advice on staining & Lacquer from the pros

xterraFebruary 10, 2009

we are finishing our kitchen living room remodel, we have 8 doors, 10 windows, which are pine inside, double hung, with trim all around all set about 8" deep. we also have a fireplace, with bookcases on each side, custom built on site and another cabinet with built in wine rack, 6' by 12" and 4' high. also a queen murphy bed cabinet on another wall, all made of unstained cherry plywood, with cherry doors.we want to match our new cherry cabinets that were bought from Home Depot. we have a couple of bids from local companies one at $6800. the other at $4800. They are both using Gemini vinyl sealer, and gemini pre cat satin lacquer. we are using stain from the cabinet maker. My questions are, are these prices in line, and is this a job a fairly competant diy'r, who has never stained before, can accomplish? both companies say to complete involve 2 people about 10 days to complete. I am a firefighter and have the time. we still have to buy countertops, which I have to sub out, and hard wood flooring , which I will put down. end of 6 month project, and money is tight. thanks Bob

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I don't do large-scale finishing projects like yours so I don't know how reasonable the prices you've been quoted are. As to whether it's a DIY project, the vinyl sealer and the precat lacquer are both sprayed finishes. Applying them requires some fairly pricey equipment, and it takes a lot of practice to get good at it. There are certainly ways to DIY a good finish using different materials, but you shouldn't plan on doing it exactly the way the pros would.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 7:45PM
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yes, I should have said they plan on spraying the sealer, we have a person who works for our finish carpenter, sanding and such, he has stained quit a bit and will help us stain. costing about 15 dollars an hour and will help us tape off and sand. what are other options to get the same look. one company said they would charge $3000 just to do the spraying if we stain. thanks Bob

    Bookmark   February 10, 2009 at 7:55PM
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It's hard to know what 'the same look' means -- we can't see the cabinetry you're trying to match.

If you are hoping to stain and topcoat pine windows and cherry plywood to match commercially finished cabinetry, there's not going a single process you apply to everything.

Get some scraps of the material you'll be finishing and practice. Try your stain on a piece of pine, a piece of cherry plywood and a piece of the solid cherry. Compare the color to your HD cabinets; you may find that you need to choose a slightly different color of stain, or use different techniques for the pine than for the cherry parts. Once you've got the color close, topcoat your test pieces with your film finish of choice. There are a lot of options in film finishes -- polyurethane, wiping varnish, lacquer, shellac and some water-based finishes than can be wiped or brushed on. Some are easier to apply, some more durable, etc. None of them is going to look just like your HD cabinets' factory finish right out of the can. You'll have to play around until you find a combination of stain, topcoat and technique that gets you where you want to go.

If you decide that professional finishing is sounding like a better idea, be sure to have the finisher prepare finish samples before they start on your new woodwork. We periodically get questions from homeowners wondering how to un-stain large amounts of woodwork because they neglected this step.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 5:14AM
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thanks jon, we do understand that we wont match exactly, one of the bidders we have has done that. we, after consideration of the time involved,and wanting a professional job, and wanting to be able to move back in the space, have decided to take the lower bid. this man worked for the higher bidder for 8 years prior to starting out on his own, we have also visited several new homes he has finished in the last year and his skill was evident. I will try to save money elsewhere. thanks for your input. Bob

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 2:43PM
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