Unfinished Maple Bookcases: Paint, Ladquer, Gel Stain . . . ???
I have purchased some new, unfinished maple bookcases that grouped together look like a nice built-in unit. The quality of the maple is excellent: it is cabinet-top-end-furniture grade with hardly any knots and very fine, light grain. They have been completely sanded.
My first instinct and desire, since I would like these to look built-in, would be to stain and paint them. The guru at my local paint store, who thus far has never steered me wrong, told me I could paint them if I wanted--he advised that, since they have been "finish" sanded, to lightly sand them with 500 or 600 paper, use an oil-based white primer and them either an oil or latex enamel paint--he said that all the priming and staining could be applied with good foam rollers. That appeals to me because I'll be doing this mostly by myself and, at the moment, have a bum wrist.
Another friend of mine, who used to restore furniture, advised against painting. He said it was extremely difficult even for the best professional to get a good white paint finish on unfinished furniture. He advised the same sanding (500 to 600) but strongly suggested I use lacquer or a stain with a polyurethene coat over it, as long as I was happy with the look of the "bare" maple or a stained maple.
Which advice should I follow? And, to throw another question in, can I use a gel stain (again, thinking of the wrist).
One more question: Can I use the foam rollers with stains or must I use brushes?
Last question: How many coats?
Thank you so much for your help!