should I update my 1996 laminate counters & paint/stain cabinets

vivvilaFebruary 26, 2012

before I put house on the market? I am in chester cty PA and have a 4bd colonial on over an acre. I have painted every room and the only 2 suggestions of the appraiser that came through yesterday was to put tile down in hall bath (sheet linoleum now)which is inexpensive and I can do myself. her other suggestion to 'step it up' is to replace the almond laminate counters. they are a little scratched up but not in bad shape. the cabinets are light oak and all wood, very good quality but very outdated looking. in reading on some other forums I thought about either painting them white or staining them dark, java colored. i dont think that putting granite with the cabients as they look now will 'go'. going to try to upload a few pics of what it looks like now. thanks for any suggestions! ok can't figure out how to add a picture :(

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This question seems to come up a lot!

Personally, I'd do it, especially since your appraiser has suggested it. I think you'll find you can't stain the cupboards...or at least, you can't without totally stripping off the existing finish. Painting is easy if you are already an experienced painter (which it sounds like you are). Check out the kitchen and remodeling forums for the how-to on this. (I did it with my outdated and worn oak cupboards and although it took 2 coats of primer over lightly sanded cupboards, and 3-4 coats of a cream-coloured satin paint, it was well worth it!)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 1:36PM
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If you can paint the cabinets so that they look nice then, yes, I would go with the granite. On the other hand, I definitely wouldn't put granite on the old oak cabinets. People who care about the granite won't like it being put on dated cabinets. I would probably be more inclined to paint them white rather than stain them dark but might depend on how the kitchen looks overall.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Would just replacing the doors and drawer fronts be an option? A high quality oak cabinet really doesn't go out of style and all the wear and the dated look is on the fronts.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 1:18PM
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If you had to prioritize between selling as fast as possible and making as much money as possible, what would you pick?

Updated houses tend to sell faster, but you may not get your money back from any major upgrades. Painting is a cheap option that will pay off if you have the skills. Granite? Usually not.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 1:27PM
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You can replace the laminate countertops with some nice-looking pre-fab laminate slabs from the big box stores for a few hundred dollars. I'd definitely do that over granite, which will tend to look like lipstick on a pig.

Some people do actually like oak, and others won't mind it, so if there are no scratches on them and you can clean them so they sparkle, update the hardware and put new laminate down, that may be the biggest bang for your buck. A lot depends on what your competition looks like, of course. If, to compete, you feel you do need to do more than make them shine, then I think painting or staining would be a good idea if you can make it look nice. The choice of light vs. dark depends on the lighting in your room. If you can post photos we can vote.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 2:25PM
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You could be talking about my kitchen :) About a year ago, I took all off our oak cabinets down and refinished them and changed out the hardware. It was a PITA but they look a TON better. I'm still undecided on the counters (also an almond laminate). If we did redo them we'd do another laminate -granite just doesn't make sense in our market.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 6:23PM
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I'm with weedy. It's surprising how attractive the current prefab laminate countertops are now at places like HD.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 9:17PM
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It really all comes down to what your competition has, and then being comperable or one step above.
Bill's statement above is good too.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 7:43AM
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I have painted and gel stained cabinets java. The gel stain is amazing and much easier than painting. You do not need to remove the old finish and the finished cabinets look brand new, You should get General Finishes gel stain in Java not minwax. Look on the kitchen forum for instructions by Celticmoon. Java stained cabinets, new hardware (try eBay for hardware) and light granite look laminate or Santa Cecilia or similar granite would be beautiful.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2012 at 2:04PM
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I saw a new kit advertised in my SILs "Handyman" magazine that is supposed to be at Lowe's and HD. It is a 2 or 3 step kit that easily renews the finish without all the painting and stripping. Check it out. It had a good review in the blurb.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2012 at 11:41PM
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What brand of gel stains are people using?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 11:37PM
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General Finishes in Java don't try the mInwax variety. Minwax tends to dissolve the previous coat. Look on the kitchen forum for instructions.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 2:12PM
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