How To Sand Cabinets for Staining

Nothing is inexpensive like staining your cabinet. It is an easier way of turning your cabinets into something warmer and beautiful. Besides, it makes the cabinet look more modern. However, you need to ensure that you have the appropriate tools to acquire incredible performance. You can achieve all these at home without needing a professional. Therefore, if you are worried because you do not know how to sand your cabinet for sanding, worry no more because this article has you covered. Before you commence sanding your cabinet for staining, you need to have the correct equipment, such as:

  • Drip cloth
  • Wood scraps
  • Foam brush
  • Sanding pad
  • Philip screwdriver
  • Foam brush
  • Tack cloth
  • White cotton rags
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Wood stain
  • Pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Drip cloth
how to sand cabinets for staining

Here is an overview of easy tips to guide you on transforming your entire cabinets into an impressive showpiece through the staining process:

Prepare the cabinet surface

To sand the cabinet for staining, you need to ensure that you do the necessary preparation. It would help if you unscrewed the fittings and hinges of the wood cabinet. Similarly, you need to use a system to ensure that the hinge screw and door handle you remove go back to their respective places. Bear in mind that multiple people utilize ziplock bags to separate the hardware.

Suppose you come across an adjustment screw, which is usually used to make adjustments to your cabinet door as well as shelves. It would be better not to remove it from where it is situated. After ensuring that you have disassembled your cabinet properly, go ahead and protect your work area and home using the appropriate coverings. Besides, you can opt to use drop cloths or even layers of old newspapers. This is a good way of protecting your home from stains as well as dust. On the other hand, you need to ensure that your phone has proper ventilation, making you feel safer.

Sand the wood

Ideally, you must sand your wood cabinets before you proceed to staining. Many unfinished products are usually oak or even birch. However, birch cabinets usually feature fine grain. Most of the time, they are usually painted, but stains guarantee them a superb impression. Whether you buy an oak or bitch cabinet, you need to prepare before you start staining. Furthermore, you have to commence by sanding the wood slightly using 120-grit sandpaper. Ensure that you function in the same direction as the grain because you are likely to get scratches.

After that, use 220-grit sandpaper to achieve the second sanding. This sandpaper has a finer design to eliminate any given scratches that may have been resulted from the 120-grit sandpaper. It also offers the wood a smooth finish. Therefore, you must know that your end product will be as smooth as the top of your wood. Some users prefer using a manual sanding block, while some homeowners use the electric sander for this specific project. All this is appropriate if you familiarize yourself with what you want at the end of the day. When finalizing this step, ensure that you accomplish your sanding efficiently.

Prepare for staining by vacuuming away the sawdust

It is a must that after sanding, you will have a lot of sawdust from your wood. Therefore, use the shop vacuum to ensure that you vacuum up any dust from sanding. When you finish, use the tack cloth to get rid of the remaining dust without imposing a lot of pressure on your cabinet. Bear in mind that a tack cloth is a unique sticky cloth. You can source from any given hardware store, and they are designed to get up the stray wood dust without scratching or damaging the surface of the wood. The cabinet requires sufficient care to prevent it from any damages.

Likewise, you can use wood scraps of the same size to prop your cabinet door up to prevent it from coming into contact with your drop cloth directly. When you do this, you are likely to easily paint the sides and the top of your cabinet door. You can also opt to use other objects, like unwanted compact items or large stones of the same size.

Apply the wood conditioner

After ensuring that there are no traces of dust, proceed and apply the wood conditioner using your cotton rags. In most cases, it is appropriate that you cut the white cotton rug into at most 6-inch square. On the other hand, you can utilize an old white shirt, but you must make sure that you cut it into a 6-inch square. When you are set, apply the pre-stain wood conditioner to your rugs and saturate them efficiently. To make the application process easier, you can decide to ball up your rags. Ensure that the conditioner reaches down your cabinet, ensuring that you apply it in the entire area of your wood area that needs to be stained.

Remember, it does not limit you to be super neat. However, ensure that there is plenty of it to reach the entire places that require to be stained. When you are through, leave it for at most 15 to 20 minutes, use a clean cotton rag to wipe off excess wood conditioner. You must understand that a single coat of the wood conditioner is usually enough. However, if you will you need the second coat, feel free to apply.

Apply the wood stain

Once you are through, apply the wood stain color to your cabinets using the foam brush. On the other hand, you can use painter tape to mask off some of the areas of your cabinet that you do not need to stain because there is no reverse once you acquire the stain color, especially on the unwanted part of your cabinetry. If possible, it would be better to apply this stain in the direction of the grain, but it is not easy to determine the direction of the grains since they do not have a brushstroke behind them. After applying the stain, give it five minutes and use a cotton rag to eliminate the excess stain. You can also leave it for over five minutes, but it will likely get darker if you leave it for a longer duration.

Ideally, it is appropriate to ensure that you several coats of stain and observe whether the wood color will be sufficient darker after each coat of five minutes. If you follow this procedure, you will slowly darken your wood cabinet without making it excessively dark that how you needed it. When your cabinet acquires the appropriate shade of color, allow it to dry averagely for 4 to 5 hours. After that, confirm whether it is dry. If it is dry, turn it and flip it and stain the other side.

Apply the stain finish

Most of the time, we are always interested in the cabinet’s beauty, and in this last step, you must use an excellent stain finish to give your cabinet a sweet impression. You can take one of your cotton rags, soak it in a polyurethane finish product and apply it on the stained surface. Ensure that it reaches the entire crannies and nooks of your wood design. This will give you a whole saturated cabinet. Make sure after finishing, sand your wood lightly using 220-grit sandpaper. Repeat at least 3 to 4 times until you achieve what you need. Likewise, after applying the final coat, leave it at that point.

When you are through, apply the finishing coat and ensure that you leave your wood to dry according to the instructions given on the bottle. You must know that stain finishes vary in the duration they take to dry. Some have the potential to dry faster, while others take some good duration to dry.


With the steps above, you must have noticed that it is not tough to sand cabinets for staining. This comprehensive post will guide you on how to sand your cabinet as well as stain. Furthermore, it is an effective and cheap way to acquire a remarkable impression of your unfinished cabinet or old cabinet in your home.

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