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13 Different Ways Getting Rid of Honey Oak Can Modernize Your Home

Gain inspiration with these painted and stained oak projects that will help love your home again. In this list, we will show you 13+ different projects we have done in our home to help get rid of that honey oak.

13+ projects to update ugly oak with oak railing and cabinet images

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Ultimately, this allowed us to cheaply modernize and update our home. From painting cabinets to railings you can really change the look while staying on budget. With my last oak painting project, I think it is safe to say that most of that grainy honey oak color is mostly gone from our home. We still have honey oak wood floors that eventually will be updated, but I actually don’t mind the look and color of them.

Will oak trim come back in style?

I do not have a glass ball, but my guess is “No”. There are so many other great woods out there that the honey oak that is in all houses built in the past 30-year time span will need to upgrade or modernize in some way or another.

Have you seen any new construction with honey oak in it? I know that I have not. While I do feel that more light and natural woods will be making a comeback, I do not feel the construction-grade honey oak that was all over my house will be making its way back in style.

Even, this Bob Vila article talks about how honey oak kitchen cabinet trends really make your house look dated. Other articles have mentioned oak as possibly coming back, but they are not referring to the good old honey oak that we have (or I think can I say had) throughout our house. I am sure these trends will continue into 2023 as well.

oak cabinets before painting

How to get rid of the oak color (not replacing)?

There are times when you can completely update the look of oak in the home by changing the items around the oak. And other times, if you want to keep existing cabinets, molding, and trim, then updating with paint or stain is your best bet. We have never used actual stain, only gel stain to help update cabinets and old pieces of furniture. 

Because let’s be honest, I am always looking for the cheapest and easiest way to modernize our home. Sanding old items and replacing oak banisters and cabinets isn’t easy or cheap!

How to get rid of oak grain before painting?

If you are painting cabinets and not wanting the grain to show through as much you can apply a product called Aquacoat first. In our research, it is what all cabinet painters recommend to get a smoother finish.

We have never used this product and you can see what our kitchen cabinets look like now. If you don’t mind the texture the grain gives off after painting then save yourself the step.

How to paint oak cabinets, trim and doors

Here are the basic steps (if not using chalk paint) we have taken for the painting projects in this list.

1. Lightly sand the wood with extra-fine sandpaper. This is only to rough up the surface.

2. Use a deglosser to wipe down the oak.

3. Tape any areas out that you do not want to get primed and painted.

We always have used Sherwin Williams latex primer and have been very happy. Some people will say that you must use an oil-based primer to help stop the grain bleeding. Most of the time, I can’t stomach the smell or have even been pregnant while painting so the latex primer is my best bet.

5. Use a latex enamel paint like Sherwin Williams ProClassic, SW Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel (our new favorite) or this Behr paint we have used in our projects.

6. 2-3 coats may be needed to achieve your desired look.

7. Let the paint cure before adding hardware (like these awesome large handles used in our bathroom vanity), moving furniture, or letting kids bang it with their toys (obviously, we have had that happen before).

Do you need help deciding what color of paint to use?

We recently just tried Samplize and it totally beats having to buy individual paint samples. These 9″ x 14.75″ samples will get shipped directly to you and save the hassle of clean-up (we loved that).

You can also check out our post, see our review and hopefully get the answers to those frequently asked Samplize questions.

If you need help figuring out what paint colors to use, check out how we easily chose paint for our island using large paint samples.

13 DIY projects That Can Cheaply Update Your Home

How to Get Rid of Ugly Oak in Your Home

Here are 13+ amazing ways you can update your home cheaply by finally getting rid of that honey oak color in your molding, trim, cabinets, and more.

What is your favorite way to update a space? I guess I have to say mine probably involves painting (and I am happy that these painting projects really did upgrade the oak in our home).

If you are reading this post, then you are also probably just looking for other budget-friendly ways to update a dated home. We just finished painting our glass tile in our kitchen and you won’t believe the outcome.

I will always say it is the way you can get the most bang for your buck. We love that we were able to modernize our home by painting and staining the existing honey oak.

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Friday 11th of February 2022

I loathe honey oak. I have a very strong dislike for it. I’m currently renting and my kitchen floor and cabinets are honey oak and I swore up and down that the next house I buy will not have honey oak in it. Countless photos of friends and family have been ruined because the glowing gold color emanating from the kitchen casts a terrible yellow on everyone.

Well here I am, putting in an offer on a home built in ‘94 that is dripping in honey oak. Doors, cabinets, trim, stairs…you name it, it’s all honey oak. It’s a gorgeous home with a beautiful landscaped yard, it’s just the honey oak has spread like a virus through the house. I will do everything in my power to destroy that golden color. It’s either being ripped out or painted over, I haven’t decided.


Friday 11th of February 2022

Hi Kate. Congrats on your new house! It sounds like our house. While it would be nice to start completely fresh without any honey oak, it definitely was way cheaper to paint everything. Good luck with your DIY painting projects!

Alicia Hursley

Monday 30th of August 2021

We bought a house a few years ago that seemingly took out an entire forest of oak trees to complete the kitchen! I can't wait to get the door replaced, and get to work painting the rest. Thanks for sharing.


Monday 30th of August 2021

Hi Alicia. Yes, you can always replace the doors or paint that oak if they are in good enough shape.

Judy hardison

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

I personally don't find any well done stained wood ugly especially oak. I find painting oak a crime and will never paint it. Now pine yes I will paint that in a heartbeat.


Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Hi Judy. I am glad you love your oak. I won't have minded if it wasn't stained the honey oak color on construction-grade cabinets and more. We love how much we were able to update our home. I know not everyone would agree, but it is fun to have our own style. And yes, we always paint pine or get better wood if we are staining it.

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