S/O: re-staining vs. re-painting cabs

eleenaSeptember 28, 2012

This is a spin-off from the "Why are all the local KDs down on painted cabinets?" thread.

I know it has been discussed many-many times but I am still unclear on the effort involved in re-staining vs. re-painting.

In our previous house, which was built in 1960 and had only one original owner before us, there was a LOT of woodwork, all of which (except for some doors) was pine with clear (I presume) varnish (like in Don & Betty's kitchen in Mad Men TV show).

The wood itself was in good shape as the owners took care of the house but the varnish was old and had yellowed. I was told that in order to renew it, I had to strip the coating off, sand the wood and apply new coating, so it'd be a lot of work and - therefore - expensive.

We never got to it as you had to move but I was dead set against wood cabinets ever since.

In our current house, ALL woodwork was painted - as well as in all the other houses I have seen in our sub-division where the houses range from $200K to $1M+. We don't live in Silicon Valley and I am mentioning the prices just to say that these are rather "higher-end" (though not the highest) houses for the area.

We have had most of the trims/moldings as well as bathroom and closet cabinets re-painted. It was quite easy and looks good (IMHO but other people said that too).

We had a lot of "fighting" with our KD who wanted wood cabs in the kitchen but I was adamant they should be painted. She listed all the reasons as posters on the above mentioned thread who advocated wood. I was insisting on painting b/c I did not want to mess with re-staining down the road when we have to sell the house. Our remodel did not happen then and I am still deciding on the finish.

If I understand correctly, the experts here are saying that it is NOT easy to do a good paint job on cabinets, even if there is no factory applied glaze, and I do not understand why.

Could you elaborate a little more?

Also, other people are saying they re-stained theirs quite easily. What gives? Are the new stains/varnishes different from the old ones? Don't you have to strip them?

Though paint-grade cabs are cheaper, I am not worried about the up-front cost as much as what it'd take to refresh them when selling in (possibly) 15 years. The last thing I want is to have to replace all the cabinets then, so I'd rather invest now.

I'd really appreciate an explanation about re-staining vs. re-painting.

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I can't remember any threads where anyone said they restained their cabinets easily, unless it was Gel stain. Gel stain goes on more like paint, though it's in a polyurethane type base so it's somewhat transparent. But it doesn't penetrate like stain, and most people put a clear topcoat on top to protect it. Unlike stain, it can chip off, more like paint. I've done Gel stain, have painted cabinets, and am currently stripping cabinets. Stripping is by far the most time consuming, but for cabinets that were beginning to look pretty bad, it was the best choice.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 6:47PM
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The problem is that the new paint finishes are more like car paint than house paint, some done in factories are baked on, and have you ever tried to touch up the paint on a car?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:30PM
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If you are doing this work in place, then there is no question that refinishing wood is more time consuming than painting. To refinish properly, doors are all removed and sent out to be stripped. Frames are stripped in place, drawers are removed as well. Then sand, stain sand stain and finish coat which coule be an oil or a polyurethane.

For brush painting, you can get away with sanding the painted finish and then painting, either once or twice.

Painted cabinets aren't always made of cheaper woods: our newly finished kitchen, (today our first day of cooking!) is a green shop paint finish over maple.

Good luck

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:48PM
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Could you tell me why you chose maple over paint-grade?


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 8:50PM
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