How to Sand & Restain Bathroom Cabinets

Bathroom cabinets, particularly those in older houses, are often sturdy enough to survive several renovations and remodels.

Use new hardware to dress up your refinished cabinets.Use new hardware to dress up your refinished cabinets.
Instead of replacing your cabinets when you're redoing your bathroom, try simply sanding and restaining them to create a new look. With a few hours and a little elbow grease, you will have cabinets that look like you just put them in.

Remove all doors, drawers and drawer fronts from the cabinet framing. Set aside hinges and screws if you plan to use them on the refinished cabinets. Unscrew and remove all door and drawer handles. Recycle them if you plan to use new hardware, or set them aside if you want to reinstall them.

Spread out the cabinet doors and drawer faces on a large, flat surface with plenty of ventilation. A patch of grass or an open garage are suitable. Lay out a drop cloth or old sheet to protect the surface underneath.

Wipe the cabinets doors, drawers and framing clean with a damp cloth. If necessary, use a mild wood cleaner to remove difficult spots. Let them dry.

Sand the doors, drawer fronts and framing with 120-grit sandpaper. Work with the grain of the wood in smooth, even strokes. Once the finish has been removed, go over the exposed areas lightly with 220-grit sandpaper. The wood should be free of scuffs and rough spots.

Vacuum the wood with a shop vac or vacuum cleaner extension to remove sanding dust. Wipe all grooves and surfaces with a clean soft cloth to remove any remaining dust.

Apply your choice of stain to the doors and drawers with a paintbrush or clean cloth, working the stain into the grain of the wood. Always work in the direction of the wood grain. Wipe away excess stain with a cloth. Keep the doors flat while you stain them to prevent drips.

Stain the exposed wood of the cabinet framing the same way you stained the drawers and doors.

Add a second coat of stain to both the doors and the framing, if desired. A second coat of stain will yield a darker finish. Follow the instructions on the can to ensure proper drying time between coats.

Apply a clear finish to the surfaces once the cabinets have had time to dry thoroughly.

Reattach the doors and drawer fronts. If you wish, replace the old hardware with new hardware as a finishing touch.

Things You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Drop cloth or old sheet
  • Several clean cloths
  • Mild wood cleaner
  • Sandpaper -- 120 grit and 220 grit
  • Shop vac or vacuum cleaner
  • Wood stain
  • Paintbrush
  • Clear coat designed for wood

About the Author

Tiffany Bennett is a recent graduate from Toccoa Falls College. While earning her degree in counseling and psychology, she discovered that she enjoys various forms of writing. She is currently living in Athens, Ga., and looking forward to beginning a graduate degree program in international affairs at the University of Georgia.