Seeking a darker finish for wooden cabinets

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Old 08-19-10, 10:09 AM
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Seeking a darker finish for wooden cabinets

My current kitchen cabinets are maple with a very light finish, I was seeking a cherry mahogany color. I've done some research and I've read anything ranging from stripping the current finish with paint stripper, to sanding, to just going over the current finish with a Minwax Polyshade and doing no prep work. I've never done anything like this before, so can someone please help me out here and possibly reference a good tutorial, good stain brands, etc?

Here is the current cabinet color:


This is what I'm going for (something like this):
 
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Old 08-19-10, 10:31 AM
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Polyshades could work but you have to be careful with the application to make sure you don't have color differences due to overlapping brush strokes and the like.

Light sanding (220 grit) followed by removal of the dust is required between coats of polyurethane

I haven't used it but a gel stain might also be an option
 
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Old 08-19-10, 11:10 AM
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I don't know that you can alter the color that much with tinted poly and still be able to see any grain. Applying a tinted poly still requires some prep although generally a good cleaning and light sanding is sufficient.
 
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Old 08-19-10, 03:46 PM
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Thanks for the replies guys. As far as Polyshade goes, I'm not saying i'm for using it, this is just what I read as one of the ways to do get a darker shade. Do you guys think I should go about this in a different route? Maybe just sand and then re-stain with the color that I'm going for? Also, if anyone has a good step-by-step guide, I would greatly appreciate it.

Additional, I've been reading that maple wood doesn't stain well. Is there any truth to this? Has anyone attempted and has some pics that they could provide?
 

Last edited by chibear1986; 08-19-10 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 08-20-10, 04:57 AM
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Golly, it didn't even dawn on me that it was maple

Maple does not take stain well! it's best with no or a light color stain. I doubt you could get your cabinets that dark by any means other than applying a tinted poly/varnish....... and that much color [multiple coats] would likely look like a semi-transparent paint

Another option would be to reface the cabinets.
 
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Old 08-20-10, 11:42 AM
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Thanks marksr!

In your professional opinion you don't think this is something worth attempting? I'm not a stickler for perfectly finished cabinets, but at the same time I don't want half ass looking cabinets. Additionally, the color in the picture provided (of the desired look) doesn't have to be that dark, I'm just looking for a cherry mahogany like color (a lighter one then the pic is fine as well). FYI, the picture of the current cabinet colors is a pic of my actual kitchen/cabinets -- not sure if that was clear from my original post.

If you think this is something that is do-able, can someone please refer me to a good step-by-step tutorial please?
 
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Old 08-20-10, 02:10 PM
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you can do the poly-stain. but it is difficult to get a nice finish (note: i did a lot of oak, not maple). and it is a PITA even when things go well.

my advice : if you have the money, have the cabinets refaced.
that way you get exactly what you want.

or. paint them the color you want. you won't get any wood grain.
but maple doesn't have much grain anyway.
 
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Old 08-20-10, 02:25 PM
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oh. the poly-stain isn't very durable when used like that.
 
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Old 08-20-10, 03:08 PM
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I'm sure what C.O. based the lack of durability on but all polyshades is, is clear poly with tint added. It will wear just like regular poly except as it wears, some color may also wear off with it. That's why it's advisable to apply a coat of clear poly over the tinted poly once the desired color is achieved. That way the clear will get the wear and not the tint.

It's feasible to darken you cabinets with polyshades. You first need to make sure that poly is compatible with your current finish, the odds are that it is, but it's better to be safe than sorry The backside of a cabinet door is a good place to test.

While polyshades isn't difficult to apply - it's not forgiving! It must be applied evenly [in order to get an even color], over brushing, lap marks, missed spots, runs, etc. must be avoided. Sometimes these types of mistakes can be sanded down and recoated but there's no guarantee it will come out perfect. The darker the tint is relative to the current color, the harder it is to get right. I prefer to spray tinted poly when I can but it can be done with a brush.

Before applying poly, you need to sand lightly and remove all the dust. When applying more than 1 coat, let the 1st coat dry properly, lightly sand, dust and recoat.

If you decide to paint, use a solvent based primer and then you can apply a couple of coats of enamel [your choice - oil, latex or waterborne]
 
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Old 08-20-10, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by marksr View Post
I'm sure what C.O. based the lack of durability on

but all polyshades is, is clear poly with tint added. It will wear just like regular poly except as it wears, some color may also wear off with it. That's why it's advisable to apply a coat of clear poly over the tinted poly once the desired color is achieved. That way the clear will get the wear and not the tint.

I
experience

its not wear. its, umm, how do i say. well, idk. but, if it is hit by something, the complete coat of the ploy will flake off, and you will see the original finish.
 
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Old 08-20-10, 03:57 PM
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That sounds like an adhesion issue - sanding is required between coats of poly to ensure good adhesion
 
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Old 08-20-10, 06:48 PM
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Poly tint

I had light oak cabinets and used an antique walnut poly tint to make them a little darker. I was quite pleased with the results. Like others said ...dont know if you could go as dark as you would like in the photo you posted using the tints, although they do make some pretty dark tints. Only way to really know is to take a small door and do the back of it and see what it looks like. You do have to work a little faster with it than you do when using paint. I only had some problems in good even poly application on the larger wood areas of the cabinets like under the bar and the cabinet back over the bar area. The doors and cabinet frames went OK. I finished it out with a coat of clear semi gloss. It looked so much better !! Good luck !!
 
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Old 08-21-10, 06:17 AM
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"its not wear. its, umm, .......... if it is hit by something, the complete coat of the ploy will flake off, and you will see the original finish.

As Mitch said, that's an adhesion issue caused by lack of or improper prep. Anytime you go over poly/varnish the surface needs to be free of wax/polish, dirt [including finger oils] and either wiped down with a liquid deglosser or sanded lightly.
 
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Old 08-21-10, 07:43 AM
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i did clean and sand. but like anything else, its not 1005 fool proof. i have other doors i did the same way, and they are holding up nicely.
 

Last edited by marksr; 08-21-10 at 12:46 PM. Reason: removed unneeded quote
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Old 08-21-10, 08:27 AM
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poly tint

Originally Posted by gqlefty View Post
I had light oak cabinets and used an antique walnut poly tint to make them a little darker. I was quite pleased with the results. Like others said ...dont know if you could go as dark as you would like in the photo you posted using the tints, although they do make some pretty dark tints. Only way to really know is to take a small door and do the back of it and see what it looks like. You do have to work a little faster with it than you do when using paint. I only had some problems in good even poly application on the larger wood areas of the cabinets like under the bar and the cabinet back over the bar area. The doors and cabinet frames went OK. I finished it out with a coat of clear semi gloss. It looked so much better !! Good luck !!
PS........ If you decide to attempt this on your cabinets......DONT try and get the shade tint all in one coat!!! It may take you at least 2 or 3 light coats to achieve a look you are satisfied with. Then finish it with a clear poly coat.
 
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Old 08-21-10, 06:41 PM
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So from what I understand the steps are as following to re-finish my cabinets:

1) Sand down the cabinets with 80 grit, then 120 grit
2) Wipe down the cabinets to remove dust and go over with mineral spirits
3) Apply tinted poly shade coat,
let dry for 15 minutes
wipe down access poly,
wait 6 - 8 hours,
sand by hand with light grit,
wipe down with rag
apply another coat of poly
continue process until desired color
4) Same process as above, except with clear poly shade (2 layer should be sufficient)

Are the steps above correct? Or am i missing something?

Finally, I've read gel stain is also a good alternative. Can anybody chime in here?
 
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Old 08-22-10, 04:48 AM
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Skip the 80 grit, 120-150 should be fine for the initial sanding. Be sure to sand with the direction of the grain to prevent scratches that might show thru the new finish.

Unlike regular stain, tinted poly doesn't have the excess removed. You apply it and then let it dry. Lightly sand with 220 grit before applying another coat. 1 coat of clear poly should be sufficient.

I didn't like gel stain the 1st time I used it [I'm an old school painter ] I've never tried it on wood that's been sealed/finished. perhaps someone else will chime in about the use of gel stains.
 
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Old 08-22-10, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by chibear1986 View Post
My current kitchen cabinets are maple with a very light finish, I was seeking a cherry mahogany color. I've done some research and I've read anything ranging from stripping the current finish with paint stripper, to sanding, to just going over the current finish with a Minwax Polyshade and doing no prep work. I've never done anything like this before, so can someone please help me out here and possibly reference a good tutorial, good stain brands, etc?

Here is the current cabinet color:


This is what I'm going for (something like this):
That looks like a satin finish in your photo. I did that in my bath and it looks good. All my cabinets were oak. I would do a test area first, that way you can see the results before you tackle the whole job. Good luck!!
 
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Old 08-22-10, 10:42 AM
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After reading a post that I found on a different forum I'm pretty inspired/condfident to knock this out by myself. I think I'm going to go with a combo of water and gel stain.

Here's the post:
http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load...093520899.html
 

Last edited by chibear1986; 08-22-10 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 08-22-10, 03:48 PM
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Go for it

Originally Posted by chibear1986 View Post
After reading a post that I found on a different forum I'm pretty inspired/condfident to knock this out by myself. I think I'm going to go with a combo of water and gel stain.

Here's the post:
Celticmoon, are you out there? Gel stain question (OT) - Kitchens Forum - GardenWeb
Great....shoot us some photos when youre done!!!
 
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Old 08-23-10, 01:51 PM
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I should get the project underway in a few weeks, I'll be sure to post some pics and my experiences with the process. I'll probably do the fire place first and then the kitchen cabinets. In the meantime, if anyone has anything else to add or if I've maybe missed a step, feel free to advise.
 

Last edited by chibear1986; 08-23-10 at 02:28 PM.
 

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