Gel Stain v. Paint
I have new factory finished (catalyzed conversion finish) maple cabinets with a light "caramel" stain throughout my house. I'd like to turn these into a dark espresso color. I cleaned and lightly sanded and applied General Finishes Gel Stain in Java. In order to get the color dark enough, I needed to apply 2-3 coats and then used GF Gel Stain Topcoat. While I love the resulting color, the cabinets look painted rather than stained. So, I'm wondering: is there any advantage to using the Gel Stain v. painting on these maple cabinets? Is one easier to apply? Does one have a more long lasting finish?
I also had the original cabinet manufacturer strip and re-stain a sample door and, while I haven't seen the results, they told me the door looks painted (no grain visible).