The Stain Test: Results
So, before I share a tutorial with you, I want to show you two different techniques that I used to try re-staining our cabinets.
The only real difference in these two techniques is how the doors are sanded - simple, I know but it has made a pretty significant difference. I'm going to show you both processes through each step.
Step One: Sand Doors
Below on the left is the power sanded door. I used 60 grit sandpaper followed by 120 grit sandpaper to remove the finish on the door.
On the right is a very lightly hand sanded door, where I used 120 grit sand paper to roughen the finish.
Step Two: Gel Stain Coat One
On the left is the power sanded door with one coat of gel stain. When I put the stain on, I immediately got nervous because it went on very dark and uneven - which normally wouldn't be a problem but I'm not sure how additional layers are going to look on the door.
On the right is the hand sanded door. Here, I rubbed on gel stain and then began to wipe it off in the direction of the grain. You can tell that the door is slightly darker, but not significantly.
Step Three: Gel Stain Coat Two
So, here was to hoping that getting a second coat of gel stain on the power sanded door would help even out the color - which I think it did a little but, but it's still VERY blotchy.
The hand sanded door is showing a lot more progress in terms of color (which is sort of hard to see in the picture) and it's staining much more evenly which is the goal - I'd rather do more coats to get an even color than less coats that looks like it was DIY.
STEP FOUR: Apply Stain
With two coats of gel stain as a primer, I decided to try to apply a coat of the stain - Rustoleum's Carrington. However, instead of using a rag I used a brush for this step. Here are two initial shots of the stain fresh on the doors.
The power sanded doors accepted the stain in a more even coat and it didn't have any brush marks from stroking the stain on. I was pleasantly surprised at how even and nice this final coat looked. The two images on the left are power sanded.
The hand sanded door accepted the stain fine, but it was much more difficult to get a nice even finish on the doors since the brush tended to leave small brush strokes which hopefully you can see in the close up shot below. The two images on the right are hand sanded.