Stained Cabinets: A 6-Month Update

March 26, 2013   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  4 responses

You guys, I’ve received a lot of emails about my stained kitchen cabinets since revealing the finished result last September, and I’m excited that many of you were so inspired by the oak cabinet transformation that you’re taking it on yourself. Your enthusiasm has been outstanding, I hope that those of you attempting staining at home are experiencing great results.

With that said, I owe you a quick 6-month update.

A stained oak kitchen transformation.

The PolyAcrylic overcoat has kept the cabinetry in our heavily used kitchen in really great shape; there are no dings, nicks, scratches, or wear on any of the drawers, door fronts, or frames. However, the angle of the above photo isn’t quite right to show some damage in the crevices of the door panels. We expect that a bit of natural expansion and contraction of the wooden doors over the fall and winter months occurred, cracking the finish in these tight little areas. It’s also fair to assume that these spots had the stain dried on a little thicker than the smooth door fronts, which also might have contributed to making it less able to adapt as the wood shifted subtly (it’s harder to wipe down in those little crevices with a rag or a sock or whatever you’re using to apply the stain).

What’s important to note is that it didn’t happen all over, only on 5 of the 15 doors, with the absolute worst case of chippy shown in the photo below which happened to be at eye height and so not easy to ignore. Luckily, it was easy to fix, a quick effort that I started and completed whilest my lunchtime veggie burger was grilling (so delicious).

Cracks in the stain on the doors caused by natural expansion and contraction of the oak.

I ran over the effected areas with a flathead screwdriver tip to lightly chisel, loosen, and chip away any remaining stain that was loose. The screwdriver head fit into the space better than a putty knife would have, but use what you will. I even ran over areas that were still perfectly in tact just to make sure the finish was solid, and the screwdriver didn’t loosen away anything that wasn’t already loose or daring to flake (it’s worth noting this only to demonstrate how well adhered the stain is to the original oak… it doesn’t scratch off easily).

I still had some General Finishes Gel stain (this kind) leftover from when I stained the cabinets originally, so I tapped into it with a fine craft brush, and carefully painted over the crevices that no longer had stain.

Cracks in the stain on the doors caused by natural expansion and contraction of the oak.

The problem areas were cured in a short half-hour with two quick coats of stain, and after they’re left to dry they would be ready to re-polyacrylic within a day. The patch polyacrylicing works well and blends in nicely with the rest of the finished cabinetry, it doesn’t end up looking like patchwork (I know this because I had to do a little bit of work after the new countertops were installed in November).

The photo above really makes the whole situation look dramatic, but you really had to be looking closely and at the right angle to spot the problem areas, as evidenced by this specific before and after photo:

Kitchen cabinet stain touchups

In regards to PolyAcrylic, I’m about to pull the amazon-order ripcord and buy a 1/2 pint of the matte polycrylic, because the satin I used is still so, so shiny, especially in the sunlight and in comparison to the matte acrylic countertop and matte tile floors.

Satin polycrylic: a little too shiny for our kitchen?

And if the matte blows, I still have enough satin polyacrylic to bring it back to it’s current state. Sometimes home improvement is just about trial and error.

Has anyone reading this followed my tutorial and tried gel stain in your own project? Please share photos!

Looking for the Gel Stain that I used to stain the kitchen cabinets? I could not find it in stores, and my best resource was General Finishes via Amazon. Learn more about the product and purchase it for yourself right here

Makeover your kitchen with this (honest!) tutorial on how to use gel stain to refinish your cabinets.

  • Katie Warner
    5 years ago - Reply

    They still look great!
    I’m getting ready to do mine and was excited to a see a long term update!

    • Emily
      5 years ago -

      Glad you liked them, Katie!

  • Tracey
    4 years ago - Reply

    Beautiful work! So…What happened when you applied the matte poly? I have the same problem so I HAVE to know if the matte poly toned down the shininess.

    • Emily
      4 years ago -

      We unfortunately moved before I had the chance to test out the matte! So sad. I still wonder how much different it would look. If the cabinets ever need touchups (it’s our rental property now) I might try it out and see how it looks.

Leave a Comment