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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have solid wood, high quality but dated looking oak kitchen cabinets. I don't want to paint since have three active young kids.

We considered polyshades, but the reviews haven't been very good. HomeDepot advised adhering polyshades with a paint sprayer - anyone try this?

I've read some good discussions on this site about Gel Stains. Anyone have a color formula/brand that has worked well. I want a modern color which isn't yellow, orange or too red, the darker colors OK if not too dark. How much stripping is necessary with Gel Stain if the wood is well cleaned and lightly sanded? Does the polyurythane need to be completely removed first? Thx in advance.
 

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Does not work well. Too thick and not made for spraying. Thinning leaves a very strange color. Any change in color without using paint will require stripping to raw wood. Nothing you use over poly will look great. One option if you insist on not stripping is to color the polyurethane with a dye coloring. This is done all the time in cabinet finishing, but we still start with a stain or two as first coats. And dye the sealer only then two clear top coats.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
gel stain

Thanks Bob, I don't mind stripping the cabinets if that is what it takes, actually relaxing. Have you had good luck with gel stain or what works best on cabinets - these are red oak from 80s, nice raised panels? It seems on the trial cabinet I did, once I added a regular stain, once added a poly, went back to the yellow, dated look or was too red - didn't give me dramatic 'new' look so not worth all the effort. Have done lots of research online and been to numerous stores - not much info out there on this being done successfully - all just tell me to paint. So, I'm hoping to find an expert and save the wood.
 

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Painting is only done by hacks and people that have no idea how cabinets are coated. Gel stains will work well. Best for a deep tone is to use a dye stain first. Let dry then apply a wiping stain. Then seal and two coats of poly top coat. If water based, you use two sealer coats and only one top coat. Water based are still not up to the standards of solvent based, but it is a better way to work on interior projects.
 

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In my opinion, you can paint cabinets (it does not make you a hack) and make them look very good but you should use different products than standard home trim paints. I also don't think that a polyshade will give you a professional look. Gel stains on the other hand can be used to a-cheive a professional appearance but the cabinets should be prepped properly before applying products. Also, if you want to stain a dark walnut color then you would have to lay on a basecoat (oilbase ). If you are going to try a Gel stain then I would practice on a sample area. I have used Old Masters and Jeld before with good results. OM with actually help you with the proper color basecoats. Good Luck.
 

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Crown Point
got me on that one, except they use a vinyl sealer (which is needed for moisture protection) and catalyzed top coats over this. So even with what they are referring to as "paint" it is still not the paint that a DIYer buys are Home Depot. Which is what I am talking about., So many say to paint with enamel, which is a hack job. Without this sealer and catalyzed top coats you do not get a coating that will hold up to conditons a cabinet is desgined for.
 
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