Restoring the finish on an oak bathroom vanity

janralixOctober 14, 2011

I have a 20-year-old oak bathroom vanity. Originally it had a rather blondish light finish, and still does on the sides. However, over the years, water and cleaning has removed much of the finish from the front drawer and door surfaces, leaving a lot of bare wood that is much lighter (almost white) than the original finish.

I would like to restore the finish to its original look but have no clue as to how to go about it.

My first thought (dangerous, I know, for a neophyte) was to remove the drawers and doors (and their hardware) and start sanding with a paper just coarse enough to take everything down to the bare wood. Even if that is the correct first step, after that I have no idea what to do next. I did do a little googling (also dangerous) and then thought the next step might be applying a sanding sealer, lightly sanding again with a very fine paper, then applying a very light oak stain (starting VERY light, so I could move on to a darker stain if necessary to match the rest of the cabinetry).

Am I even on the right track? Also, when it comes to applying stain (or whatever), should I use a bristle brush, a foam brush, a rag, or what? And what kind of stain (or whatever) do I need to use? Polyurethane? Something else?

Any step-by-step advice would be greatly appreciated.

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It's going to be hard to match the stain, on the newly sanded parts to the rest of the vanity. If it were me I would sand everything down, put on a stain you like, and then a couple top coats of polyurethane, or spar varnish.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 12:38AM
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Scrub the cabinets thoroughly, first with soapy water and then with mineral spirits to remove any :crud". Then sand them lightly to smooth them.

Use a slightly darker gel stain (General Finishes is great), and you can go right over the old finish. Top it with some wipe-on General Finishes top coat.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 3:46PM
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This is a bathroom (lots of moisture) and the topcoat is very important. I use and like many of General Finishes' products, However, they are not all recommended for moist or damp environments. Their wipe-on lines are usually not. I use their waterborne finishes and can recommend the Enduro line from GF. They have some brush-on finishes that are very good with wet. I'm sure you don't want to do this again in 6-12 months.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 8:48PM
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Thanks, all. I'll give it a try.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 5:44PM
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