new stained doors over painted cabinets

greener00March 18, 2014

My wife and would really like to update our kitchen with refacing. Our 1965 rambler has I assume the original face frame cabinets that are painted and remodeled at some point with white melamine doors. The refacing quote I got seemed fairly expensive for our small kitchen.

Has anyone done lightly stained doors over painted cabinets? I like the look of the lightly stained doors compared to painted.

I would rather put the money into the counter top we want replacing the light purple formica.


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Buy new cabinets. You won't get a decent bond on paint. It won't be too far in price from the refacing quote that you got if you don't go high end.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 5:24PM
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My preference right now is to reuse my existing cabinets but the old doors have to go. I do not want to change the layout. We painted the cabinets the current dark purple. They were gray when we bought the house. The refacing we were quoted used 1/4" plywood overlay on the sides and 1/4" solid wood for the faces so there wouldn't be an issue with a veneer not bonding.

Cabinet doors first, the fluorescent lights will be replaced with recessed lighting next week and at some point new counters and tearing down the fake brick tiles.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 7:35PM
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If you don't want to reface your cabinets and replace the doors, you have to strip off every bit of paint, sand, stain and polyurethane.
Stain can't go over paint, there's no way for it to soak into the wood. That's how stain works, it soaks in and you wipe off the excess. With the paint, it will just smear.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 7:59PM
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Maybe you could try a faux wood grain using paint. Patience is an added bonus. Here's a website w/instructions, but there are several more.

Here is a link that might be useful: here

    Bookmark   March 20, 2014 at 9:46PM
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I think there was some confusion about what I am trying to do. I've looked at replacement doors online and am wondering if I put on replacement doors that were stained over painted cabinets would that look bad? Would it be best to paint the doors to match the cabinets which will also be repainted. Has anyone done stained doors on painted cabinets or is that a bad kinda retro?


    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 1:15AM
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I'm sorry but I'm with live_wire_oak. My quote from a refacing company also came back quite high. Replacing wasn't that much higher than refacing if you stick with the basics, and I chose to replace. Doors are the biggest cost of new cabinets. Those cabinets are not worth that expense. If you're looking for a temporary fix, repaint. Taking cabinets down to bare wood is a huge project. I know because I've been working for quite awhile on stripping a free standing shelf system.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 1:29AM
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Refacing is expensive because it is very labor intensive. I think stained doors on painted frames would look odd, sorry just my opinion. If you don't want to replace the cabinets, then I would paint them. To completely strip off all the paint to get it ready to stain is a huge job. You would have to get the wood completely clean of any trace of the paint, so much work and mess. If you really want stained cabinets, I agree with the other posts, better to replace than try to strip and stain. I don't like those faux wood grain stain over paint looks, its very hard to get them to look good.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 6:42AM
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I agree, I think there was a little misunderstanding. You never said you wanted stained cabinets. I believe you mentioned refacing only to say that you'd gotten a quote and decided against doing that either. So it's just a matter of new doors over the existing painted cabinets, and you are wondering how it would look to have stained wood doors on painted boxes.

Most of the photos I can find online are the other way around: white doors on wood boxes. I'll link one below that is the same concept you are talking about, but that kitchen is a very different style than yours so (obviously) they won't end up looking the same. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that a fellow who painted his cabinets purple is not afraid of marching to the beat of a different drummer. :) (I say that in the most complimentary way.) So if a particular idea is something most people wouldn't do, that doesn't mean it isn't right for you.

I think for the two-tone thing to work, it needs to look like a deliberate design element; otherwise it might look like you just happened to find a set of doors at the Habitat Restore. I wish I had the design chops to advise you how to do this. One thing I have noticed in other two-tone kitchens is that both of the colors are tied into the kitchen in other places. If you painted your cabinet boxes white, used a white backsplash, and put in a nice-looking white countertop, that could all tie together while your wood doors could echo your floor. Most of the kitchen photos with doors and cabinets different (the other way round) have a very modern sleek vibe. This might not really fit your kitchen, but if you kept all your elements simple and plain I think it would have a better chance of working than if you used (for example) doors with fancy applied molding.

Before you do this, it's only fair to agree with the cabinet-replacment posters and suggest that you have a hard think about your layout and the function of your kitchen (especially think about drawers in the lowers). Replacing them entirely isn't a fun thought -- I was once in the same place you are -- but it doesn't have to be enormously expensive. Our kitchen works much better with a layout change and new Ikea cabinets than it did before, and it cost much MUCH less than what you will read is average for new kitchens. But of course that's still more than just doing doors/backsplash/countertops, so it's for you to decide. The tipping point for me was when I sat down and thought about the things I liked about my old kitchen (not spending a ton of money was on that list) vs the things that were really annoying that I'd gotten used to, but that could be changed for the better with a new layout and new cabinets. And then of course you have to work out the budget and see if it's possible.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Here is a link that might be useful: Wood and white kitchen

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:02AM
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I would think you either ran out of steam to finish the job or paint. Maybe I would jump to that conclusion because of my mom's projects over the years, but sorry that is what I see when I look at kitchens like this.

Contemporary Kitchen by Los Angeles Kitchen & Bath Remodelers td[s]

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:30AM
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I just had another thought. Butcherblock countertops, white backsplash, white cabinet boxes. If you decided you didn't like the wood doors on white boxes after all, you could just paint the doors white to match the boxes, and then you'd still have the natural wood element that you like in your kitchen. And your kitchen would also look like mine. [big grin] In any case, if you decide on new doors for sure, you will always have the option of painting them later on.

Look at me assuming that a couple who chose purple last time is now planning something as mundane as white. ha.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:31AM
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You could replace the doors with wood doors and I think you would also need to cover the end panels with real wood.

Then do faux wood grain on the front cabinet trim. I really think you could come VERY close to the color and look of real wood in the small areas that would show.

Not hard to do a trial area and see what it would look like. Buy a single door, finish it, and paint a small area of trim.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 9:57AM
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Are you 100% against painted doors?
IMHO, painted cabinets and stained doors in your small kitchen would look too "chopped up", just like the current scheme does. I think the cabinets and doors both painted white or cream would make your small kitchen appear a little bigger and brighter. (That purple sucks all of the light out of the room.)

Do you really hate the melamine? Has it yellowed, cracked or lifted? If not, until your budget allows, how about just painting the cabinets for now (take a door to the paint store and ask them to match.)

With a lighter backdrop, the mauve countertop may be more tolerable until you are able to replace it.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 11:53AM
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Kind of like this?

What colors were you thinking? I can actually see this depending on what style of doors, color, and color of painted frame.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2014 at 3:58PM
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