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help!please i staining kitchen cabinets vertically and in general.

hi so i sanded down my cabinets then wiped them down waited untill it dried then put the stain on. my cabinets are  really light kinda yellow, but i want them to be red mohagony from minwax but it turned out really bad. I only did it on one cabinet but it didn t come out that color. How do i do it and what do i need to make sure its done right?

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Posted 2013-03-12T06:23:11+0000  by thaina89 thaina89

Hello and welcome to the community, thaina89. Sorry to hear about this,  let’s see if we can help you out here. Unfortunately, you will have to re-sand and start over, but at least you only stained one cabinet, which was smart on your part. In the stores there are stain samples and on those samples there are two pieces of wood, oak and pine,  both are different color schemes from each other. Here’s my question for you, what type of wood are the cabinets? Do you have any pictures where we can get a visual? How many times did you stain it? The reason I ask is that you can stain as many times as you like until you get the desired color.

Have you used a wood conditioner?



 Minwax 1 qt. Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner


Prepare wood for staining with the Minwax 1 qt. Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. The conditioner penetrates the grain of new or bare softwood surfaces, such as pine, fir and spruce, or porous wood surfaces, including maple, alder and aspen. The conditioner prevents streaks and blotches to help ensure a beautiful, even stain.

  • For application with a cloth or brush
  • Recommended for use on new or bare soft or porous woods, including pine, fir, spruce, maple, alder and aspen
  • Dry to the touch in 15 minutes
  • Apply stain after 15 minutes but after no more than 2 hours
  • Cleans up with mineral spirits


I hope the questions I have and information is a start at least lets figure this one out together hope to hear from you soon.

Posted 2013-03-12T12:02:57+0000  by Soheil_HD_BOS



I am not a big fan of trying to refinish cabinets by sanding. You simply cannot open all areas of the wood grain sufficiently by sanding. For example, even top end cabinets utilize veneers for some portions. Veneer is only paper thin. If sanded, the veneer is breeched and the underlying corewood or particle board is exposed. When this happens, good results staining is now virtually impossible.


Even if you were dealing strickly with solid stock, you cannot take enough surface off  to be dealing with truly virgin wood. When floor refinishers come to resand your floors, they are taking 1/16th to 1/8th inch of wood away. You simply cannot sacrifice this much wood on cabinets!


So what to do? I personally use paint strippers to chemically remove the old finish. After the bulk of the old finish is removed with the stripper and scrapers, repeated thin coats of stripper are used utilizing medium grade steel wool to remove the remaining finish and also some of the wood fiber. After it appears that  the old finish has been removed, the finish is then wiped with lacquer thinner and finer grade steel wool. Finally, paper towels and lacquer thinner is used to wipe the surface to remove any  remaining stripper and steelwool particles.


I do not use sandpaper, as sandpaper will inevitably leave parts of the wood more opened grained and thus the stain will take darker in these areas.  Pre-Stain Conditioner is not normally needed, as the wood grain has been left evenly opened. Indeed, Pre-Stain Conditioner is often detrimental if a dark stain is desired. Conditioner partially seals the wood preventing stain from going really dark.


If a really dark stain is desired, it probably is not achieveable using conventional oil based wiping stains. Your choices are then:  use of a "brushing stain",  which is designed to be brushed on very evenly and not wiped, or use of a dye based stain, or varnishing over the cabinets with a product such as Minwax Poly-Shades. Poly-Shades is urethane varnish with color in suspension. It is brushed on evenly, becoming  a stain and varnish in one. Each additional coat will darken the finish, If additional protection is desired without darkening, you can switch to regular clear Minwax urethane varnish.


Back to stripping: Even if sanding is used, you are well advised to remove the finish first via chemical strippers. The hardest part of sanding  is breaking through the hard varnished protective coating.


Stripping is extremely tedious,  time consuming and not inexpensive. Were it not so, it would be more commonly done. There is a reason there are so many cabinet refacing companies around. The results are far better by replacing the doors and veneering over the old finish.


May I also point out that the stain samples you see on the MinWax display were done on VIRGIN wood.


I don't mean to discourage you, but only to make you aware of better practices and more realistic expectations when stripping. The bottom line is that the poor results you have had so far is probably due to the insufficient stripping of the wood to evenly open up the grain.


Good luck!

Posted 2013-03-15T05:40:11+0000  by ordjen
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