Unfinished Maple Bookcases: Paint v. Stain . . . ???
I have purchased some new, unfinished maple bookcases with beautiful molding that grouped together look like a nice built-in unit. The quality of the maple is excellent: it is cabinet-top-end-furniture grade with hardly any knots and very fine, light grain. They have been completely sanded.
My first instinct and desire, since I would like these to look built-in, would be to prime and paint them white. The guru at my local paint store, who thus far has never steered me wrong, told me I could paint them if I wanted--he advised that, since they have been "finish" sanded, to lightly sand them with 500 or 600 paper, use an oil-based white primer and them a 100 percent acrylic paint--he said that all the priming and staining could be applied with good foam rollers (not sure if the primer should be, since it's oil). That appeals to me because I'll be doing this mostly by myself. He thought that, if used with care and patience, the foam rollers could produce almost as good a result as spraying.
Another friend of mine, who used to restore furniture, advised against painting. He said it was extremely difficult even for the best professional to get a good white paint finish on unfinished furniture. He advised the same sanding (500 to 600) but strongly suggested I use lacquer or a stain with a polyurethane coat over it, as long as I was happy with the look of the "bare" maple or a stained maple.
Which advice should I follow?
Sand first even though they've been "finish" sanded?
If staining, should I prime before the first coat, then apply the stain, then sand, then apply a coat of polyurethane? I've had one person advise using a sealer between the stain and poly.
How many coats of stain and poly?
Thank you so much for your help!