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Old 03-08-2016, 08:50 PM   #1
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Refinishing kitchen cabinets


I'm going to be refinishing the cabinets in my parents kitchen. The cabinets are from the 90s and in great shape. I want to go from a light color to a much darker one. I plan on using a gel stain. Should I plan on sanding the finish down to bare wood? Just knock the sheen off? Use a stripper? I want to do the best job I can the first time around rather than trying to save time and being unhappy with the results. I have various types of sanders so I should be able to make short work of it if its necessary. How should I go about this to get the best results?

Thanks
Anthony

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Old 03-09-2016, 06:13 AM   #2
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Stain will only soak into clean raw wood---if you wish to stain those--all finish must be removed--usually by chemically stripping--then sanding.

It might be possible to spray on several coats of a colored varnish, over the top of the existing finish.

I have never done that ,however, so I'll leave instructions up to other members.

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Old 03-09-2016, 06:56 AM   #3
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What you are planning to do is next to impossible. You will never get down to the bare wood without incredible amounts of "elbow grease" and dogged determination, not to mention exposure to harmful chemicals and the dust from sanding. I would reconsider and think about painting them. PPG has a great product called Breakthrough for jobs like this.
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Old 03-09-2016, 07:28 AM   #4
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The trend from light to dark to light to dark is changing so fast I believe in some instances paint wouldn't have time to dry.
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Old 03-09-2016, 07:32 AM   #5
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Consider using the Rustoleum Cabinets Transformation product. I used it on my kitchen cabinets last year, I'm happy with the results.

It is essentially a paint product that goes over almost anything, no heavy sanding required. (Some light sanding is recommended on any pre-existing rough spots.)

I just went with the basic plain finish, but the kit includes an optional glaze finish that you can use to create all kinds of effects, including simulated wood grain.

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Old 03-09-2016, 09:10 AM   #6
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I've used that rustoleum product with good results at my sisters house. These are much nicer cabinets in the instance so o wad hoping to sand and use stain. Isn't that what gel stains are used for?
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa7483 View Post
I've used that rustoleum product with good results at my sisters house. These are much nicer cabinets in the instance so o wad hoping to sand and use stain. Isn't that what gel stains are used for?
Gel stains still need the same surface preparation as regular stains. Smooth clean, dry surface.

Gel stains just don't penetrate into the wood as much as liquid stains.

Lots of info on the net about gel stains. Start here: http://my.woodmagazine.com/materials...es/gel-stains/

Last edited by ZZZZZ; 03-09-2016 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:47 AM   #8
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I would start by trying to deduce what type of finish is on the cabinets. Start w/ denatured alcohol, see if the finish gums up. If yes - finish is most likely shellac and your best case scenario. If no - move onto lacquer thinner. If yes - finish is lacquer, not the end of the world, most likely case. If no - move onto xylene. If no go, you've got some type of varnish finish - worst case scenario, most work, least likely for cabinets from the 90's.

Once you've figured out the finish, you know how you can chemically strip it. Shellac/alcohol will be the most easy to work with, varnish/methylene chloride the most annoying and toxic. Despite what others are saying, wood doesn't need to be "bare" for wood to take it. In fact, the practice of wash coating, which many in this very thread often suggest, is not that of laying stain directly onto wood, but rather some type of coat or as is often marketed by deceiving companies as "pre-stain."

Personally, I would "strip" the existing finish - which is most likely lacquer. then I would stain it. Note, you are not trying to remove the existing stain, rather work with it and add to it to get the desired look. After staining, I would refinish, and I would use a shellac.

With that said, my wife - bless her - has jumped into gel staining all our baseboards and much of the wood in our house. Despite my suggestions above, she has done it over lacquer and shellac with great success. Then my suggestion to shellac over and finish the new coat has gone unheard, as she would rather take the advice of some bimbo with a blog rather than her engineer husband who somewhat enjoys, but is a far cry from a professional, wood finishing. My wife - bless her - uses overpriced briwax, which i offered to make her some, but she prefers the $30/can stuff over the same stuff I can make for a fraction of the price. Even buying a cheaper version, which is the same thing, cannot be heard by my wife due to the bimbo with the blog. I even read from the bible of wood finishing itself (flexner's book), and my wife will not leave her pagan rituals.

other options/add ons/other things to consider
1) dye shellac and brush over - i've never done this, but it would be interesting!
2) if lacquer or shellac, make a 1 lb cut of shellac, brush on, then gel stain/normal stain/glaze, then finish coat
3) if oak, and you dislike pores, how will you plan to fill the pores? same goes for any wood with pores
4) do as my wife - bless her - does and just go for it. The worse that will happen is you end up redoing it a couple years later, but who know, maybe light stain will be back in by then. My wife - bless her - does do a light sand coat w/ 320 or 400 grit sandpaper.

so yes, it is possible. A little testing upfront can give huge confidence in its longevity.
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Old 03-09-2016, 11:12 AM   #9
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Thank you for all the advice thus far.

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