Staining your outdated honey oak trim is easier than you think. No sanding or stripping required. This easy method provides great result for a quick DIY update.


I hope Memorial Day weekend was nicer where you are than it was in Iowa. It was a pretty soggy and cold weekend for the most part. We did get some sunshine late Monday afternoon. While I would have preferred a sunny weekend spent outdoors, it was a good excuse to start staining my honey oak trim darker. If you follow me regularly, you know that I stained my mantel a few weeks ago. This weekend I tackled the kitchen. One step closer to getting our kitchen finally finished!

I used the same method as I used for the mantel. While I love dark trim, I am not committed yet to re-staining all of the trim in my house, so I’m using a stain that is just a few shades darker and warmer than the existing trim. In pictures, you probably can’t tell a huge difference, but in person you can.

I didn’t take a true before picture of this wall, but here it is taped up before I started staining.

You can get a more detailed step-by-step instructions from my previous post, but I’ll give the basics here. To prep, all I did was run a dry Scotchbrite pad over the existing trim and then used a clean damp cloth to wipe off any dust. No sanding or stripping required!

Using General Finishes gel stain in Brown Mahogany, I put a tube sock over my rubber glove covered hand, dipped it into the gel stain and applied a thin coat of stain.

It’s best to work in small sections (I did one wall at a time if it was a long wall or two short walls). After a few minutes I used a clean cotton cloth to wipe off the stain, making sure to get any extra out of the crevices of the trim.

I did two coats, allowing about 30 minutes dry time in between coats. Then I removed the painters tape after about an hour.

All we have left to do in the kitchen is finish the crown molding on one set of cabinets, make curtains for the kitchen window and hang pictures in the dining area. One more rainy weekend would probably do it. I’m hoping for some nice ones though. As long as we finish before Labor Day weekend, I’ll be happy. That’s when we first started with the counter tops and painting the kitchen cabinets last year.

This project was actually only a very small part of the weekend. We spent Friday night and Saturday in my husband’s hometown for his cousin’s son’s high school graduation. It was nice seeing his family and despite the wet weather, Carter had fun playing with all the kids there and ended the night a fairly muddy mess – which makes for a happy 4 year old! Today we took Carter bowling for the first time. We just never think to go. After that we stopped for ice cream, low and behold the sun finally decided to come out, so we got the hose out for Carter to play with. It wasn’t the Memorial Day weekend we had planned but we made the best of it for a fun and productive weekend!



  • Michelle Paige
    Posted May 31, 2013 10:39 pm 0Likes

    The darker trim looks good. A nice detailed touch.

  • Katie Goldsworthy
    Posted June 5, 2013 1:58 am 0Likes

    That looks great! Thanks for sharing your tip at Monday Funday!

  • Roeshel
    Posted June 8, 2013 6:27 pm 0Likes

    Great tip! Love it! 🙂

  • Tanya
    Posted August 5, 2014 1:53 pm 0Likes

    So glad I found you! I want to restain every piece of trim in my house. I can’t look at all of this honey oak one more day :D! I tried it out on a couple of pieces of trim in my closet first and it has been 48 hours and it’s still tacky. Normal? Or what do I need to do differently?

    • Erin @
      Posted August 5, 2014 6:25 pm 0Likes

      What kind if stain did you use?

      • Tanya
        Posted August 5, 2014 6:39 pm 0Likes

        Minwax gel stain. That’s what I used to redo our mantel so I wanted the trim to match.

        • Erin @
          Posted August 5, 2014 10:12 pm 0Likes

          I can’t speak to that brand. I used General Finishes Gel Stain, not sure how much of a difference there is. Mine felt only slightly tacky after several hours and no tackiness after about a day. Is it humid where you are? That may increase “curing” time. If all else fails you could do a coat of poly over the top. Good luck!

  • Kim
    Posted August 6, 2014 3:09 pm 0Likes

    Did you sand the trim first? Seal?

    • Erin @
      Posted August 7, 2014 12:08 am 0Likes

      I didn’t sand the trim or seal it.

      • L
        Posted February 15, 2016 4:16 pm 0Likes

        How has your trim held up…still look good? Chipping or ware and tear??

Comments are closed.

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