My Secret to Glazing Cabinets etc…

I make rustic furniture for my small local business.  For several years I have used this simple recipe for beautifully antiqued looking wood. I have a secret “antiquing/glazing” technique that I am going to share with you.

I find that light color paints are especially hard to “glaze” so I’ve tried several methods to get the glazed and antiqued look just right.
This is what works best for me.

~~~My secret weapon~~~
Generic Baby Oil!
I recently glazed cream color cabinets for a client of mine.
Here’s how:

Once the cabinets are painted I take my hand sander with 120 grit paper.
Carefully sand small areas where the cabinets might naturally wear over time.
Once the desired amount of wood is showing through use a tack cloth to clean the cabinets of dust.

Next – use a very small paint brush to apply ebony or walnut stain to the exposed wood and to the turned part of the cabinet creases (a little goes a long way). Only do one door or drawer at a time – otherwise this method won’t work. You must work quickly.
After you apply the stain use baby oil on an old T-shirt and wipe (with pressure) the stained areas until the stain color is all blended. Practice your technique on a low drawer or door first so you can get a feel for how quickly you have to work and how much pressure you’ll need to apply to get the stain to “move” around.

Once you have blended the stain your cabinet should look something like this:

Let the stain dry for a day or two before sealing with poly.  Make sure the cabinets are clean and free of oil before applying any sealer.
I have tried using glaze mixed with a small amount of stain and I always come up with a pink or purple hue. This “baby oil technique” is easier and leaves your cabinets the true color you wanted them – with a bit of rustic accent.
I use this technique for furniture and anything wood that I want to look aged or antiqued.
It’s been my secret recipe for beautifully antiqued wood pieces…
Now it’s yours.

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43 Replies to “My Secret to Glazing Cabinets etc…”

  1. Thank you for sharing your special technique with us! I am excited to try this because I do not have the best of luck with aging mostly light colored pieces without them just looking dirty and muddy. I have a feeling that now that the secrets out, my distressing technique will improve!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your technique with us. I will certainly give this a try next time I need to glaze a light colored piece. Visiting from FNF. Have a great weekend. Peggy

  3. Thank you so much for the tutorial! I've been thinking of doing this in our kitchen, and now it doesn't seem so intimidating! Thank YOU!!! I'm your newest follower :)xo-Christinewww.firsthomelovelife.com

  4. These cabinets look so good! I want to try. My cabinets are melamine-do you think it will work?

  5. Thanks for the tip! Your work is such an inspiration. Carolyn{my simple messterpiece}

  6. Hi there! Thank you for the tutorial. Do you leave the ends of the cabinets with just paint or do you add glaze to them also? Thanks for your help!

  7. Wow great tips! thanks so much for sharing. I am going to use this on a french dresser I just painted white. Please check us out at the French Hen's Nest.We found you through It's Just Me blog. We are following you now!

  8. Hi. Thank you so much for this tip. I always struggle when painting a piece white and then trying to stain where I sanded without changing the \”white\”. I just painted a telephone table for someone on Monday and used white. I wish I had read this first!! Check out my blog I just started to see some of the pieces I have painted.http://jleebeholdallthingsnew.blogspot.com/

  9. Hi! I've been on your site previously. I have a dark island and was wondering what to use on the dark island. The dark walnut doesn't show up on the espresso island. Thanks!

  10. Hi, Holly! Love this look, but am wondering…you said to remove all oils before adding the poly. How do you do this step without removing the work you just did? Thanks for your help!

  11. Hello! LOVE your blog and helpful hints! Can you tell me what color the cabinets where painted before you glazed them? I'm trying to find the right white/off white to paint my cabinets. My walls are Providence Olive.Thanks so much!!!

  12. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I couldn't just accept your technique without trying it myself. It worked beautifully. I'm redoing an older home with over 60 (not complaining, mind you) cabinet doors and drawers in the kitchen and adjoining utility room. I can't justify replacing them because they are solid. The color on the uppers is fine, but it needs character. Now I can paint the lowers a coordinating color, antique them all and when the new appliances, counters and back splash are done, have an awesome kitchen. I've gotten so many wonderful tips online, but I think this one is #1. On the drawer I tried, I didn't even have to sand the existing paint to make the stain adhere. Once the poly top coat was dry, I did some 'destruction testing' and it seems very durable. This has saved me several weeks of labor. Again, thanks so much.

  13. What a great technique! Thank you so much for sharing this. I used it on my cabinets and they came out fabulous! Previously I would've used oil paint and a thinner and this is so much easier, less toxic and way cheaper! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  14. First of all, THANK YOU for at least showing me how to do the detailing. We're in the midst of re-painting our cabinets and this is exactly what I wanted – to get the detailing in the millwork, maybe a LITTLE glaze all over, but I still wanted to walk in and say \”those are white cabinets\”. The wipe-off glaze I tested seemed so thick that I couldn't wipe off enough from the flat parts without noticeable marks. Second – the paint salesman convinced me to use Polycrylic instead of Polyurethane. Can I still use Polycrylic if baby oil has been used? Is the baby oil merely a vehicle to spread the glaze extremely thinly and therefore I can remove it with some 409/Simple Green/TSP after the glaze has fully dried? Or should I just take the Polycrylic back and get regular old Polyurethane?Regardless, this tutorial is a lifesaver. I was a painting major in college but I could not figure this process out for the life of me. I thought I had finally been figured out as a no-talent hack.

  15. I think you should all be aware that if you don't get ever bit of oil off your cabinets your clear coat will peel. Not worth the risk to me as a professional painter. I'll stick with a bit of glaze or floetrol.

  16. I was wondering what type of paint did you paint the cabinets with? Chalk Paint, enamel, flat, semi gloss??? Also, the cabinets that I will be painting are like a pressed board sides, the doors and front of cabinets are wood. Do I use a different type or kind of paint on the sides that are not real wood? Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. To the person who asked about using poly on top of the baby oil, I never used poly on my cabinets. I left them exactly as they were, after using the oil, and the glaze hardened perfectly. I personally hate poly of any kind so I decided to forgo it and see what happened. Well, it's been a year and a half, and they still look great. I'm not speaking for the person who wrote this blog, but I'm just suggesting that maybe you don't need to poly at all. 🙂

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