go already. It’s been pretty easy and the tutorial has been very helpful. Can’t wait ill Tuesday to apply the last coat! I think I’m addicted to this, already planning to redo the cabinet in my laundry room. Thanks

  30. Your kitchen is beautiful! I’m going to attempt to stain my own builder-grade oak cabinets, starting in a bathroom, and if I’m successful, ending in the kitchen. Your instructions have been very helpful! I’m still torn over a color though. I have white tile floors with white ground, and a black/green granite counter. The backsplash is glass mosaic in a tan/cream/white/pearl color. All these other things are new(er) so I don’t want to redo anything except the cabinets.

  31. Do you have tile in your living room too? We’re going to be remodeling soon and are trying to figure out what kind of flooring to do in the attached eat-in/living room.

  32. Hi! I love the color of the cabinets – it’s beautiful and exactly what I want. What color and brand stain did you use?

  33. Nice job. The only thing I would suggest is that you go back and do the baseshoe quarter round for that custom look.

  34. This looks fabulous! I have ordered the Java and have begun sanding. The one question I have is did you sand between coats? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  35. Hi Marci,

    These look great and I’m very interested in trying this myself. I love the clear coat, the shine seems perfect. Can you tell me what kind of finish that is…satin, high gloss, etc? Thanks!

  36. OMG – I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! You did a Fabulous job! I am very inspired.

  37. Hello,
    How much did the backsplash cost and was it the adhesive kind? I want to do my counters as well but am trying to look for a cheaper method than granite but with the look of granite. Any ideas???

    thanks and hope to hear back!
    Nicole :)

  38. Hi!! I did this to my kitchen and bathroom cabinets just a few weeks ago. Very happy with the end result. I bought new counter tops for my kitchen I bought laminate that has the “granite” look at lowes looks great! I spent $422 I also replaced my sink and garbage disposal which was another $100 each @lowes

  39. Hi Marci,
    Your kitchen looks great! I just did my kitchen cabinets with the exact stain… Love it!
    What is the name of your backsplash and where did I you buy it?


  40. Hi Marci,
    Thank you for your great feedback to all of the questions. I tried to find my question before asking couldn’t find it. As you applied the stain with a sock, did you wipe all of the left over stain off completely?

    Thank you in advance!! Kitchen looks great !!

  41. Thanks, Excellent information.

  42. Your kitchen looks great! I was wondering how you finished off the edges of the back splash. Did you add a bullnose tile, metal trim, etc? I am trying to figure out how to finish the ends of mine. Thanks!!

  43. Gorgeous! I need to work up my nerve to do this.

  44. Looks beautiful! Thank you for your tutorial! I have been asking my husband to do something with our cabinets to match our new tigerwood floor, his excuse always was that it is not worth a hassle, it is easier to save some money and install new cabinets. But you convinced me that I can do this all myself. I have a question, since we live in the house already, will staining have strong odor in the house? Or is it bearable? Thank you.

    • Hi Leah,
      Good luck with your cabinets! From what I remember, the smell is distinct but not unbearable. Spring time would be a great time for the project because you can open some windows. The smell goes away after the cabinets dry. I hope this helps :)

  45. I know this post is old, but your initial cabinets look exactly like the ones in the house we are purchasing! The current owner is finishing up the renovation & soon we will be able to pick out our countertop and flooring. While I was thinking about what I would like, I kept thinking “If only the cabinets were a tad darker”, and now I am about 80% convinced that I would like to stain them. I am just quite nervous about undertaking such a task. I would like to do them before we move in, as they are new cabinets so I would only have to do a quick cleaning, nothing too vigorous since they haven’t been exposed to grease or other things. My husband seems to think that it will be too hard for me to do and I will probably screw it up! I understand his concerns, since he doesn’t want our new house & kitchen to be wrecked before we even move in! I have just always pictured a kitchen with darker cabinets so my heart is leaning towards staining. I have skimmed over your blog, but plan to read it thoroughly tomorrow when I have the time, but if you have any advice or updates since this post, please share with me :) Thanks a bunch!!

    • Hi Sara,
      If you do decide to stain, it will be much easier to accomplish if you do it before you move your stuff in those cabinets and before you need a full functioning kitchen! I’m not sure what the finish is like on your new cabinets (or if they are custom of builder grade) but you may need to do a little more sanding but still nothing major to get the stain to apply the way you want it. Also, you may not need to do three coats like I did if you just want them a “tad” darker. On the other hand, if you pick out dark flooring and dark counter tops, you may be happy with the color your cabinets are now! Lots to think about! Good luck with the new kitchen. How exciting. I hope this helps!

  46. Online the cabinets appear black. I understand that they’re Java colored, but can you tell me if they look brown or black in person? I need to order stain NOW! Lol.

    • They are a very dark brown and never seemed to look black to me in person. We’ve since sold that house and moved but when we did still live there I never thought they looked black in person. Good luck!

  47. I am so excited to tackle this project in June! My husband doesn’t think it will look professional but your and Monica’s blog pictures look amazing! How did you find the right size hinges? I want to buy them on amazon but am not sure if the holes will match up with the existing holes. Also when you installed the handles did the new stain scuff up a bit?

  48. I just started this project. I have the exact cabinets throughout the house and new ones weren’t an option. Lucky for me the previous homeowner updated the counter tops, so that part is done. I have decided to start in the master bathroom. I was a nervous wreck before I started and revisited your blog several times. I have to say that after just one coat I am already super excited. I live in Arizona and it is in the high 80′s so I was able to take drawers and door outside and everything is drying quickly.

    THANK YOU for the detailed blog! Super helpful!!!!!!


  49. We have nice oak cabinets, but I just don’t really care for the grain pattern of oak. I also prefer a darker cabinet. Can you still see the grain through the dark stain or has it smoothed out a little? I don’t think a picture would reveal that detail. We have a piece of furniture that is oak with a darker stain that made the grain look “tiger-ish.” I would hate to have the same results in our kitchen.

  50. I would love to stain my cabinets darker, only thing is that all of the trim is the same color (including our mantle and crown molding). How would I go about staining that? Is it possible? Is it worth it?

  51. Hi I recently started my bathroom and am having a problem with lint/fuz sticking to the cabinets as they dry?
    They still look amazing I am just wondering if this is normal or of I am doing something wrong or if there’s a way to prevent it ^^;
    Hoping to prefect it before I start on my kitchen :)


  52. Hi, i am waiting to see if we get the house we just made an offer on. I looked at the cabinets and thought oh geez! These need to go (along with the blue carpets, but that’s another story).
    What color of stain did you use ?? I love your results and will give this a shot if we get this house.


  53. Carrie Ruiz says:

    I have the same question. Did the wood grain show through

  54. I redid my cabinets same color and I love it except I have multiple streaks. I used a tshirt rag instead of sock but all else the same. I am not sure how to correct. Any suggestions?
    Thank you,

  55. Great! Great! Great! That is exactly what I am looking for! Will give it a try.
    Thanks a lot for posting this!

  56. Do you remember how many cans of stain it required for you to refinish your cabinets?

  57. For me it took 1 quart can. I have 22 doors and 11 drawers. I just did the fronts and did 3 coats of dark cherry over light oak. A little goes a long way. It was this site that inspired me and I couldn’t be happier with the results. And it was very easy since I didn’t take remove any cabinets.

  58. Lauren R says:

    I was so excited to find your blog because we are renovating our kitchen. We are replacing everything in the kitchen except the cabinets; those we stripped off the paint and sanded them down so they are a nice finish. My only question is do you need to have your countertops replaced before you start staining the cabinets? We were going to do our cabinets first (to get it out of the way and not interfere with a new granite countertop) and then get new granite installed; is that okay?

  59. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this website needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be
    back again to read through more, thanks for the advice!

  60. Adelina says:


    When you did this did you take the cabinets completely off the walls or just the facings? Looked over a few of your replies and haven’t seen anyone bring up this question. I hope I’m not asking the same question twice. Also if just the facings then what was your method for getting the trimmings? Im in the middle of deciding whether to pay a contractof to stain my existing cabinets or to attempt doing them ourselves. Btw great job your kitchen looks fab!

    Thank you

  61. Marci,

    I have visited your page a couple of times now, as I ”rev up” as my Husband and I prepare to take on this project in our new to us kitchen. I’m wondering how many cans of stain and clear coat you used for the kitchen cabinets? My kitchen appears to be a comparable size and any approximate info would be great.

  62. I absolutely adore this! Well done!! I read through all of the comments, and I see you no longer live there (congrats on the new house!) but I’m worried if I do this, that they will get scratched? The way our dishwasher and one door is, the kids always manage to hit the dishwasher door on the cabinet door when it’s slightly open. I’m just wondering about how easily you found it scratched from oopsies? Thanks!

    • Hi Karen, I felt the stain held up really well! For minor scratches, just a black permanent marker works to fill in! Good luck with your project :)

  63. Hiya, can you tell me where you got the colour for your cabinets please
    I’ve got a pine bed that I want to do black/brown so hoping the espresso
    Colour will do it.

    Thanks x

  64. What type of sanding block did you use?

  65. Hi Marci,
    Thank you so much for your posting and all the information. I purchased the products, but not sure if I got it right. For the Topcoat I received “General Finishes Gel Topcoat Satin”, is that correct?
    In the supplies picture you are showing something different. You are showing Poly/Acrylic, but I cannot see if that is Satin for SemiGloss. In your notes you are saying “General Finishes Satin Poly Topcoat.” Do I have the right product?

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