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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    6

    Question Gel stain over builder grade cabinets

    A couple questions about Gel stain. My kitchen has the original 1982 builder's grade cabinets. The generic kind with a honey color and those silly black flecks of paint on them. I'm going to grab one of the cabinet doors that's rarely use to employ as my guinea pig, but wanted to find out some things beforehand.

    Will I need to sand them all they way down to bare wood (which is thin), or will gel stain penetrate and hold onto the old finish if I just lightly sand the surface?

    There are some exposed side panels where the cabinetry ends. These end panels appear to have a cheap paper coating that's printed to look like wood grain. Does this kind of material take the gel stain fairly well, or is it easily damaged? Perhaps it should just be painted over?

    Thanks in advance for any tips provided.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,078

    Default Re: Gel stain over builder grade cabinets

    If stain cannot reach the wood grain, it will not impart color. If you hope to have any success you will have to sand the finish off, down to bare wood.

    Photo-finish is exactly as it sounds, an image applied over a man made core, usually particle board. You cannot stain this type of surface, and trying to stain particle board will be sketchy at best.

    Your best bet is to reface anything with a photo-finish (overlay with thin wood skin ), then stain, then apply a clear sealer such as polyurethane. For real wood surfaces, strip and/or sand the existing finish down to bare wood, stain and apply sealer.

    Gel stains are some of the worst stains to use. They do not penetrate well, not even bare wood. Stick with liquid stain or aniline dyes. As far as polyurethanes go, I really like McCloskies. STAY AWAY FROM MINWAX POLYURETHANE!!!! It is extremely hard to use and the finish results are less than acceptable. Their liquid stains are great, but nothing else is. Also stay away from stain/poly one-step coatings. They are little more than pigmented polyurethane and if the the finish is chipped or dinged you've got bare wood showing through and it will be tough to repair and make invisible again. Stain first, poly second for the best results.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Gel stain over builder grade cabinets

    contractor grade simply implies the line of cabinets/paint /carpet whatever it may be , that the contractor got the best price on....usually it is indeed of low to medieum quality product,

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