How To Do Wood Pickling to Lighten Dark Cabinets

How are your kitchen cabinets? Have you seen them recently? Do they look old and tired? Do they need some refacing? Well, if either painting or staining isn’t going to brighten them up and your budget is quite tight, the only remaining solution to your problem is wood pickling. Here are some tips on how you can update and lighten your kitchen cabinets through wood pickling:

Be familiar with the process. Wood pickling is also popularly known as “wood liming”. It is basically a finishing style. It can lighten an older wood structure that turned naturally darker over time.

So, what does a pickled finish mean? Essentially, it pertains to the white stain evenly applied on the surface a wood structure. The white stain has been wiped off. However, its effect is seen and eventually highlighted by the wood’s underlying grain. It makes the wood structure look a lot “brighter”.

Wood pickling has been widely practiced for years, worldwide. Recently, it resurged and gained renewed popularity among furniture designers. So, it is surely a nice idea to use it in sprucing up your old kitchen cabinets.

Prepare your materials. Your checklist should include a primer paint (white and oil-based, about a quart); thinner or water (about a cup); two kinds of sealer; a steel wool or sandpaper (grit: 140); a clean cloth (either a torn up cotton sheet or an old t-shirt); a paint brush (with natural bristles); and a mixing can.

Follow the instructions. Clean up your old kitchen cabinet. Get rid of any grime or grease accumulation. Use a steel wool or sandpaper if some edges are rough or uneven. Bring out your tack cloth to completely dry your old kitchen cabinet. Then, mix your primer paint and your thinner in a can. The ratio should be 3:1.

Using your brush, paint your old kitchen cabinet. Make your strokes even and consistent. Cover all the exposed parts. Leave out the old kitchen cabinet to dry for 10 minutes.

Get your clean cloth. Use it to get rid of the extra paint. Be thorough. Your goal is to achieve a good finish. Begin at the upper portion of your old kitchen cabinet. Follow a consistent stroke until your reach the bottom portion. Continue wiping out everything until you reach the look that you desire. Afterward, allow the paint to air dry before you coat your old kitchen cabinet with your preferred sealer. The sealer is necessary in protecting the color and the look. Aim for at least two coatings. Give each coating enough time to dry.

Bear in mind that your project is not to paint your old kitchen cabinet. You need to give it some highlights. So, plan your strokes. You don’t want your old kitchen cabinet to look “all-white”. Simply repeat the process of painting and wiping the wood. As much as possible, the cloth that you are going to use in wiping the paint is clean and dry. Otherwise, your old kitchen cabinet is going to look dirty and stained.


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