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How to Apply Stain to Imitation Oak Cabinets in Mobile Homes

Jack Stone

Mobile homes can provide a sense of comfort and security in a small area. Applying a new layer of stain to cabinets in mobile homes is a great way to spruce up the look of the home and make it feel fresh or new.

Because many mobile home cabinets are made of cheaper wood, such as imitation oak, you should follow a few different steps when staining.

  1. Decide on the stain's color. If your cabinets are a natural oak color, determine how you want them to ultimately look. Assess the home's decorative scheme, and find a stain that will mesh with the rest of the interior. Steer away from more striking colors, such as dark cherry red or chocolate brown; they might work well on quality woods but will not likely look good on imitation oak.

  2. Detach drawers and doors. If the cabinets are made of particleboard or a similar cheap wood, you will likely have trouble unscrewing hinges or knobs and screwing them back once the job is done. To produce better results, remove the screws and hinges from the doors and drawers; fill the holes with caulk, and sand them down to the appropriate level (see Reference 1).

  3. Prepare the cabinets. Many mobile home comes with a vinyl finish layer. To apply stain correctly, sand down the vinyl finish so that the stain has something to stick to. Using a fine- or medium-grit sandpaper, rub the surfaces of the cabinets well until the surface is fairly smooth but with a slight roughness. Stop sanding before you sand through the vinyl (see Reference 2). Sand the rest of the cabinets, including corners, edges and decorative ridges, to remove any splinters or blemishes.

  4. Stain and reassemble the cabinets. Apply a layer of stain to the surface of all the cabinets with smooth, steady strokes of a paintbrush. Because ample space and ventilation are not common in mobile homes, open windows to allow the stain to air out. Once finished staining, allow the cabinets to dry for 24 hours; if desired, coat with a few layers of protective coating. Reassemble the drawers and doors, and put the cabinets back together.

  5. Tip

    Some mobile home cabinets are not made of wood at all; the wood-looking finish is simply a laminate design pasted on particle board. These cabinets will never look appropriate when stained, so consider sanding them down and applying layers of paint to the surface (see Reference 2).