How much does it cost to stain kitchen cabinets?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to stain kitchen cabinets?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to stain kitchen cabinets?

$4 – $15average cost per square foot
$1,500 – $4,500average total cost

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$4 – $15 average cost per square foot

$1,500 – $4,500 average total cost

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Kristen Cramer
Written by
Kristen Cramer
Edited by
Sarah Noel
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Tom Grupa

Cost to stain kitchen cabinets

The cost to stain cabinets is $4 to $15 per square foot or $1,500 to $4,500 total for an average kitchen. Re-staining costs depend on the number of cabinets, wood type, amount of sanding labor, and whether staining the cabinets darker or lighter. Staining is a type of cabinet refinishing.

Cost to stain cabinets
>Kitchen size Square footage Average cost to stain
Small kitchen 70 – 100 $900 – $2,500
Average kitchen 100 – 200 $1,500 – $4,500
Large kitchen 200+ $3,000 – $6,000

Labor cost to stain cabinets

Labor makes up 60% to 80% of the total refinishing cost. Labor costs may increase for cabinets with complex layouts, tight angles, or detailed carvings that make sanding and staining more difficult.

Cabinet staining cost factors
Factor Cost per square foot Average total cost
Stain materials & supplies $1.60 – $3.00 $600 – $900
Labor cost to stain $2.40 – $12.00 $900 – $3,600
Total cost to stain $4.00 – $15.00 $1,500 – $4,500

The following factors affect the cost:

  • Project size – Larger kitchens with more cabinets cost more to stain. However, the cost per square foot may be higher for small kitchens due to minimum project fees.

  • Cabinet material – Some woods are more difficult to stain or require extra sanding, increasing labor costs.

  • Color – Staining cabinets a different color increases the labor time because the previous stain must be completely removed, requiring extra stripping and sanding. Going from a lighter to a darker color requires less labor than going from a darker to a lighter color.

  • Finish type – High-quality stains that are more resistant to fading and scratching typically cost more.

  • Cabinet hardware – New cabinet hardware costs $6 to $60 per piece installed, depending on the material and style.

  • Preparation & repairs – Kitchen cabinet repair costs $120 to $600 on average, depending on the amount of damage.

A kitchen with newly stained cabinets.
A kitchen with newly stained cabinets.

Cabinet stain materials prices

Cabinet stain costs $12 to $20 per quart to cover 125 to 150 square feet of cabinet surface with 1 coat.

Pre-stain wood conditioner costs $18 to $20 per quart to cover 125 to 150 square feet with 1 coat. Wood conditioner is only necessary for cabinets that have never been stained.

Staining vs. painting vs. refinishing cabinets cost

Refinishing cabinets by staining them is typically cheaper than painting or refacing them, as shown by the table below:

Cost of staining vs. painting, refacing, or replacing cabinets
Service Average cost Description
Staining / cabinet refinishing $1,500 – $4,500
  • Sanding and stripping the existing stain or paint, then applying a new stain
  • Allows the wood grain to show
  • Only available in neutral colors and wood tones
Painting cabinets cost $2,000 – $6,500
  • Sanding and stripping the existing stain or paint, then applying new paintH
  • ides most of the wood grain
  • Many color options available
Cabinet refacing cost $5,000 – $13,000
  • Replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts
  • Covering the cabinet boxes with a laminate or wood veneer
  • Many color options available
Cabinet replacement cost $4,500 – $15,000
  • Replacing the entire cabinet boxes, doors, and drawer fronts
  • Replacing the cabinet hardware
  • Many styles and color options available

Refinish cabinets

The cost to refinish cabinets is $4 to $15 per square foot on average. Staining is the most common refinishing method. After staining, contractors may apply a clear varnish topcoat to protect the wood. However, not all wood requires varnish.

Glazing kitchen cabinets costs $10 to $25 per square foot. Glazing involves applying a semi-transparent color on top of the stain to accentuate the corners and details.

DIY cost to stain cabinets yourself

The cost to stain cabinets yourself is $100 to $250 on average for the stain and supplies.

Supplies needed include:

  • Interior wood stain

  • Sandpaper

  • Foam brush

  • Drop cloths to protect the floor and countertops

  • Gloves

  • White cotton rags or old white cotton t-shirts

  • Screwdriver to remove cabinet doors and hinges

  • Painter’s tape

  • Vacuum to clean the sawdust

  • Tack cloth to pick up stray wood dust

  • Pre-stain wood conditioner if cabinets have never been stained before

  • Optionally, an electric sander

Staining kitchen cabinets FAQs

How long does it take to stain cabinets?

Staining cabinets takes 3 to 5 days for a small or medium-sized kitchen and up to 7 days for a large kitchen or cabinets with intricate designs. These time frames include the drying time before contractors can stain the other side of cabinet doors and drawers, plus reattaching hardware.

Do you stain the inside of kitchen cabinets?

No, you do not stain the inside of kitchen cabinets. However, contractors typically stain the inside of cabinet doors because the surface is more visible when the doors are open.

Can all cabinets be re-stained?

Solid wood and wood veneer cabinets can be stained. Laminate and Thermofoil cabinets don’t absorb regular wood stains and require a special gel stain instead.

Getting estimates from cabinet staining contractors

When hiring a cabinet painter or cabinet refinishing contractor near you, be sure to:

  • Get at least three estimates from businesses with 5+ years of experience.

  • Select licensed, insured, and bonded companies.

  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.

  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.

  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.

  • Never pay in full before the project starts.

Questions to ask

  • How many cabinet staining projects have you worked on?

  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?

  • Do you have a portfolio of before-and-after photos I can review?

  • Can you provide contact information for references?

  • Do you recommend staining my cabinets or replacing them instead, and why?

  • Which stain do you recommend, and why?

  • Does the estimate include new hardware?

  • Does the estimate include cleanup?

  • How long will the project take?

  • How will you protect the rest of my home from dust while sanding the cabinets?

  • Do you offer a warranty, and if so, what does it include?