How to Refinish Pressboard Cabinets

Ryan Lawrence

Also known as particle board, pressboard is composed of wood chunks and shavings. These particles are bound together by a liquid resin that hardens everything together into an engineered wood product. If you'd like to refinish your pressboard cabinets, you'll have to contend with a particular complication.

Liquid stain dries unevenly on pressboard.

While stain absorbs evenly into softwood cabinets, it does not absorb well into the resins within pressboard. Combat this by applying a slow-absorbing gel-based stain that will promote more uniform results.

  1. Place canvas dropcloths beneath the pressboard cabinets. Carefully apply painter's tape to every area running next to the pressboard.

  2. Put on a respirator and rubber gloves. Open windows and doors.

  3. Lighten the existing stain by wiping the pressboard with acetone, using nylon pads. Continue until the existing finish has lightened at least slightly. Leave the room before removing your respirator. Wait two hours for the acetone to completely evaporate.

  4. Choose the right stain for this type of project. Liquid stains absorb poorly into pressboard; slow-absorbing gel stains are a better choice.

  5. Coat the pressboard cabinets with gel stain, using a natural China-bristled paintbrush. Wipe the wet gel stain from the pressboard before it has a chance to dry.

  6. Wash your brush with fresh, clean mineral spirits.

  7. Let the cabinets dry for three hours. Apply a solvent-based wood sealer, using the clean China brush.

  8. Tip

    You don't have to apply a wood sealer; however, it will contribute to a longer-lasting finish.