Staining Darker - New Kitchen Cabinets

oldbat2beFebruary 26, 2012

I've posted in the kitchen forums, about painting my island kitchen cabinets grey.

They are new (as of last November) but I dislike how red they are. I think they clash with the floors and again -- I simply dislike the color.


Staining darker might be a good compromise. If anyone could speak to what the process would be like, I would appreciate it. They are currently Cherry Specie, Cordovan Finish, 15% Sheen Topcoat, Distressing Level=Level 2. I am concerned about the topcoat; think this will have to be sanded down whether cabinets are painted or stained.

I do have leftover moulding pieces, so can experiment with color.

Thanks in advance,


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The finish has to be removed completely for oil/water/alcohol based stains to work. Just sanding does not remove the finish from grooves and small small areas.

That means having a pro dip shop remove the finish---which means disassembling the cabinets.

I've never used gel stains, simply because gel stains are basically just modified paint. That might be an option for you to try. Gel stains can be applied over a scuffed finish. How well it sticks is something you would need to find out.

If you paint, clean all surfaces with TSP(trisodium phosphate-hardware stores/HI stores). Modern TSP is actually just TS(EPA says phosphates contaminate ground water), but is still the better cleaner.

Then I recommend BIN, made by Zinsser. BIN is very thin---to get into all the grooves/etc---and a shellac based primer that sticks to finishes and provides a good smooth base for paint.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 6:31PM
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To kill the red, you can use a raw umber glaze. After this dries, lock it down with a clear coat.

One problem may be that most kitchens these days are post-catalyzed lacquer. You need to be very careful that whatever you plan to apply will stick to it.

You might want to contact a professional finish shop. There are some pitfalls awaiting the DIY.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:40AM
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Put a new finish coat on as a glaze (colored 'clear' finish).

Adhesion can be a problem, and at least light sanding to scuff the surface is probably going to be required.

If you have a hidden spot you can test.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 11:12AM
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Thanks all.

Handymac, I really appreciated the detail you provided. Unfortunately, it wasn't by any means an easy solution to my issue, so I've been mulling over.

My thought process is to leave the cabinet frame intact, remove most of the external pieces ourselves (panels, trim work, doors, hinges, and drawer fronts), do whatever initial prepwork we can, and take them to a cabinetry shop/paint store to be sprayed and then protected with some finish. Then, we'll re-finish the frame in place somehow. The posts are going to be a pain. DH built a very sturdy steel frame to support the island overhang and those posts aren't going anywhere.

Bobsmyuncle/brickeyee, the idea of a glaze might work very well.

Can anyone suggest what color to use, to move from the current reddish tones, to more of a gray? We do have pieces with which we can experiment.

I contacted the MFR and the current topcoat is a catalyzed conversion varnish. Is this the same as a post-catalyzed varnish?

Thanks -- oldbat2be

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 3:58PM
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I still haven't resolved this issue. Finish is a catalyzed conversion varnish.

I do have a quote from a painter but am reluctant to lose the 'wood' look. Plan either way would be to remove as many pieces as possible (drawer fronts, panels, doors, trim work) and give to painter to take to his shop to sand, prime, repaint and refinish. Then, I would do something similar to the remainder of the island carcass.

Goal is to get to a more normal cherry finish. More honey, more walnut, less red. Obviously, I will need to experiment.

I have read that it is possible to tint a conversion varnish to just about any color. Would a new coat of this, tinted to the right shade, solve my problem and perhaps be the easiest solution?

Is this something I could partially do (i.e., the shell part) or should the whole job be left to the professionals? And if I were to experiment to get to the right color (I have plenty of left over trim work), what product(s) should I use?

Many thanks,


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 2:46PM
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