How to Stain Maple Cabinets

What You'll Need
Painter's tape
Drop cloth
Work area
220-grit sandpaper
Vinyl sealer
Tack cloth
2 spray bottles

Maple cabinets are very hard to stain due to the very tight grain pattern found in maple. This does not mean it is impossible, but maple cabinets are prone to blotching. Usually, maple cabinets are already stained when you purchase them as well as finished. That does not mean you can't opt for natural maple cabinets and do the staining yourself. The process is more involved than you may initially anticipate. When dealing with maple cabinets that are finished and stained, you can simply follow the basics for sanding and staining. If, however, you want to take on the project of staining raw maple cabinets, then follow the information in this article.

Step 1 - Remove the Cabinets

If there are drawers, then pull them out and remove them. Use the screwdriver to remove the screws holding the cabinet doors on the frame, then remove the hardware from the doors. If you have many drawers and doors, then consider marking the pieces with masking tape and noting where they belong as you remove them. Tape and place the drop cloth where you need to protect your counters, walls or floors.

Step 2 - Prep the Maple

For this step, you should be in a ventilated area as well as make use of goggles and a face mask. Use the sandpaper and sand down the surfaces to be stained. You want to be certain that the surfaces are level and have no splinters, bumps, or very noticeable pot marks. Vacuum the outside and inside of the cabinets and wipe down all surfaces with the tack cloth.

Step 3 - Pop the Grain

If you want a darker finish on your maple cabinets, then you will need to use a grain popper. This chemical essentially causes the pores in the wood to open, which allows for better stain infiltration. Mix one part water with one part methanol. Fill the spray bottle with this solution and let it soak into the grain.

Step 4 - Make an Even Surface

The tight grain in the maple wood means the stain will be uneven. There is a way to fix this problem. You will need to apply a "light wash" to the maple cabinets. Mix one part of the vinyl sealer with five parts acetone. The more vinyl sealer you add, the more uniform the staining. Mix this in a bowl and use a brush to apply to the maple cabinets.

Step 5 - Stain the Maple Cabinets

Shake the can of stain very well before opening. When you apply the stain, make sure that you use a brush of very high quality. The last thing you want is to have brush bristles stuck in the stain. Apply the stain to the maple cabinets in sections with even strokes. Let the stain dry for a day before applying a layer of polyurethane to seal the wood. The polyurethane will take up to two days to dry. Once dry, you can replace the doors and drawers.