More Kitchen Deliberations: Attempting to Stain the Cabinets Darker

I'm still torn about what to do with our kitchen cabinets.  I like the idea of painting them (plus I think it will require less sanding than re-staining them), but I do love the look of warm dark wood.  Now I'm starting to think that I may want to strip and re-stain the cabinets in the kitchen - such a painful and long process - I must be crazy to do that again.

Here's a new "very rough" inspiration board.

Sources:  CabinetsLight Fixture,  Curtains,  Chair,  Table
When I refinished the cabinets in our townhouse, I simply sanded the cabinets down to the bare wood and then used two coats of stain.  However, one of the downsides of oak is all of the grain that you can still see in the wood - even with darker stain.  I think that keeps the cabinets from looking like they were professionally refinished.  Here's a shot of the cabinets in our townhouse.  See how the grain shows through.


I've also done a couple of small tests with gel stain.  I purchased the american walnut color from general finishes and tested three coats on one of the bathroom drawers upstairs and ended up with the results below.  The gel stain didn't create a completely even finish and still shows the heavy grains in the oak.  On the bright side, it didn't require me to use a power sander to have the stain adhere to the cabinets which is a plus - I just hand sanded.



Over the weekend, while picking up some other items at Lowe's, I decided to pick up some stain as well.  I tried one coat of Rustoleum's Carrington over the gel stain and I'm excited about the initial results.

The color is a great warm brown with a tint of red to it.  Using this as a top coat created a smooth, even coat that covers a lot of the grain, giving it a more professional finish.

Here's the initial shot - gorgeous, don't you think?!


Obviously before deciding to do this in our kitchen, I want to try it out on the remainder of the vanity to get a better feel for what the final finish will look like, but I'm very optimistic and our kitchen may be wood yet!!  It seems that the best technique is to use the gel stain almost like a primer and then use the Rustoleum stain for the finish coat.  Check back next week to see how it all turns out!


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