Refinished Bathroom Cabinet

I have to say that one of my favorite things to experiment with is updating builder grade yellow oak cabinets - whether in kitchens or bathrooms, I think there are so many things you can do to take them from builder-blah to updated and modern.

I've already tried a couple of techniques:  If you haven't already checked out the post on my stain test, click here.  It includes step by step photos and instructions on how I used stain to update the doors of our bathroom vanity.  You can also read more about how we used moulding a paint to upgrade another vanity here.

Here's a before shot of the bathroom.

Here's a shot with the original cabinet color.

For the frames of the vanity, I used 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface.  Then I applied one coat of General Finishes Antique Walnut Gel Stain with a foam brush.  Your first coat will come out a little blotchy but be sure to give your cabinets a good even coat.

Once that dried, I applied a coat of Rustoleum Stain in Carrington with a foam brush.  The actual color is much closer to the reddish brown color in the image below.  Sometimes in photos the stain comes across as espresso when in person it's more of a rich brown with a tint of red.

I also stained the remaining two doors, but this time only used one coat of gel stain and applied both coats of stain with a foam brush.

This project was very easy - I would say that even a novice could take it on!  If you feel uncomfortable, try it on a bathroom vanity (start with the back of a door).  If you hate the way it turns out, you can always paint over it!

Here's a final shot of the vanity with the doors installed.  I absolutely love the outcome and hope to apply the same technique to our kitchen cabinets in the fall.


  1. Thanks for the inspiration! I decided to gel stain my kitchen cabinets, but in Brown Mahogany instead. You can see the before and after pics here:

  2. Did you do a coat of polyurethane as well? Or just the gel stain?

    1. Yes, I used Minwax polycrylic as the top coat to protect the finish. I usually do two coats. Thanks for visiting!

  3. I'm confused, was the Carrington a gel stain also or a regular oil based stain. I thought oil stain couldn't go over previously stained wood.

    1. Yes, it is an oil based stain. However since I used the gel stain as the base coast, the Carrington stain was able to be used over top almost like a semi transparent paint. It sticks to the wood surface because of the gel stain beneath it. Does that help?

  4. Hello - the cabinets look great! Were you able to purchase just the Rustoleum stain some place? Or did you have to purchase the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformation "kit" to get the stain? I live in BC, Canada and can only find the "kits", not just the stain. I don't need all the products that come in the kit. BD


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