Posted on: 26.10.2022 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

Your latest home project involves your beautiful wooden kitchen cabinets. You want to ensure that your cabinets, as well as the hardwood trim in your home, match each other. But how does one go about doing a DIY project to precisely match the stain color of cabinets?

Here’s how to precisely match the stain color of cabinets:

  1. Sand with the right grit sandpaper.
  2. Determine the desired finish.
  3. Select the right stain.
  4. Create stain color samples before staining your cabinets.
  5. Stain the cabinets.

Read on to learn more about how you can ensure that the stain color of your cabinets matches and doesn’t become a noticeable eyesore. With good intuition, a little creativity, and careful, meticulous work, these tips will help you achieve the professional-looking result you desire.

1. Sand with the right grit sandpaper

When applying a wood stain, you need to use the right grit. Sanding too coarsely will create larger pores and a rougher surface, which can result in a darker appearance when the stain penetrates into the larger pores. Conversely, sanding with too fine a grit will lead to smaller pores that won’t absorb the pigments of your chosen stain.

How to sand the wooden cabinets

First, you’ll want to remove the old stain (if present) with 40-60 grit sandpaper. Then, move on to 80 grit and finish with 120-150 grit sandpaper.

Generally, the ideal grit for finishing wood stains falls in the range of 120-150 grit. Using this range and staying within it will allow for even distribution of the pigments of your wooden cabinets.

When sanding your cabinets, make sure to work in the same direction as the grain of the wood. You want to avoid swirl marks that can result in flaws in the material surface.

Once you’ve finished sanding, use a tack cloth to remove all dust before staining to ensure even coverage.

Best products for sanding wooden cabinets offers a variety of sandpaper and grit options for this type of project. Consider these:

  • Arilier Sandpaper Grit 60: This is a pack of 12 sheets of 9 x 11-inch (22.86 x 27.94 cm) advanced white fused aluminum oxide sandpaper that is efficient and durable.
  • AUSTOR Sandpaper Roll Grit 80: This sandpaper roll is 5 meters long and 93 mm wide (16 feet x 4 inches). It can be folded, torn, or cut to size for convenience. This product advertises that it won’t fall apart or tear during use.
  • LANHU 120 Grit Multipurpose Sandpaper: This pack of 25 sheets, measuring 9 x 3.6 inches (22.86 x 9.14 cm), can be cut to any smaller size if needed. They are made of waterproof silicon carbide and electro-coated to ensure even grit distribution. This is the ideal sandpaper for polishing, buffing, and finishing woodworking projects.
  • Liyafy 150 Grit Sponge Emery Cloth Sandpaper Blocks: This set of six sanding blocks uses small aluminum oxide emery and is washable, reusable, and wear-resistant. These are great for polishing wood and other materials that require a fine sanding.
  • Warner Sanding Block: This sandpaper accessory works with standard sandpaper sizes to provide the user with a good grip for sanding corners, curves, and flat surfaces.
  • STEAD & FAST Tack Cloth: This pack is ideal for finishing projects and consists of 15 individually wrapped cloths, each measuring 18 x 36 inches (45.72 x 91.44 cm) and made of a gold-colored cheesecloth. These tack cloths are silicone-free, wax-free, and antistatic, ensuring dust is captured without leaving residues on sanding projects.
  • Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner: Some softwoods, such as pine, can become blotchy even when properly sanded. You can use a wood conditioner to open up the pores for even staining results. This is an option for achieving uniform stain penetration and avoiding blotching and streaking. Wood can be stained immediately after application.

You can even download a free app from the Apple Store called Stain & Seal Experts. This app offers service and support in calculating the labor required for various staining projects.

2. Determine the desired finish

Finishes add some color to your stained project. You’ll need to determine whether you’ll be using oil-based polyurethane, water-based polyurethane, wax, oil, etc. In general, popular oil-based polyurethanes provide a warm, amber-like color to your work and are available in matte, satin, and glossy finishes. Polyurethane alternatives are clear and provide cool tones to a finished stain and may also be available in matte, satin, or glossy finishes.

Types of finishes

The purpose of your cabinets and the look you ultimately prefer can help guide you in deciding which finish will best suit your needs.

  • Matte finish: This type of finish absorbs light rather than reflecting it, potentially hiding small imperfections and flaws. This surface is not as durable and is generally recommended for bedrooms and offices where they can be easily repaired. A matte finish on wood projects looks like natural wood.
  • Satin finish: This finish can be described as silky or velvety. It is very durable and suitable for high-traffic areas. This finish doesn’t reflect as much light as a glossy finish but more than a matte finish. Brushstrokes and other imperfections are more noticeable with this alternative. This finish is commonly used for hardwood floors.
  • Glossy (or semi-gloss) finish: This option is much more durable than matte and satin. It can withstand moisture better, making it an ideal choice for kitchens and bathrooms. This type of finish reflects a lot of light and shows every imperfection, meaning you’ll need to do an excellent job of sanding. It’s a popular choice for wood tabletops and kitchen cabinets as it’s easy to scrub and resistant to mold.

3. Select the right stain

There are a variety of stain brands to choose from. Consider the stated drying times to see what works best for you.

When selecting, most brands offer a color chip fan or sample that you can refer to.

You’ll need a sample piece of wood or take a portion of the cabinet wood with you to the hardware store or paint shop. Wood cells can vary from tree to tree, even within the same species. So if you can use the same wood from your project, you’ll get the best match.

Hold the color chips next to your home sample and look at two things:

  • Grain color: The grain may be influenced by how it’s cut from the tree trunk. When a stain is applied, the grain pattern stands out. Pay attention to the color of the “lines” or “stripes” in the wood. Different wood species have different grain patterns, but it’s the color that you’re noting here.
  • Sapwood color: This is the other part of the wood—the area between the “lines.” This color is lighter than the grain color.

Your wood consists of these two parts, and you’ll need to match both to get the right stain color, which may require using more than one stain. Your keen eye needs to come into play here, so don’t be afraid to ask the store’s employees for help and opinions.

4. Create stain color samples before staining your cabinets

You’ll need to mix stains if you can’t find the perfect match straight out of the can.

Make sure to shake and mix the individual paint colors before combining. Consider buying small cans first so you can experiment a bit.

Write down the ratios and quantities when mixing to ensure you can repeat it once you find the right match. You’ll want to measure your ingredients with precision measuring tools like spoons or cups.

Test your mixtures on separate wood samples made from the same material as your cabinets. If you don’t have extra pieces of wood, you can test the color directly on the cabinet as long as you choose an inconspicuous spot or the underside/back that won’t be visible on the finished project.

Before applying your mixtures, sand your wood samples in the same manner as your cabinets to achieve the same results.

Start experimenting

If possible, use the same lighting conditions when matching stains. Colors can appear differently under neon lighting compared to natural sunlight or incandescent or LED bulbs. Use the same lighting conditions that the cabinets will be in.

  • Apply the stain generously and evenly, and wipe it off with a clean cloth after three to five seconds. For deeper penetration, let it sit for up to 15 minutes. Note the timing you use for each sample.
  • You may find these Arkwright T-Shirt Rags on Amazon as a good option for applying stains. This 5-pound box of clean rags comes in a user-friendly dispenser box. They are great for staining, with their lint-free knit, and can be disposed of after use. These rags are also machine washable if you use them for cleaning tasks around the house.
  • Start with one coat, let it dry, and see if it matches. Chances are, it won’t until you apply the finish of your choice. Take note of how many coats you apply and which finish matches.
  • You can also sand the finish gently with 120-150 grit sandpaper. Wipe it with a damp cloth soaked in mineral spirits thinner like the U.S. Art Supply Odorless Mineral Spirits Thinner (also available on Amazon) between multiple coats to achieve an extra smooth finish. This mineral spirits works well with oil-based products like paints, stains, and varnishes. Make sure to remove sanding dust before applying the next coat.
  • Try tinting polyurethane to get an exact match to your cabinets. If you’re trying to match it with a different, older, and already stained wood, you may find the process more challenging. This is because oil-based polyurethane can yellow and become more opaque with age, resulting in a freshly stained piece that doesn’t match the color of a 20-year-old finish.
  • To remedy this, you can try adding up to 10% stain to the polyurethane; however, it may cause adhesion issues if you go over that amount. Since water and oil don’t mix, you only want to mix oil-based products together.

Patience and perseverance are key here. Keep mixing and combining until you find the right tones and colors.

5. Stain the cabinets

Now that you’ve found the right match, apply the same sanding, mixing, application, and finishing techniques to coat each cabinet. Follow the instruction labels for safety, drying time, and cleanup.

If you still don’t feel confident enough to precisely match the color of your cabinet stains, you can always continue to learn more about the topic by gathering additional information from a wider range of sources.

For example, you can always speak with someone at your local hardware store to get additional support. They are well-versed in their products and can help you find what best suits your needs. You can also check out these videos on YouTube:

  • How to Choose a Wood Stain | Matching Wood Stains: This video focuses on how to match wood stain color to precisely what you need. It also describes how to avoid red and orange undertones, as well as tips on mixing and matching shades within your home. Watch it here:

  • How To: Stain Matching Process: This video explores how a company helps its customers find the right stain match. Interestingly, this video talks about factors that may affect or hinder the proper matching, which you may find interesting to learn and consider in your own work. Watch it here:


Each seemingly small but meticulous and essential step can make a big difference in learning how to precisely match the stain color of cabinets. Learning about the differences in your wood, how to sand, and how to apply mixtures in the same lighting conditions can leave a significant visual impact.

When you nail the color match of your cabinet stain, you’ll feel good and fulfilled with a sense of pride as you showcase it in your home for family and guests to enjoy. The effort will be worth it.

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