In January of this year, we bought what I assume will be our forever home.  But the house isn’t perfect, so we’ve spent the last month or so doing all kinds of things to make it nicer.  For instance, we had all of the old ratty carpet replaced with new.  We put tile flooring into the office.  We got new countertops in our kitchen, and subsequently had to put in a new tile backsplash to hide the wall damage we did when we took out the old cracked, countertops.  We also painted the entire house….which made such a huge difference.

Now that that’s all done with, the house is pretty nice and way nicer than our old home.  Still, I love to nitpick and I enjoy making things nicer than they once were, on a budget of course.  So I decided that I would put a little effort into our bathroom cabinets, both in our kid’s bathroom and in the master.  Here’s what we started with:

As you can see, the cabinets in our guest bathroom started in pretty good shape:


Here’s how our master bathroom started out:


Of course, they didn’t look bad from a distance at all.  However, when you looked up close, the cabinets in both bathrooms were actually quite worn:


DSCF3077Even though the cabinets were fairly beat up, we obviously didn’t want to replace them altogether.  First of all, the bones were in great shape.  Second of all, we all know that that would be a huge pain in the ass.  Third of all, that would be stupid.  So instead, we decided to sand and re-stain them ourselves.

DSCF3091Because we’re lazy, we decided to use Minwax Polyshades, which combines an oil-based wood stain and polyurethane in one simple step.  Here’s how we did it:

How to Use Minwax Polyshades

Minwax Polyshades is so easy that my four-year-old could daughter do it.  Seriously.  She did.  Look.

First, we unscrewed the cabinet pulls and removed them.  Then we started the process by lightly sanding all of the cabinets, drawer fronts, and doors.  The following pictures show our bathroom cabinets in various stages of the sanding process:




The next thing we needed to do was use the vacuum hose to suck up all of dirt and dust, and we saved a ton of cash by hiring our four-year-old daughter to do some of the grunt work.  And why not?  She works really hard, always has a positive attitude, and accepts payment in gummy bears, stickers, or Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.


Once we had all the dirt and dust sucked up, we were ready to start staining.  The supplies we used for this job include latex gloves and a few pairs of holey socks that were already headed for the trash.



I managed to get the stain on both cabinets by slowly working my way from one side to the other with one of Greg’s old, crusty socks.  Since Minwax Polyshades is known to smudge, I took special care spread it evenly and clean up any smudges before they dried.  Here are a few pictures that I took during the process:



Once I was done staining the cabinets, I waited for a while to see if we should put on a second coat.  Ultimately, we decided that we were happy with the color and coverage and didn’t want to push our luck.  Plus, did I mention that we’re lazy? Here are some pictures of the cabinets once the entire process was over with.  Voila!


DSCF3083DSCF3085As you can see, the cabinets don’t look all that much different.  However, they do look about a million times better than they did before.  All of the worn spots and imperfections are now completely hidden by the new stain, and both vanities look practically new when you see them up close.  Overall, we’re very happy with our frugal bathroom cabinet remodel, especially when you consider what we spent on it:


Total Cost of our Frugal Bathroom Cabinet Remodel:

  • Minwax Polyshades: $13.46
  • 4 Pairs of Greg’s old socks: Ummmm……$1?
  • My arms hurt: $0


Have you ever sanded and re-stained a bathroom cabinet, kitchen cabinet, or piece of furniture?  What kind of frugal remodel have you done lately?