Darkening an already polyurethaned piece

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Forum topic by Dan Lyke posted 03-15-2010 12:55 AM 1045 views 0 times favorited 1 reply Add to Favorites Watch
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Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4124 days

03-15-2010 12:55 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question refurbishing finishing

My first pass at my kitchen cabinets didn’t match my doors, and since the doors were harder to build than the cabinets, I built replacements.

The plan was to take the old cabinets and put them in my office, which is evolving in a fairly dark theme. Somewhere between cherry and mahogany color-wise. The original cabinets are maple, finished with a couple of coats of polyurethane (spar varnish), so very light in color. I wanted a way to darken this, but still let some of the grain show through.

I went down to my local hardware store, looked around, and thought that Minwax Gel Stain, since it had an application note for fiberglass doors, might be reasonable to apply over the existing finish. I gave the whole thing a bit of a sanding to rough up the surface, and started to apply the gel stain, and got a total disaster. The gel stain gummed up on the surface, showed the rag strokes very clearly, and looked like if I’d tried to apply it with a brush it would have been similarly ugly.

I’ve now used mineral spirits to clean off much of it, although of course where I’d sanded through the finish the stain took fairly well.

Anyone got a suggestion on how to rescue this? I’m for going and getting some paint and making the whole thing white, but my wife insists that there has to be something we can do.


-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

1 reply so far

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Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4124 days

#1 posted 03-15-2010 01:32 AM

Addendum: Heck, I’ll even take suggestions on which sorts of paints are likely to stick to polyurethane. If I can’t find a way to let the grain show through, am I best off using a spray acrylic? I don’t think standard Latex (interior or exterior) has a chance of sticking.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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