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Mill Creek Painters Blog

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How to Revive Dated-Looking Wood

After a while, every aspect of your home will begin to look a little too old fashioned. And that's okay! In this article, we won't leave you stumped (ha!) on how to refinish any dated wood in your home, whether it be the trim, the stairs, or even your kitchen cabinets.

Wood kitchen cabinets have been refreshed with a kicky new stain!
Stunning enhancement of natural wood

What You'll Need

  • A sponge

  • A tack cloth

  • A sanding sponge or electric sander (preference)

  • Spackling compound/primer

  • Paint or wood stain of your choice

General Rules of Thumb

The following steps can (and should) be applied to any of the projects below.

Step 1: Make sure everything is clean.

Using a damp sponge or cloth, clean off any dirt and/or grime. Use the rough side of the sponge if necessary to ensure a clean starting surface.

Step 2: Gently sand the surface.

Whether you choose to do it by hand or use a sander, make sure to wipe any excess wood/old varnish shavings away with a tack cloth before starting painting.

Step 3: Spackling compound

Fill in any holes, dents, or cracks with a spackling compound of your choice.

Selecting a Stain (Preserving the Wood Look)

If your wood is no longer fitting your style, there are several types of stains to choose from. There are oil-based and water-based stains, gel stains and stain/sealer in-one formulas. Oil-based stains penetrate into the wood without raising the grain but carry a strong odour. Instead, you may choose a water-based stain. They’re more eco-friendly and offer easy cleanup.

Going White

Whitewashing your wood will brighten and overall modernize its appearance. If you're changing the type of paint or painting over natural wood cabinets, then it's crucial to prime the cabinets first. Many professionals now use latex paint, citing the improvements to the formula and the as-good-as finish they can get on most surfaces.

Wooden Kitchen Cabinets

If you're looking to spruce up (pun intended) your kitchen cabinets, there are tons of

Before photo of dark wood cabinets starting to look a bit dated
Pre-whitening of kitchen cabinets

different things you can do. Whether you want to maintain the natural wood look, or just want a complete transformation, there are tons of options. Unlike melamine, thermofoil and veneers, oak cabinets are almost always REAL solid wood. And with real wood comes real

The dark, dated cabinets are refreshed with just a few coats of stunning white paint.
Post-whitening of kitchen cabinets

potential. The easiest way to do it is to remove the hardware & cabinets before beginning the process.

*Semi-gloss paint will help reflect light and be more durable in the long run, which is important in a kitchen environment.

Wood Railings and Stairs

On the left, we see dated, dingy oak railings. On the right, the finished product; sparkling white railings.
Before & after of oak railings done by our crew!

Stains are generally more durable than paint, and lighter tread paints may begin showing scuffs and marks before stains or darker paints. Painting over old, stained wood on spindles, risers, and handrails is one of the most cost-effective ways of transforming your staircase or stairwell.

*Since handrails are such a high traffic surface, a hard enamel-type paint in a satin or semi-gloss finish is the best option.


In conclusion, a fresh coat of paint or stain can do wonders for your home's appeal. Whether you're selling or just looking for a change, there are a number of projects you can do on your own or with our help in a short period. It's definitely worth looking into!

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