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Question DetailsAsked on 12/12/2013

hi i have solid oak kitchen cabinets i sand them to bear wood how to staine them and sealer ( red oak ) thsanks

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2 Answers


You should go to a website of a good stain manufacturer like Varathane or MinWax, or to a show like THis Old House or Hometime and view one of their videos on cabinet refinishing.

It is not simple, and requires removal of a fair amouont of material,, because if you do not get through ALL the prior stain, you will end up with an inconsistent penetration on the new stain.

One thing you can do, though you will have to test on a scrap or hidden spot,, is use a high-build stain-filler - this is a solid-body stain that wipes on for antiquing and such - rather than penetrating deep into the grain to give the color it acts more like a paint - though you will still have to sand the wood down to no more than a light residual stain color to get uniform results.

I hate to say it, but Red Oak is one of the toughest to restain, because the grain already has two different colors - the regular oak color main body, which takes stain deeper, and the reddish banding, so any failure to sand dwn to the bottom of the prior stain really makes for wide variation in the final color, the same as happens on Cherry - you can end up with very dark stain on part of it, but very little penetration on the rest, giving a really streaky finish.

I really hate to tell a homeowner to shy away from a home improvement project unless it is due to a safety consideration or just plain biting off too big a job for one person, but if you have not refinished cabinets before I would say this is not the way to learn.

In addition to refinishing, another alternative which you might be able to do yourself, if you have some woodoworking and finishing skills, is fully sanding just the curved surfaces that will be exposed, then sand to provide grip on the rest of the surfaces and use contat cement glued red oak veneer to overlay the flat surfaces, transition sand to any rounded surfaces, then touch sand and refinish the entire thing. The veneer comes both as sheets of wood veneer, and as peel and stick product, as well of course as imitation wood, which would essentially be making a laminate.

Perhaps Don or Todd will jump in here with their thoughts on whether they think this is a viaqble do it yourself job for a normal homeowner.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


LCD is correct in that red oak is one of the harder ones to stain, I have even seen goofs by some of the cabinet companies I use. One thought if you really want to do this project is to remove all doors and drawer fronts (I would scratch a number on the back as to where they go) and take them to a furniture stripping place. They could do a better job getting the finish out of all the nooks and cranies. You then would be left with just the flat areas to strip which will be a chore in it self. Once stripped and sanded check with the companies LCD reccomended and get a color you like and get your stain as well as the same companies stain controller. Stain control is a product that evens out the absorption of the stain on difficult woods (I even used it on my pine doors) start out on the back of the drawer fronts as this will be hidden and see how you do and how you like it.

Like LCD said it is not an easy do it yourself job and have seen way to many failures by well meaning homeowners. If it is just scratches and such that are the problem you could do just a screening (scuff sanding) and apply a new coat of poly. The othe choice would be to get a price on cabinet refacing where they will change the doors and drawer fronts and apply matching veneer to the cabinet faces and sides.


Answered 6 years ago by ContractorDon

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