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Godfueledbc 01-21-2013 02:46 PM

Staining cabinets darker
Newbie here (both in forums and in home ownership)..thanks in advance for any help and patience!

So we just bought a house and I have "some" DIY skills and decided to jump head first into refinishing (sanding and restaining) the kitchen cabinets etc. We are going from a very light stain to a very dark stain.

My question is pertaining to how much I need to sand...I am willing to put in the work, but don't want to waste my time either if it's not needed. Basically I have sanded the doors and gotten much of the gloss finish off, but the light stain (kind of a white-wash color) is very stubborn to sand out. The problem is that when I have test-applied some stain, you can tell the difference in the areas where I was able to get down to the bare wood and the areas we couldn't get the stain off. It's not real glossy but you can definitely see a difference and it does have kind of a satin sheen where the old stain wasn't off...and the color looks the same with the obvious difference in the way it reflects. But.. that is before applying polyurethane.

I have also tried a chemical stripper to the doors, but it didn't really remove the stain either.

I am applying a matte poly over the stain afterward. I have already done the cabinet boxes and they look great. But, those doors are kicking my butt. So...assuming I get the poly (or whatever is sealing it) sanded off...will the new poly smooth everything out (as far as the gloss/matte) once I apply it at the end?? Or do I need to just get to the grind and put the work in to get everything down to the bare wood?

Thanks again in advance for any advice!

oh'mike 01-21-2013 07:57 PM

Needs to be bare wood to accept stain----have you considered buying new doors and drawer fronts? there are plenty of companies that only make doors and drawer fronts--

Sure would be easier and result in a brand new looking kitchen.

Godfueledbc 01-22-2013 11:52 AM

Thanks oh'mike,

I wish I had considered that before I got so far invested into the sanding/staining of things. It may have been a better option. I hammered away last night and got 9 doors (of 19) done with the first coat of stain.

So, I think I'm too far invested to turn back now. But, that's ok. I'll have the notch in my belt that I did it all myself and didn't short change it.

Thanks for the reply!

DIY-Her 01-24-2013 09:17 AM

I agree with Mike. Back in 1990, the house we owned, the previous owner put in dark oak cabinets that were almost black, you could barely see any wood grain. The cabinets were installed about 1970-73. All were wood except the side of one exterior cabinet. I took off all the doors, sanded down the outsides, put an oak ply on the side of the one cabinet, then stained all to a more warmer lighter color. We went to a local cabinet maker and ordered unfinished oak doors, to which I stained to match the rest of the cabinets.
By the time we sold the house in 1995, all that came through, including realtors, all thought we had a brand new kitchen.

I don't agree 100% that you have to strip down all color in the wood before you restain when it comes to staining darker. I'm doing the same now for the house we have been in since 1995. The cabinets were lighter than what I thought they were when ordering them through the builder.
So, 17 years later, since we can't afford new cabinets for the large kitchen, I'm taking off just the top finish and staining over it to make it a more English Chestnut with a slight bit of cherry color.
It's working out fine. I also did the same to some old furniture in the past, and 27 years later, the finish is still in perfect shape.

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