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Old 12-22-2008, 08:07 PM   #1
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Do I need to stain cabinets?


I'm in the process of refinishing my oak cabinets. I purchased a stain (natural colored). I am trying to get them as light colored as possible. I'm wondering if I should even stain them. Is it possible to have a stain make it look lighter? I'm guessing no. Also, should I just use polyurethane with no stain? Is this the lightest I can get the cabinets without bleaching them?

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Old 12-23-2008, 07:50 AM   #2
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Do I need to stain cabinets?


You certainly don't have to use stain if you don't want to.

Oak tends to darken because it absorbs so much stain or polyurethane due to its open grain structure and flat grain in some boards, so even poly will make it a tad darker.

Here's what I'd do...

Skip the stain...

Apply a coat of sanding sealer to "plug up" the grain and prevent the wood from absorbing much of the finish. Sand to knock down the raised grain in accordance with the sanding sealer's directions. Then apply a coat of either gloss or satin polyurethane. The solvent based poly is more durable, but it tends to add an amber color to the wood even though it has no tint...Makes it rich or almost wet-looking.

Another option is to use water based polyurethane, which won't add any color to the wood at all. I like water based poly for a lot of things but it doesn't make the wood look richer. It isn't quite as durable and it takes more coats to build up any thickness if that's the look you're after. If you want the natural look of oak then water based poly will give it to you.

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Old 12-23-2008, 12:40 PM   #3
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Do I need to stain cabinets?


The lightest color you'll get is with no stain at all, just poly. If you want it to absorb less stain, you could try a wood conditioner first, and wipe off the excess stain quickly. I wouldn't bother bleaching, the results won't be worth the headache you'll have when you're done.

Red oak is naturally going to be darker than maple, you'll never get it that light. Stain will never lighten the color of wood, only darken. You could try a white-wash glaze to lighten it up, but I personally don't like it.

When finishing, I prefer a satin finish, especially on kitchen cabinets, I don't like a gloss, or wet-look.

Have you thought about painting them white/off-white?
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Old 12-24-2008, 12:12 AM   #4
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Do I need to stain cabinets?


I'd use the sanding sealer as mentioned above, followed with oil based poly.
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Old 12-24-2008, 09:23 AM   #5
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Do I need to stain cabinets?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeeper1970 View Post
Have you thought about painting them white/off-white?
You would paint oak cabinets??? ..............oh the shame of it.
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Old 12-24-2008, 09:46 AM   #6
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Do I need to stain cabinets?


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You would paint oak cabinets??? ..............oh the shame of it.
I'm not a fan of oak, no I don't have a problem painting it.

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