re-staining kitchen cabinets darker

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Forum topic by AAANDRRREW posted 11-18-2016 01:39 PM 648 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View AAANDRRREW's profile


210 posts in 1319 days

11-18-2016 01:39 PM

Hello All,

My wife would like to either paint or re-stain our golden oak kitchen cabinets. I can handle the painting part just fine, but I do have my reservations about doing so… The cabinet doors are pretty much solid oak, as are the face frames. The actual cabinet appears to be cabinet grade plywood.

Now, she mentioned re-staining them darker…but I’m a little concerned about that. I’ve seen things online where people just scuff them up (some used a sander) and apply a gel stain and then a regular stain. Finish the job with poly – all great on virgin wood, but I am concerned about getting the old poly off. To get a good finish, wouldn’t one have to ensure all the old poly is sanded off? Its my understanding that the poly not only protects, but also repels things, along with sealing the wood. Now I could spend the next 17 months sanding the doors and the routed design to bare wood, but I have my doubts about the plywood – I’d be incredibly gunshy about sanding through the paper thin veneer.

Anyone have any advice?

10 replies so far

View dhazelton's profile


2789 posts in 2443 days

#1 posted 11-18-2016 01:54 PM

“Anyone have any advice?”

Paint. Yes, you will have to strip the doors and frames down to bare wood to restain. Someone may chime in about spraying a dark tinted poly or lacquer over what you have now. I’ve never done it but it might be a simple thing.

View bondogaposis's profile


4992 posts in 2497 days

#2 posted 11-18-2016 02:04 PM

Just so you know, the bold grain of oak will likely show through any paint.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View AAANDRRREW's profile


210 posts in 1319 days

#3 posted 11-18-2016 02:12 PM

Yep – fully aware of the grain, and for some reason, my wife prefers it…I even offered to use different products to fill the grain but she prefers to see the grain.

We are almost finished up with our nursery painting – I painted all the doors, trim and window sill’s white. I can definitely tell the finish on the doors and sill are 100x better than the trimwork – the trimwork poly must not be as thick because the grain likes to show more and the doors not as much. I personally was going for more a smooth finish and hide the grain, but her statement was “if we do that, it makes it look like cheap and almost like plastic. If you see the grain it at least makes it obvious its wood”. OK, hun :)

I’m not a huge fan of painting nice oak white, especially because its so time consuming, and i fought her on this…but I give her credit, the room really looks good and modern. The house is 10 years old, but the people that built it were in the late 50’s. No offense to people that age, but I can tell their taste is different than people in their 20’s and 30’s and what I’m told is now “IN”. The color chosen screams early 90’s, along with some odd choices in bathroom vanities and the abundant, borderline loud crown molding and trim around cabinets.

View OSU55's profile


1866 posts in 2136 days

#4 posted 11-18-2016 02:29 PM

Staining is possible. Most cabinets are not finished in poly, usually precat lacquer. Have you tested the finish? Here is a before and after of my cabinets. How old is the finish? Not sure a poly finish with several years on it would have to be stripped, but just sanded, depending on what went on top of it. These were glazed with black, then toned with transtint in shellac, topcoated with Target SC9000 wb poly. They were done 5 yrs ago, holding up just fine.

View AAANDRRREW's profile


210 posts in 1319 days

#5 posted 11-18-2016 02:36 PM

Those are gorgeous OSU.

Your before pic is almost what I have going on. So, all you did was rough them up for prep?

Can you elaborate a little more about the black glaze and shellac process?

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 738 days

#6 posted 11-18-2016 04:51 PM

You assume that old coat is polyurethane. Theres is very little chance it is true unless you applied it yourself. Most probably it is lacquer that is much easier to strip.
As for painting I never could understand why someone takes beautiful and expensive wood and paints it so that it looks like mdf.

View Cooler's profile


299 posts in 990 days

#7 posted 11-18-2016 05:37 PM

Most cabinet makers have switched to UV cured lacquer. The only advantage of that stuff is that it cures in minutes instead of hours or days. It improves their production rates.

Poly, from my observation, performs much better but has a much longer cure time.

My guess is that the topcoat is not poly.

I refinished some cabinets (honey oak) by brushing on GF “Milk paint”. This is not real milk paint but looks like it. It is fairly amazing in its ability to lay down a perfect coat with a brush—no brush marks at all. But it is a matte finish and requires a clear topcoat for durability. The matte finish will scar very easily. All I did clean the surface, lightly scuff and then paint. GF has videos on the subject. Use a foam brush.

Several videos here:

Gray (Greige) is the new color of the decade.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View OSU55's profile


1866 posts in 2136 days

#8 posted 11-19-2016 03:00 PM

Cleaned first with dawn dish soap/water and maroon scotchbrite, then scuffed equally with maroon scotchbrite

For glazing I used Golden Mediums Acrylic Glazing Liquid (satin – can tell when dry) and Golden Fluid Acrylics for colorant. brushed on wiped off.

The cabinet boxes were done in place brushing, the doors and drawers sprayed. Dewaxed shellac ~3/4# cut tinted with Transtint. The cabs were brushed using golden taklon brushes. Butyl cellosolve used in the shellac to give more open time. Last coat was 1# clear coat. Same brushes were used to apply the SC9000, tinted with transtint, 5 thin coats within 24 hrs, it burns in within that period.

The spraying was the same schedule, minus the butyl cellosolve. I used some unfinished oak to develop the finish schedule, then the backs of several doors to finalize it.

View JBrow's profile


1366 posts in 1066 days

#9 posted 11-19-2016 07:34 PM


That is an awesome job! The cabinets look great!


If it were me, I would do what OSU55 did and hope they come out half as nice.

View AAANDRRREW's profile


210 posts in 1319 days

#10 posted 11-19-2016 07:51 PM

Haha no kidding. I showed my wife the pics and she said “oooooo those are nice”

I’m thinking of buying osu a ticket from OK (I’m assuming) to WI and paying him handsomely to do mine just like it!

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