Is it possible to stain these birch kitchen cabinets dark brown?


Old 08-07-14, 08:05 PM
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Is it possible to stain these birch kitchen cabinets dark brown?

I'm in the process of remodeling my first home (a small condo), and it has the generic birch cabinets you see if all the apartments around here. They're in very good condition, and I'd like to know if it'd be possible to stain them a dark brown. If so, what does the process entail? Doing it myself, how long do you think it would take, and what would you estimate the supplies would cost?

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Old 08-08-14, 03:42 AM
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To start with you'd need to completely strip off ALL of the old finish as sealed wood will not accept stain. This is best accomplished by using a chemical stripper to remove the majority and then finishing up with sandpaper.

It's been a long time since I've stained birch and I don't remember for sure but I doubt you can stain it that dark. To get that look with birch you may have to stain it as dark as you can, apply a coat of sealer or poly, sand and then apply a coat or two of a tinted poly [like Minwax's PolyShades] or tinted varnish to finish getting the desired color. It's always a good idea to protect the tinted poly with a coat of clear poly so the color coat won't wear away over time.

The material costs are minimal but it will take a lot of labor.

I just looked at your top pic again, are you sure those are birch cabinets? They look like maple and maple does not accept dark stains!
Old 08-08-14, 03:46 AM
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All the hardware will need to come off.
All doors marked so they go back in the same locations.
It all needs to be degreased before sanding or you just grind in the oil.
Needs to all be sanded back to bare wood. Caution, sand to much and you'll go through the top ply.
It would be best to do all the sanding on the doors outside or in a garage.
I tried 4 times to get your pictures to load and failed, (most likely a problem on my end)
As far as time plan on a week, cost about $100.00 for supply's. More if you do not have the proper tools.
Going to need several different types of sanders, lots of sand paper.
The main sander you'll need is a random orbital with a vacuum attachment.
I only use Mika brand paper I buy off of Amazon. It does not seem to load up like box store paper does.
Beware, dark cabinets will make the whole room look darker and will show every speck of dirt and hand prints.
Going to need 3, coats of sealer, light sanding between coats with 220 grit or finer. The more coats the longer the finish last.
Do not try and use Poly shades! Unless your going to go for a blotchy finish.
Use Gel stain.
Use wood conditioner before staining.
Do not use a water based stain, it raises the grain.
Every speck of old sealer needs to go or the stains not going to soak in.
Old 08-08-14, 04:08 AM
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PolyShades or any tinted poly is an effective tool for adding more color to an already sealed substrate. It should never be used over raw or unsealed wood unless being sprayed. It can be tricky to apply as any lap marks, runs, drips, etc will have more color than the surrounding area. Thin or missed spots will be lighter. It doesn't touch up, you can't go back and rebrush an area thinking it will be better.

Wood conditioners slightly seal the wood and always result in the stain being lighter than it would be if the conditioner hadn't been used. Wood conditioner is only needed when staining soft woods like pine - it makes the stain color more uniform.

Often when removing the existing finish by sanding alone you falsely think you've removed it all when you haven't. Stain can not be absorbed anywhere there is still a hint of the old finish. Chemical stripping is more effective with less risk of sanding thru the veneer. Chemical stripping is not enough - you have to finish with sandpaper!
Old 08-08-14, 11:08 AM
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Thanks for the info guys. It sounds like this is one job that'd be best left to the pro's, or at least have someone come take a look, to determine which process would be best. I really, really don't want to screw them up before I can afford to replace them if I do
Old 08-08-14, 11:40 AM
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If you don't like the look, but the cabinets are in good shape, you may want to look at buying new doors and refacing the frames. Much cheaper than replacement and not really that expensive if you do some online searching.
Old 08-08-14, 11:41 AM
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This can be a DIY job but I think it's much more work than you intuited.

Personally, I wouldn't mess with them but I'm not the one who has to live with them.
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