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How to 'pickle' oak bathroom cabinets in 5 easy steps

by Aretha Grant

Pickling, also known as liming, is a great option for those oak bathroom cabinets in need of a pick-me-up. Most home improvement stores carry a version of stain called "pickled oak." You can also make your own pickling "stain" by thinning down a can of latex paint about 25 to 50 percent with water.

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Pickling oak bathroom cabinets in 5 easy steps

  1. Clean cabinet surfaces: Use Trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove grime. If you're pickling unfinished oak bathroom cabinets, simply wipe down with a damp sponge. Follow up with a light hand-sanding, using 120-grit sandpaper.

  2. Apply stain: Brush the stain on with a clean, dry brush. Next, wipe the stain off in the direction of the wood grain with a clean, dry cloth. Take care to remove any excess that has gathered in corners or grooves.

  3. Add clear-coat: Use a non-yellowing clear-coat for this step, such as clear-bond shellac. Apply two thin layers of the clear-coat with a clean brush. Allow ample time to dry between coats.

  4. Apply BIN shellac: Adding this pigmented shellac is recommended only if you want to brighten your pickle job. If you want to achieve a "dusty" look, skip this step. Apply the BIN shellac with a clean dry brush, as you did the clear coat.

  5. Allow to dry overnight: Stop right there! Don't touch a door, not even a handle--and don't let anyone else in the family touch them, either. Giving your newly pickled oak bathroom cabinets 24 hours to dry is essential for making sure your handywork doesn't devolve into a mess.

The relatively simple, do-it-yourself project of pickling cabinets makes for a good way to spend a weekend and give a new look to a drab room.

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