I have a set of maple cabinets that I would like a bit darker while still keeping the natural wood look. Is there a way to darken them without removing all of the finish? –J.D.

Hi J.D.,

If the two finishes are compatible, you could apply a tinted varnish, such as Minwax Polyshades, over the existing finish. Each coat of the tinted varnish will darken the wood a bit more while making the wood grain more opaque as well.

Start by wiping an inconspicuous spot on the cabinets down with a clean rag dampened with mineral spirits to remove any dirt and contaminants, such as wax or grease. Lightly sand the spot with fine sandpaper (220 grit or higher) to dull the sheen and allow the new finish adhere to the old. Wipe of any sanding dust with a clean, damp cloth.

When the surface is dry, apply the tinted finish to the spot and allow it to dry thoroughly for several days. Once the finish has hardened, test it with your fingernail to see if the new finish adheres well to the old. If it does, repeat the procedure on all the cabinets.

Good luck with your project,


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Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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