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Home » DIY Tutorials » Top DIY Tutorials » How to Stain OAK Cabinets…the simple method (without sanding)!

How to Stain OAK Cabinets…the simple method (without sanding)!

I know, I know…where have I been?!?!  Well, finishing up house projects.  Lots and lots of them.  We have put off finishing the last bits of the house for long enough.  And now they are DONE.  And wow, it feels good!!!  Thanks to a new year and a goal to have them all completely finished.

 

Remember how I shared our Stained/Painted Banister last week?  Well, I mentioned to some in the comment section that we were working on staining our bathroom cabinets (which were the last thing in the house that still had that gorgeous orange oak color……ha, I kid) — and now they’re done too!  Both upstairs bathrooms are stained, top coat applied, dried, and beautiful!

 

Which is funny that all it took was a little stain (that can be purchased online HERE) to make these bathrooms look so much better.  Because when we moved into the house almost 2 years ago, our plan was to tear out the cabinets and install new ones.  We also wanted to install a different shower and possibly change out the tile too.  But, the budget never allowed it (and we always found other things to spend any extra cash on).  We finally decided that even though the tile wasn’t our first choice, it really wasn’t all that bad……and that staining the cabinets would be good enough for now.  And now that it’s done, we’re so MAD we didn’t do it earlier.  We actually love the clean dark look of this Java stain….and it gives a great pop to the bathroom!  And the best part — it was CHEAP and super FAST to do!

 

 

 

When I dug through all of the “before” pictures that I took before moving into our house…..I realized I didn’t have any that captured the old color and look of the cabinets very well.  Ooops.  But the picture below gives you a pretty good idea.

 

 

 

Because it’s stain, you still get to see the wood grain.  Even with this really dark brown Java stain.  And let me tell you, applying this gel stain is SO much easier than painting.  You don’t have to worry about paint lines and/or your paint getting too thick and clumpy, etc.  It really is SO much easier to apply.  And nope, not a single need to sand any of that wood before applying the stain.  Can I get a HALLELUJAH?!!

 

 

 

All we stained were the doors and the front facing section of the cabinets.  Just like cabinets that you’d buy at the store (or have installed by a cabinetry company), the inside box of the cabinet were left alone.

 

 

 

Oh, and let’s talk about hardware.  If you want to take your plain cabinetry up 327 notches, add hardware.  Please, oh please add hardware!!  The pops of metal add SO MUCH to the look of your cabinetry…..and yeah, they also help open your drawers and doors too! ;)  So for $2-3 for very basic knobs, please don’t skip the hardware!

 

 

 

We also changed out the light fixtures above both sets of cabinetry, which made a huge difference.

 

Oh, and one of my very favorite transformations that we’ve done throughout the whole house, is trimming the windows and doors (<—yes, that’s a link, go check out that tutorial too!).  So, you better believe we trimmed out the 2 windows here in our bathroom too.  And oh yes, I’m in love!

 

 

 

Such a beautiful transformation, for such little time and very few dollars.  Perfect.

 

 

I know some of you must have some oak cabinets that you’ve been wanting to change.  Well, now you know, it totally works!!!

 

And because I already shared all of the info for staining oak over on my Staining/Painting an OAK Banister post, take a peek over there first to see how to best stain your oak cabinets.

 

(Here’s a peek in case you missed that post ———v)

 

 

The only additional info you may need (than the banister post linked above) is that you must take each of your doors and drawer fronts off and remove all hinges, knobs, etc.  Sand down any bumps or nicks in the wood.  Then apply your stain with a sponge brush.  (Yep, we used the same Java Gel Stain as the banister…worked awesome!)  If you keep it light and really even, you may not even need to wipe any excess off (which is what I was aiming for, to save time and mess).  But if you have any clumps of stain, you can wipe that away with a soft lint-free cloth.  Let your first coat dry completely and then add another coat or two if needed.  (I only needed 2 coats for these cabinets because the color soaked in really well.)

 

Here’s a cell phone picture of the stain I applied to the cabinet fronts.  This is after one coat.  Just be sure to not get too sloppy and let any of the stain get onto the inside of the cabinet.  However, you can see that my stain got a little messy along the side where it touches the wall.  And that’s okay because I knew I could go back later and paint over that when I painted the walls.

 

 

 

To paint the doors, we put them out in the garage on top of these little plastic Pyramid Stands (we found them here on Amazon).  They made a huge difference to keep the doors off the ground, so that we could stain both sides even if one side was still a bit tacky.

 

 

 

 

Buuuuuuut, we ran out of the little pyramids.  So, we used the nail gun and shot a whole bunch of nails through an old piece of wood so that the doors could balance on something similar to the pyramids.  Worked GREAT!

 

 

And that’s about it.  The rest of the process was identical to the Staining an Oak Banister tutorial.  Including applying the polyurethane Top Coat, which really helps seal in the stain and protect from normal wear and tear.

 

Now go on, don’t worry about staining your cabinets any longer……it will turn out beautifully!!

Bathroom Cabinet Refinishing: Staining Oak Cabinets DIY Project

Refinish Bathroom Vanity DIY Project: How to Stain (Dark) Oak Cabinets without Sanding

Yield: Beautiful Dark Oak Bathroom Cabinets

A weekend DIY project to refinish oak bathroom vanities using a dark brown Java gel stain. Learn how to make your cabinets darker without sanding. Easy and budget-friendly.

Materials

  • General Finishes Oil Base Gel Stain, 1 Quart, Java
  • General Finishes Polyacrylic Top Coat
  • Sponge Brush
  • Matching Door Knobs (optional)
  • Paint Tape (optional)

Tools

  • Mouse or sponge sander (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove cabinet doors, drawers, knobs, and hinges
  2. Stain the cabinet fronts by applying gel stain on a sponge brush, with light and even strokes to avoid getting stain on the insides.
  3. Stain the front of the cabinet doors with light and even strokes to avoid clumping.
  4. Let the first coat dry, and apply one or two more coats as needed. (The color soaked in well, so I only needed 2 coats.)
  5. Apply the polyurethane Top Coat to seal in the stain, and protect from normal wear and tear.
  6. Re-place the cabinet doors, hinges, drawers, and knobs.


Here's the before and after:

Before and after oak cabinet stain
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Notes

  • This project uses a dark Java, but you can use a different color such as black or grey
  • If you notice clumps of stain form, wipe away with a soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Use paint tape to avoid getting stain on adjacent walls.
  • Use Painter's Pyramid Stands to hold up the cabinet doors while staining.

Good luck!

-Ashley

 

. . . . .

Looking for more home DIY projects??

 

DIY Board and Batten

 

Installing a door (the EASY way) and Trimming It Out

 

Turn A Coat Closet into a Mudroom

 

 

Ashley Johnston
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Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!
How to stain oak cabinets…the simple method (without sanding)!
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Comments

  1. Geena says:

    Im wondering how your cabinets and banisters are holding up after 5 years? Im getting ready to do this to our new house next month so getting all the information so I can tackle the kitchen, bathrooms and banisters that are all out dated oak. 😊

  2. Gemma says:

    Oh my goodness, I'm so happy that Google brought up your blog post when I searched for staining bathroom cabinets :-)
    We bought our first home last June and then our daughter was born in August, and so you can imagine that little to no work has really been done on making this house "ours" yet. We've been making lists and looking at what could possibly be done by us instead of contracting out; the three main things needed to be done are the paint colour, kitchen layout and hardware, and yep that's right… the entire house is oak trim with stair banisters, cabinets, and fire mantel to boot! As well as old school kitchen and bathrooms linoleum flooring, and old carpet – including in our dining room too!
    I see this great cabinets post and a post for your stair banister, do you have any other posts about how you changed your trim or updated other areas of your new house?
    Thank you so much, seeing your posts brings me hope and a little more confidence that we can do more parts of our house renovation than I thought. Gemma.

  3. Alison Birkenfeld says:

    Hi! I have two bathrooms, identical to yours in terms of cabinets that need to be done. Could 1 QT of stain do both? How much did you use for your bathroom transformation? Thank you!

  4. Melissa says:

    I love it all!! Is your paint color in your bathroom and room with the stairwell Revere Pewter?

  5. how to make a app says:

    check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, even so, they may be most trustworthy sources that we use

  6. eileen says:

    I love the way your cabinets turned out. I did my bathroom and kitchen too. I thought java would be too dark for my kitchen cabinets, so I went with antique walnut. It was a lot of work, but now that it’s over I couldn’t be happier! I posted it some pictures here – https://www.justmeasuringup.com/blog/kitchen-cabinet-makeover

  7. Jaydani says:

    one of our guests just lately suggested the following website

  8. Mel says:

    We just did our bar cabinets but we did sand. Thinking of moving into kitchen and wondering about avoiding sanding step. How long did you let each coat sit before wiping off excess?

  9. 7 color shower says:

    The facts talked about in the write-up are some of the ideal available

  10. Emily says:

    I’ve now done both vanieties in my house using your tutorial. The products were so easy to use. Wish I had done it sooner! Now, on to the kitchen….?

  11. Danielle says:

    So I’m trying this project on a bookshelf, and the stain doesn’t seem to be sticking to it. It’s getting scaly looking and then when I started a second coat, the first coat started coming off. Any ideas? The stain said to let dry 8 to 10 hours, and I waited nearly 24. I’m thinking I need to bring out the sander. But your projects are so beautiful. I hate to do that if I don’t need to.

    1. Easysqueeze says:

      I will suggest you sand it or use a paint stripper to remove the top layer finishing on the bookshelf. I have done similar work on staining cabinets from oak to a darker stain and the first time, I experienced the peeling upon applying the second quote. With the next set of cabinet doors, I hand sanded lightly, and then used a paint stripper ( At the moment, I don’t quite remember the name of the brand I purchased at home depot). I Cleaned the surface afterwards and allowed to dry for 15min and then applied the stain, which adhered to the wood more tightly and evenly. Second quote did not peel off the first. Hope this helps.

      BTW, try to use very thin quote in one straight run along the wood grain, without going back and fourth on your first quote. If the first quote is not thin enough, you will experience not so quick drying…

  12. Joey says:

    Great project and thanks for sharing all the details. Has anyone tried the Rust-O-leum cabinet kit and how it compares to what Ashley did in terms of results of the look and the amount of work?

  13. Barb says:

    I’m wondering if a “Java Gel Stain” by another brand, Minwax for example, would turn out the same. Just wanting to start now V’s ordering via the mail. Thoughts?

  14. Elizabeth says:

    Just finished my vanity with your instructions! Thank you so very very much!!! It’s beautiful!

  15. Rachel says:

    Quick question. The mirrors on the left wall above the vanity. They look like they open and provide storage. Can you give more info on those?

  16. Rachel says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I’m about to close on the perfect for me home but it’s orange oak throughout! Painting it seemed a gamble and so final but after seeing your results I’m convinced it’s right for me. Love that you used stain and not solid paint. I’m going to copy your stair project and, since it’s quite open plan, use the same stain on the kitchen cabinets. Thanks for the pyramid tips! I’m excited to get started now!

  17. C says:

    I have the same question. The side of our bathroom vanity is exposed and is like a wood-look vinyl. I’m wondering how the stain would work out there.

    1. Elizabeth says:

      I bought dark wood contact paper for the vinyl sides

  18. Rachel says:

    This looks awesome! What did you do with the sides of the cabinets? Mine are solid wood everywhere but the side (which appears to be a vinyl picture of wood).

  19. Kim says:

    Does this Java Gell come in other colours?

  20. Jessica says:

    This is not working. The stain wipes right off and does not seep into the wood at all. Do I have the wrong type of cabinets? Mine look exactly like yours.

    1. Jaclyn says:

      Jessica, did you get it to work? We have very nice oak cabinets that need a different color. I’d like to try the gel stain, but if it wipes off, I don’t want to try it.

    2. Jessica says:

      Jaclyn,

      Ours are wood laminate. So you must sand heavily or it wipes right off. After that, if you use the Java stain, it produces a medium-dark brown but MUCH lighter than in the photos above. If you don’t care about seeing any wood grain through it, then you can apply it heavily and you get a very dark result.

  21. Tammyt says:

    Has anyone finished an interior door with Java Gel stain? I am struggling between painting the doors white or dark with the Gel stain. Trim is white and staircase is Java Gell banister and white spindles.

  22. Ashley says:

    Will this work on veneer, that crappy ‘fake wood’? Or do you have any suggestions for that? we have one end that has that, all the rest is real wood ?

  23. Paula says:

    Hello Ashley,

    Beautiful work! I have one question what do I do about the panel sides on my Island and sides of cabinets?

  24. Cameron says:

    Hey Ashley,

    We have identical orange oak cabinets throughout our home (built in 2000 as well). We bought the same stain you recommended and followed your steps exactly, but for some reason the stain basically wiped right off after leaving it on for 10 minutes and barely made it any darker. We also tested it on a sanded cabinet and it darkened it a little bit more but not even close to the Java color we hoped to achieve in 2 coats. Where did we go wrong!? ?

    Thanks!
    – Cam

  25. Janet says:

    LOVE this new look on your cabinets. Our kitchen/bathroom (remodeled 20+ years ago) are all oak. It’s way over time for a change and this would be so much easier than replacing/painting cabinets – ’cause we love the layout. Question?? This method works even on oak cabinets with a lacquer finish?? The stain will seep in? I’m sure they need to be cleaned thoroughly first, but wondering if lacquer will prevent the stain from permeating the grain. Any idea before we start?

  26. Shelise says:

    Id love a tour of your current home.

  27. Gwen says:

    Thanks ao much for sharing this. Do you think I could do this to our dining room table? Would I need to put some type of sealant on top to make it food safe?

    1. Anonymous says:

      Beautiful job on everything! Unrelated question to paint/stain but where did u purchase the carpeting going up the stairs? Can you share the name/brand as well? :)

  28. Beth says:

    ashley, do you know if the other stain colors ( walnut, mahogany) cover the Orange oak as well? I want a finish a bit lighter than the Java.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Where can I buy this Java stain? Someone please tell me.

    1. Michele says:

      Go to the General Finishes website and do a store finder or where to buy. You put in your zip code. In my area, a pint was $17-$18

  30. Elizabeth says:

    Hi! I just purchased a home and have that lovely orange oak for the kitchen cabinets. The doors are definitely solid wood, but I think the sides might be veneer or laminate…Would I be able to stain the veneer the same way, would it need extra steps, or do I need to just replace them? Thanks!

    1. Ashley says:

      Hmmm, I’m not sure because I haven’t tried it. But maybe there’s a piece or a backside you can test first?

  31. Michele says:

    Hi Jennifer and Melissa. I just read your recent posts above and it sounds like you need advice, which I can’t give, I’m sorry!! BUT I just did my 2 bathroom vanitys (starting my 3rd today) and they turned out great……for my first time. Why your cabinets are not drying I don’t know. Can you move everything into the house and is your air conditioning on? Is your dehumidifier running? I’m just trying to think of things to do to get them to dry. Get a fan and turn it on and maybe the blowing air may help. How are things today?

    Michele

    1. Ashley says:

      Thanks for chiming in Michele….that was so kind of you! I’m glad it worked out so well for you and I’m hoping between your tips and mine, Jennifer and Melissa can get some better results as well!

    2. Jennifer says:

      Thanks for your suggestions. I replied to my original post above with how I recovered from my issues, but I think moving my project inside would have worked, too. Ultimately working outside in the sun caused my issue with the stain drying too fast. I liked working outside in my garage, but if I do it again I would make sure to either keep the garage door down, stay in the shade, or only work after the sun was down far enough to not be shining directly on my work.

  32. Melissa says:

    Read your post, and thought I would give it a try. I did all of my kitchen cabinets with the Java Gel Stain (followed directions) and after 4 days they are still sticky. As of right now, I am fearful that I have destroyed my kitchen cabinets. All information I have found stated that previous finishing is preventing the stain from drying. Thoughts? Have you had this problem before?

    Thanks, Melissa

    1. Ashley says:

      No, I didn’t have this happen at all. Are you living in a humid climate? Have you tried having a fan blow on them? I had thick varnish on my banister and semi-thick on the bathroom cabinets and they dried completely in a day or two. I’m also wondering if the coats were too thick. I would definitely try blowing direct air on them and see if that helps. Good luck!

  33. Jennifer says:

    I’m in the middle of staining my bathroom vanity and am freaking out! The first coat looked great, but the second coat got splotchy and especially heavy in some spots. The drawer fronts are darker than the doors and vanity base. And the areas of the doors where the routered edges are are the worst because the stain is extra heavy in those areas. Some of these issues are because the wood grain was not absorbing the stain so I got heavy in those area to fill them in, then the stain got tacky on the surface before I could wipe it off. Will all this resolve itself with more coats? Or am I sunk and need to go back and sand again on the doors (in those darn mitered areas – ugh!) and start again? Please offer advice!

    1. Ashley says:

      I’m not sure what’s going on, as I didn’t have this happen to me. But I’m thinking maybe it was applied too thick? If they’re splotchy places, I would sand it down again to make it more even and then apply a thin coat and see how it looks. Hopefully that will help! :)

    2. Jennifer says:

      Thanks so much for replying. I finally figured out what was happening and after that it all worked out. I was working in my garage, with the door up. On sunny days the areas that were in the sun were drying too fast so when I would go to get more stain on my rag or foam brush (I used both techniques), I was unable to blend the area I’d just completed with the new area without splotches. It was also causing the drawer fronts to dry to fast, causing them to be darker because it was going on slightly thicker with less area to be spread around than on the doors. I sanded down 2 of the three and started again and was happy to be able to fix them. As far as the routered areas on the doors, I moved them out of the sun, switched to the brush and had much better results after the 3rd coat. All in all, I just needed to think about what was happening, take some deep breaths and move forward. My bathroom is now finished and looks wonderful. Thanks so much!

    3. Ashley says:

      What a relief to hear! So happy you figured it out….and thanks for posting what you did to fix the problem, because that will probably help someone else in a similar situation! So happy you love them!!!!!!!

  34. Kristi Woody says:

    Just started this project today! Didn’t get very far because the hinges of my cabinets seem to have been screwed in BY HERCULES. I definitely didn’t anticipate this part of the project to be so tough, but thankfully the little bit of actual staining I did went well :) Can’t wait to get this done so I can paint the walls and the get new countertops! Goodbye 1984, hello 2015! Thanks for this post.

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh GREAT!! So glad it worked out for you……but darn those hinges! Good luck with all of the projects you’re tackling! :)

  35. Sy says:

    Thats awesome and gorgeous! Im so excited to do that on my dresser. Anyways, how much Gel stain did you use in doing the cabinet? Thanks

  36. Debbie says:

    Hi..
    I love, love this Java stain gel..I did my bathroom vanity and I was wondering about the top coat you used? Did you use the stain or gloss top coat?
    P.S. I am going to do all my oak cabinets in my whole house..

    Debbie

  37. Anonymous says:

    What about oak trim around any doors and floorboards? I am so wanting to do this in our bathroom – ok really in our whole entire house! – but we have oak trim everywhere! I can see in one of the before pictures that you have a doorway framed in oak….did you try staining this oak too?

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  39. brenda says:

    What about oak that has been stained with a glossy varnish?

  40. Anonymous says:

    The before and after are two different sets of cabinets

    1. Ashley says:

      No, they really are the same exact cabinet. The pictures are at different angles….because the only BEFORE picture I had was one that we took right after moving into the house. But if you look closely, there’s the same amount of cabinets and drawers and in the mirror you can see the reflection of the shower and other mirror, etc. But I think it’s pretty cool that you thought the before/after pictures were different……because that means the transformation was pretty huge!!! :)

      -Ashley

  41. sheri says:

    where did u get it?

    1. Ashley says:

      The stain? We bought it at a local woodworking store. But I found the same stuff on amazon. There’s a link up above to the stain and then the clear finish. Hope that helps!

      Ashley

  42. Anonymous says:

    What a great change. I’m interested in staining my kitchen table and chairs, and now the railing after seeing yours. Beautiful. Since the table will have a lot more ‘wear’ marks from use, will the stain color differently? This is 1 area I’m concerned about. Thanks for sharing

    1. Ashley says:

      It shouldn’t. The stain is pretty dark and seemed to cover evenly, despite the variations of wear on our banister (which we tried before these cabinets). You might want to test it out on some inconspicuous spots first.

      And good luck!
      Ashley

  43. Carol says:

    I would like to use this same method but I am concerned there is already a minwax finish on the cupboards. How do you prepare your cupboards if it has the protective coat on already?

    Will the gel still soak in? Am I better to give it a light sanding?

    1. Ashley says:

      I didn’t do any sanding at all. It’s completely up to you but the gel stain stays in place and doesn’t run anywhere while it affixes into the wood. How far it actually soaks in, I’m not sure. (You could always try an inconspicuous spot and see how it holds up, before tackling the whole thing.) But I have used the same stuff on my banister and bathroom cabinets…..and both are doing really well. Just be sure to do another coat of polyurethane on top, to seal it all in.

      Good luck!

  44. Susan says:

    I have a oak veneer (thin layer of oak) on a dining table that I would love to stain with this. Do you think it would work on this?

    1. Ashley says:

      I’m not really sure…..the only veneer that I stained, was the toe kick area of the cabinets. And they are so far under there and don’t get any wear or abuse….I’m not sure how it would actually hold up on a table top. It would be fun to give it a try though and if it doesn’t work, maybe try a standard latex paint and give the table a makeover!

      Good luck!

  45. Connie says:

    wondering it one could go the opposite direction and stain a creme off white color over oak cabinets? Do they make it or sell it in Canada? Message from Nova Scotia :)

  46. Mary says:

    Hi,
    I have medium oak cabinets and I am going to do them in a dark walnut stain. I would like to stain my island white and am wondering if one can apply a light stain over a dark stain. Perhaps I would need to paint the island but I think it would add a nice touch to go with a different color.

    thanks
    Mary

    1. Ashley says:

      I’ve never tried staining a light color over dark…but I imagine it might be hard to cover the dark stain. You could always test a hidden spot……but you could definitely paint over it with a light color. Good luck — sounds like you have some fun projects to do! :)

      Ashley

  47. Suzie says:

    Hello, I’m just wondering if your oak cabinets had a varnish on them? If so did you need to do anything to it before applying the gel stain? I’m hoping this will work for my kitchen cabinets! Thank you

    1. Ashley says:

      They had varnish on them but all I did was lightly sand certain spots, just to smooth out an bumps or nicks in the wood. I spent maybe 5 minutes doing that and then wiped it all down. That was it! :)

  48. Agnes Squires says:

    i have pine cabinets that i want to change so bad, what do u suggest i use & what do i need

  49. Norma says:

    Would this method be ok for a dining table where my son dripped crazy glue which I sanded off but now there’s an obvious light spot where I sanded?

    1. Ashley says:

      If you’re staining the whole table dark, you’ll probably never notice the lighter spot. If you need to, you can add extra stain to the lighter spot, let it soak in a little longer than the rest, then smooth it out. It’s pretty cool stuff!

  50. Carrie says:

    Love this!! Just finished doing this to our bathroom!
    Just discovered your blog and absolutely love what you do! Thanks for sharing with us!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh good……glad you were able to give it a try! Doesn’t it transform it so well?!?! :)

  51. Cathy says:

    I just purchased the General Finish Java Gel Stain. I intend to use it in my kitchen and bathrooms. I currently have a darker stain, maybe walnut??? The house was built in the 70’s. I think the Java stain will be just what they need. They currently have a pull on them, two screws. Do you think I could fill the holes with putty and the stain would take over the putty. I would like to go with a single knob to update the room.
    Thanks for your help.
    Your cabinets and banister look great.

    Cathy

    1. Ashley says:

      I think it would work. Just be sure to use a stain-able wood filler. This stain is so dark, you’ll probably never notice. Best of luck….sounds like you have an awesome transformation coming up!

  52. Judy Welbaum says:

    Just want you to know,,,,I did it…the Java stain and satin top coat and it turned out soooooooo pretty. Kitchens cabinets and vanities.
    I would not have done it without your website and showing me how to do it…thank you sooo much.

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh YAY!!!!!! So glad to hear it turned out so well! I love hearing how it works out for others. And I’m even more happy you love it! :)

  53. Krista says:

    We have oak like this all over our house! I SO want to do this, but our cabinets have lots of exposed “ends” and “sides” that seem like they are laminate… The cabinet doors are wood, but do you know how I might tackle the sides? (does that make sense???). Thanks!!!

    1. C says:

      I have the same concern/question.

  54. lori says:

    Do you have to do anything to the clear coat on the oak cabinets? or are you just applying the stain straight on?

    Thank you, I hope this is as easy as it looks.

    1. Ashley says:

      I applied it right on top of the varnish. That’s what makes this so simple!!! (Make sure and click over to the other tutorial where I stained the banister…..more tips over there!)

  55. Christina says:

    It looks great! I love the darker stain so much better. Enjoy!

  56. Anonymous says:

    Nicely done! Did you use polyurethane after staining?

  57. jennifer says:

    So thankful for the gel stain recommendation! Just found a local store that carries it! Can’t wait to redo our stairs!

  58. Tracy says:

    This looks so good! Are you going to frame out the bathroom mirror with molding? It’s practically begging for it!

    1. C says:

      We framed out our bathroom mirror using a company called Mirror Mate. They do all of the cutting and it comes with adhesive to attach to the mirror. It comes in so many colors and completely changed the look of our bathroom. I just have to get up the guts to stain the vanity cabinet. Agree it would look great in this bathroom.

  59. H says:

    Similar question as someone else… Do you know if they have other stain colors – lighter ones? And do you think they would work to cover up the orange color as well?

    1. Steve (Mr. Make it and Love it) says:

      I believe they have multiple colors it just depends on whether or not the store you buy it from carries them. At the place we bought the stain from they had a display with the different colors available. So I would recommend taking a picture with you when you go and asking them. Good luck!

  60. Judy says:

    Hey girl…. Need to ask another question….I found a place that sells it but how much would I need….I have 2 bathroom vanities and then my kitchen cabinets….I could send you pics if you need to see…since I have to drive 30 min to get it I want to make sure I get enough.

    1. Steve (Mr. Make it and Love it) says:

      I would ask the place selling the stain to get an idea of how much you’ll need because it will depend on the size of your kitchen and bathroom cabinets. I would take pictures to show them with some rough measurements. That’s what we did and we were pretty spot on with the amount we needed. Good luck!

  61. heidimarie says:

    This looks absolutely amazing! I am so inspired by the transformations you’ve made in your home. I, too, have lots of orange woodwork. I have thought about painting it, but staining never occurred to me. Do you have to use a very dark stain for this to work? Do you think I could get the same results with a somewhat lighter stain? Or maybe the orange would still show through if the new stain wasn’t dark enough… Do you have any guidance or suggestions? Thanks!

    1. gus says:

      My 2 cents is:
      Going lighter will require sanding. However, I haven’t used gel stain to go lighter …yet. So this is just an educated guess from prior experience with regular oil base stains. I’ve got a control test setup on a client’s project for different options and am looking for a bleached oak or maple colored stain currently, The old color is walnut, so I’ll try a light gel stain on an un-sanded section and let you all know what the results were if they vary from my hypothesis. If I don’t come back, it didn’t work for s**t.

  62. Anonymous says:

    Would you mind telling where you got your bathroom light fixtures? Please and thank you!

  63. Alisha Roberts says:

    Your home has so many of the exact same issues as ours…that nasty orange oak EVERYWHERE, same light fixtures. You have giving me so much motivation to make the changes we’ve been dying to make for so long! Such simple low cost solutions! Thank you so so much for sharing these tips!

  64. Mindy says:

    Holla!!!!! I’ve been thinking of painting but this stain is awesome! And my house is full of those lovely, oak cabinets. Thank you!!

  65. Anonymous says:

    I too am so excited for this post! I used the Rust-oleum Cabinet Transformations kit a few years ago to paint my kitchen cabinets. It worked great and was also no sanding, but boy was it a lot of work. I can’t wait to try this on my bathroom cabinets. Looks so much easier. I also have the orange oak bannister rails and posts. But mine have the black iron rod ballisters. What color of gel stain would you recommend using?

    1. Chelsey z says:

      I did too! And I agree, it’s a LOT of work! But- like Ashley said, it made a huge difference. Love the new look!

  66. Erika says:

    I’m so excited for this post. I have an oak table and chairs I’ve been dying to get rid of or redo but the daunting task of staining the chairs and table has held me back. I was inspired to tackle it after your banister post and now I’m going to for sure!!

    1. Norma says:

      How did it go?

    2. Anonymous says:

      Did you go ahead with this? I’d like to do my table and chairs too. Any advice?

    3. Erika says:

      I did finally go ahead and stain my table a few weeks ago. It was SO easy and looked beautiful…until someone put a laptop on the table and the heat instantly (literally within minutes) left a white mark. Then over the next week everything that touched the table that had moisture in it or heat left a mark. I’m guessing it was the shellac I used to seal the top. I almost didn’t use it since most tutorials say it isn’t necessary, but the store owner uses the product all the time and said it was necessary for finishing a table top. We left on vacation right after it happened so I have yet to follow up too see if that was the issue. It only took part of a pint of stain to do my table (and chairs) so I have plenty left to redo a coat if that helps.

  67. FunKyChick says:

    Wow! The “new” cabinets look amazing. I hate oak and this is a good way to get rid of it.

    1. FunKyChick says:

      I didn’t even notice that you’d added the trim around the windows until I actually started reading. It looks great. I think a house looks so cheap without trim around the doors and windows.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I really like the carpet going up your staircase! What is name/brand/store purchased at?

  68. Ashley N says:

    You keep saying “How to stain your oak…” will the gel stain work on alder? It is the same orangey color, but it isn’t as porous as oak, do you think it will still work? Also, I just used a polyurethane top coat on some bedroom furniture and it had to be sanded afterward, did yours? BTW, it is beautiful, everything is so so pretty. I love the 5 panel doors, I just replaced all my doors and wish so bad i’d have gone with the 5 panel.

    1. Ashley says:

      You know, I’m not exactly sure……but I bet it would! I would try the stain in an inconspicuous spot first, just to see how it covers. You could always sand it off if you hated how it looked or if it didn’t stain well.

      Anyway, hope that helps and good luck!
      Ashley

  69. Krista Thompson says:

    Can you share the name and brand of your paint color next to the banister?! It looks exactly what I want to put in my new house!

    1. Ashley says:

      Sure, it’s Miner’s Dust by Dunn Edwards but I color matched it at Home Depot, using their Behr brand. It’s great paint! Kind of a warmer grey!

      Good luck!
      Ashley

  70. Ashley says:

    Our bathrooms looks so similar in set up, but our cabinets are white without woodgrain (does that make sense?) Do you think the gel stain would work on white glossy cabinets too?

    1. Ashley says:

      You know, I’m not sure it would. You can paint over stain and cover it up. But staining over paint doesn’t work the same way. Stain needs to soak into wood…..so unfortunately, you would probably have to sand or use a paint stripper before using the stain.

      Hope that helps!
      Ashley

    2. Barbara O'Brien says:

      your white cabinets are likely – or possible vinyl or ‘foil’ over wood. The stain would not go on well over that plastic

  71. Vickie says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Your cabinets looks wonderful and I am ready to attack my oak cabinets. Enjoy your creative day! ~ Vickie

    1. Ashley says:

      You’ve got this! It really does make a huge difference!

      Good luck!
      Ashley

    2. Anonymous says:

      Do you still need to put a clear coat on after

  72. Judy says:

    lov lov lov the stain….our cabinets are the same and I truly want to paint them….where did you get the paint????? Reallllly need to know…..

    1. Ashley says:

      It’s actually stain and goes on so much smoother than paint! In the tutorial above, there’s a link to the post where I stained my banister, which has all of the info on the stain. Here it is again: https://makeit-loveit.com/2015/01/how-to-stainpaint-an-oak-banister-the-shortcut-method-no-sanding-needed.html

      Good luck!
      Ashley

  73. Jenny says:

    Your oak transformation posts couldn’t be better timed. We just bought a house built in 1999 and it has oak EVERYTHING! Can’t wait to change it all. Thank you for making it easier for me.

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh gosh, ours was built in 2000……..so I COMPLETELY understand!!!

      Good luck!
      Ashley

    2. sharon says:

      Is the gel stain a certain brand? Thinking of doing our kitchen cabinets so we would stain all wood exposed correct?

    3. kim says:

      the brand is General Finishes

  74. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for sharing! We gave our basement bathroom an update, but just haven’t done the oak vanity yet… because I didn’t want the work of sanding! I’ll get on finishing it now that I know just what to do :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh yeah, skip the sanding and you’ll have this done this weekend. You’ll just need some time in between coats to let it dry, otherwise, this is a quick project!

      Good luck!
      Ashley

    2. kim says:

      I also did the gel stain except I used the Georgia cherry.. 3 coats and LOVE it!! super easy and they are beautiful

    3. C says:

      I would love to see a photo of something done with the Georgia cherry. It seems most people use Java and I’m afraid that might be too dark.

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Hi, I’m Ashley—the DIY-enthusiast behind this crazy blog!

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