How do you remove a lacquer stain from kitchen cabinets?

Lynette Trejo
by Lynette Trejo
I hired a painter to stain my oak cabinets a darker stain, not wanting to paint them. The lacquer turned out very uneven and I want to remove it and start over. Does anyone have recommendations for the best and safest process for removing lacquer? Can the wood be restained successfully after removing the lacquer? I am going from originally honey oak to a dark walnut.
Uneven coloring, super dark almost painted look on the left, horizontal and vertical striping in the center.
Darker on right, and pantry door
  7 answers
  • Landsharkinnc Landsharkinnc on Aug 19, 2017

    Citristrip is low odor, non toxic. Stripping is labor intensive but unless you paint this is your only option to keep the wood looking like wood

  • Bobbie Bobbie on Aug 19, 2017

    How to Remove Lacquer Finishes from Furniture |

  • Barb Barb on Aug 19, 2017

    Geez it sounds like the guy I hired 15 years ago, and I ended up have to refaced the entire kitchen after attempting to fix the bad job and hiring another contractor to fix his past job That the only option left was paint or facelift. Your cupboards must be real wood like mine were and I hate to tell you that paint or refacing is going to be your only option, don't throw anymore money away.

    • Lynette Trejo Lynette Trejo on Aug 22, 2017

      trying to avoid refacing, though I know they can turn out looking very nice. Mine are real solid oak cabinets and I hate the idea of painting them!

  • Woo28198484 Woo28198484 on Aug 19, 2017

    Stripping is NOT your only option. It's simply the first step. After using you choice of stripper, you can have success by some earnest sanding with a RANDOM ORBITAL sander. This is important, the type of sander, that is. Be sure to start with 80 grit and work thru the different grits in ascending order. Have done this in cabinet shops many times. It works, just takes a lot of patience to get it looking acceptable.

  • Contact a local licensed experienced cabinetmaker. He or she will explain the different types of wood and how stain is applied and accepted into the different types of wood showing the grain. What you do not like can be typical of wood with a lot of grain. If you do not like the look and want an even flat appearance, use paint instead. Or change the doors, then stain. Keep in mind there is "paint grade" lumber and "stain grade" lumber. Huge difference between the two.

  • Sharon Sharon on Aug 20, 2017

    How to remove....

    Test one with gel stain when you've cleaned it, and Rustoleum makes a kit to darken cabinets. I would take the doors down and lay them flat to get the most even result.

  • who applied the lacquer? if he did, did you pay him in full? What do you want to do w/these? stain them again? the only way to do it is to fully strip off the lacquer and the existing stain. It's a huge undertaking and these cabinets really aren't worth the trouble. Just paint them. They'll look better than staining.