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Posted: 12/4/2006 7:06:37 AM EST
My new house was built in '83 and while the kitchen and bathroom cabinets look fine from arm's length or a little more, the closer you get to them, you can see that they've got some wear on them. The varnish is coming off in some spots and in others, the stain looks like it needs some reapplication.

Does anyone know of a product, or a good way, to spiff them up so I don't have to strip and re-stain / varnish them?

I've considered painting them white and that would be fine with me but would love to keep the natural wood look.
Link Posted: 12/4/2006 9:23:32 AM EST
2:23pm bump ...
Link Posted: 12/4/2006 11:08:13 AM EST
If you paint them you'll still have to strip them, as paint won't take to a finished surface. And painted cabinets are for apartments, not houses. Take some pride in your home and do it right.

All you'll need is a random orbital sander, about 3 different grits of sandpaper, and the finish of your choice. Less than $100 for brand new-looking cabinets? Anything else is pure laziness and you'll never be satisfied with the outcome.

Just do a little here and there, bro. No need to kill yourself or take time off work to get it done. That's the beauty of a DIY project of this nature: you have whatever time is available to complete it. 15 minutes or 1/2 an hour a night here and there, and 2 hours on a Saturday to stain or oil. And they can be perfectly functional while you're doing it, too. Wednesday night after work, remove a door. Sand it until it's time to focus on your other responsibilities and put it back up. Doesn't matter if you're finished sanding or not. Rinse and repeat.


Start work on the least affected area - that is, the area of the cabinets that don't normally receive direct sunlight--as natural light reveals even the smallest flaw--or is within the focal point of the kitchen. You'll use this starting point to get accustomed to the sander, the amount of material removed by degree of grit, and eventually applying the finish. Working your way to the most noticable areas of the cabinets will give you some time to become proficient in your tools and techniques while still making progress, and if you're consistent with what works best your most visible areas will show little or no flaws.

The inside of the cabinet doors are where you should start. If you screw them up, no one will ever be the wiser and you'll be able to adjust so the facefronts come out nice.

Once 100% of the sanding is done, then you can do the same thing staining /oiling - one door at a time if that's all your schedule allows for, again starting in the least noticable areas.

The only stipulation here is staining the stiles and rails (the frame), as those must all be done at once to keep a wet edge for consistency and to avoid lines. Obviously you can do the uppers and lowers at different times, but any ajoining pieces need to be finished all in the same time period without stopping.

Trust me, bro: you can do it. We even have a DIY forum here for projects such as this! You can ask questions, post pictures so we can follow your progress, and get tons of advice for techniques and materials - and it's free!

It may seem too much to tackle right now, but in the end your brand new-looking cabinets will be something you can reflect on with pride. It's worth every second you put into it.


Link Posted: 12/4/2006 11:19:14 AM EST
Thanks for the response Richard!

I know I can do it ... I've debated pretty much everything from ripping them out and starting over (which I've done with my old house) to stripping/staining to the aforementioned painted cabinets and wondered if anyone knew of a "middle way" ...

Mebbe that's what I'll do. It would give me the chance to really detail clean them as well, and replace the hardware.

Thanks again,
jim
Link Posted: 12/4/2006 12:24:18 PM EST

Originally Posted By macman37:
Thanks for the response Richard!

I know I can do it ... I've debated pretty much everything from ripping them out and starting over (which I've done with my old house) to stripping/staining to the aforementioned painted cabinets and wondered if anyone knew of a "middle way" ...

Mebbe that's what I'll do. It would give me the chance to really detail clean them as well, and replace the hardware.

Thanks again,
jim


Well, there's a right way and a wrong way to do anything - then there's the middle way, which could be right or wrong depending on the perspective of the individual providing the opinion.

You might be completely happy with painted cabinets. It's your home, so doing it the way you're satisfied with is the path you'll want to trek. Some guys like me do not appreciate the look of paint on cabinets, as we view such finishes as temporary and cheap non-solutions due to the owner refusing to spend the money, invest the time, or gain the necessary knowledge to improve the asethetics. Hence my "apartment" comment. But if you're renting a home and working 2 jobs and like the cabinets painted, then spending the money, time, and effort to learn to do it another way isn't really the most amicable solution.

Once you start exploring any option inbetween, it becomes nothing more than a matter of personal perception. Satisfaction = the value you personally place on time, money, and effort; so your solution isn't my equation, just as by walking into your home as a guest tact dictates I don't start the old cock holster and scrutinize anything I would have done differently.

Personally, I'm not aware of anything designed to touch up a marred finish consisting of stain and protective coats. I'm sure they're out there, though, as they make them for automotive finishes, bathtub repairs, and fabric repairs. If those three things can be fixed to satisfaction, certainly a varnished finish has a marketed product to do the same. It is but my ignorance that keeps me from being able to recommend a specific product or technique. I would imagine it would be somewhat the same as repairing a flawed area of automotive paint: strip the area and surrounding area, primer, paint to match, and apply the clear coat and blend using an application technique to render the fix invisible to all but the most professional car detailer.

But my concern would be what caused the problem in the first place. A properly applied wood finish will dull, but if it is in a certain area only then something is gone awry. It's possible the factory orangepeeled the finish, but usually a defective finish is the result of a diseased wood that did not get caught under quality control inspections or was not cured properly in the kiln.

Sunlight will also have this affect. Any wood product is affected by sunlight more than shaded areas, just like the first signs of failing automotive finishes begin on the roof, hood, and trunk lid. If this is indeed the case, it is likely you'll be able to match the existing finish to effect a repair that is virtually unnoticable. But again, your talent with the technique and the product's effectiveness will dictate the outcome. Personally, I've yet to be able to blend finishes on any surface to my satisfaction, but I'm a perfectionist and anal. Since you're always your own worse critic, it again goes to perception.

I view things of this nature as a chance to improve on the existing, rather than fixing problem areas - like you said, ripping out to replace with newer/better. But something like the asthetics of a finish can make a huge difference in the value of the component if the actual structural integrity isn't compromised. It's an opportunity to change the look and feel to meet your personal tastes. And to learn from experience, of course, all the while investing for a higher return should you ever decide to sell. I think you need to account (pun intended) for that factor as well - kitchen remodels, even simple ones, carry an 80% ROI (Return On Investment) and are the single most important aspect to a potential homebuyer when the interior is discussed if the floorplan meets their requirements.

Whatever you decide, good luck! My advice/perspective is mine alone, and only you know how much time and money and energy this project is worth to you. I really wish I knew something to reccomend for what you asked, but I don't.

Link Posted: 12/4/2006 12:50:38 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/4/2006 12:52:51 PM EST by Docsprague]
I painted my cabinets when I remodeled the kitchen. I tried to find some before pics but came up short. It took a very long time to fill in the cracks and scrapes. I used auto body finishing bondo to fill in the cracks. I calked all the corners and used kills for primer. The paint I used is an exterior paint. If I could do it over I would probably just bought new cabinets. I had more time in this case then money I guess. I have to give most of the credit to my dad who did most of the work. Prep work is very time consuming. Lots and lots of sanding, vacuming and tack cloth between coats. My dad did quite a bit of working getting the paint gun to spray right as well. The doors were all done laying flat. Backsides were done first to get the gun to spray right and front sides last.



There is something in this picture that make the cabinets look smeared but they are fine.


Link Posted: 12/4/2006 1:33:37 PM EST
Wow, very nice!

Thanks for the pics!
Link Posted: 12/4/2006 1:45:05 PM EST
If you're trying to just touch up some spots here and there try this stuff.

Arrow Wood Finish

It's not cheap and it does require a little bit of elbow grease, but once you're done

no one will be able to tell where the original finish ends and the repairs begin.

I bought some from the guy selling the stuff at a local gun show and am impressed.

My first try was on a bass guitar neck that had some ugly dings that I had repaired

except you could still see some finish damage. Now even if I tried to show you where

the dings were you can't tell the difference,
Link Posted: 12/4/2006 1:46:02 PM EST

Originally Posted By Docsprague:
I painted my cabinets when I remodeled the kitchen. I tried to find some before pics but came up short. It took a very long time to fill in the cracks and scrapes. I used auto body finishing bondo to fill in the cracks. I calked all the corners and used kills for primer. The paint I used is an exterior paint. If I could do it over I would probably just bought new cabinets. I had more time in this case then money I guess. I have to give most of the credit to my dad who did most of the work. Prep work is very time consuming. Lots and lots of sanding, vacuming and tack cloth between coats. My dad did quite a bit of working getting the paint gun to spray right as well. The doors were all done laying flat. Backsides were done first to get the gun to spray right and front sides last.

i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/CopyofHPIM0160.jpg
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0159.jpg
There is something in this picture that make the cabinets look smeared but they are fine.
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0162.jpg
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0161.jpg
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0163.jpg


Those turned out EXTREMELY well! Probably the best I've seen, including Melanine.

Did you use HVLP or airless?

What was the hardner ratio to account for the porous nature of the wood?
Link Posted: 12/4/2006 1:55:42 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/4/2006 1:59:04 PM EST by wildearp]
Since I have done cabinet refaces a bit, I will add my $0.25. I recommend hanging plastic in appropriate hallways to keep the dust out of the rest of your house when you sand. Completely empty the cabs, remove the doors, and use a 5" random orbital WITH A VACUUM HOSE AND VACUUM. A 50 grit disc will scub down all of the faces in just a few minutes. Be careful on any veneer plywood, as it has a thin layer that is easily scrubbed through. After the 50, you can quickly go to 120 and then 220 and go right to stain and sealer.

Cabinet projects take time in the details of emptying and refilling. The work can go very quickly. After the faces are done, you can start the doors at a more leisurely schedule, or replace them entirely.

When sanding, you will quickly find that the commercial stain and sealer are only on the surface. Most of the time, cabinet shops use laquer based products to apply stain and sealer and have them useable the next day.
Link Posted: 12/4/2006 1:59:01 PM EST
Nine responses thus far and nobody has suggested tannerite?

Hmph. Arfocom is seriously going down hill.....


Fast
Link Posted: 12/5/2006 5:56:53 PM EST
[Last Edit: 12/5/2006 6:03:29 PM EST by Docsprague]

Originally Posted By richardh247:

Originally Posted By Docsprague:
I painted my cabinets when I remodeled the kitchen. I tried to find some before pics but came up short. It took a very long time to fill in the cracks and scrapes. I used auto body finishing bondo to fill in the cracks. I calked all the corners and used kills for primer. The paint I used is an exterior paint. If I could do it over I would probably just bought new cabinets. I had more time in this case then money I guess. I have to give most of the credit to my dad who did most of the work. Prep work is very time consuming. Lots and lots of sanding, vacuming and tack cloth between coats. My dad did quite a bit of working getting the paint gun to spray right as well. The doors were all done laying flat. Backsides were done first to get the gun to spray right and front sides last.

i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/CopyofHPIM0160.jpg
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0159.jpg
There is something in this picture that make the cabinets look smeared but they are fine.
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0162.jpg
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0161.jpg
i78.photobucket.com/albums/j100/docsprague/HPIM0163.jpg


Those turned out EXTREMELY well! Probably the best I've seen, including Melanine.

Did you use HVLP or airless?

What was the hardner ratio to account for the porous nature of the wood?


My dad used a airless but I have no idea what the hardner ratio is. I think the paint was Iowa brand exterior paint. So far I have had no problems with nicks. I had a few when I put the microwave in but that was expected. Not a problem to touch up.
Link Posted: 12/5/2006 6:04:06 PM EST
Or....you could change the type of cabinet entirely by refacing them with veneer in whatever type of wood species you like and new doors in the appropriate wood type to match the frames. The refacing takes water based contact cement, razor knife,and a good combo square. Then finish the new frames with the same type of finish as the new doors (from say Rocklers). It would give you an entirely new look if you wanted to go that route. It's saved a few customers of mine the cost of "new" cabinets.
Just a thought.
Link Posted: 1/3/2007 8:32:43 AM EST
1/3/07 bump ...

So I was walking through the cleaning section of Home Depot 2 weeks ago and found some stuff by Old English that "reconditions" darker (non-blonde) woods. So on a lark I bought a bottle and a bottle of their Lemon oil furniture polish.

I tried it on a few doors and they look brand new! So I think I have my solution... Even if I have to reapply it every couple years it's not that big a deal...

Thought I'd pass it along.
Link Posted: 1/3/2007 9:06:47 AM EST
Thanks for not painting your cabinets, i'd like to slap the lady that lived in my house before us. She was HGTV on crack. She painted over the varnish on the bathroom cabinets with 2 coats of paint to create an "antique" finish that has taken us a couple months to strip and sand to the point that we can finally stain and finish our oak cabinets.

Everything has had to be stripped with chemical stripper twice, brushed with a wire brush, then sanded with 2 grades of sandpaper to get them back to bare wood.
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