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need help figuring out how to refinish my discolored kitchen cabi

Posted by littlecalifornian (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 21, 12 at 17:11

Hi, I'm new to home repair so I wanted to ask some experts first to make sure I am doing this correctly. I have some very nice, solid wood cabinets in my kitchen that were probably installed in the late 1970's. I don't want to rip them out and put new ones in because I haven't seen any that were this good of quality and solid wood. Plus they are completely fine except for the discoloration. I'm not sure what kind of wood they are.

However, there is significant damage to them. I have attached a pictures of some of it. The really really white circle that's right about in the center of the picture is partially due to the flash but the rest of the picture is accurate. I guess the best way to describe it is a white haze, I don't know if it was due to heat damage (some of the spots were above the toaster and on the side of the oven). I tried lightly sanding it (but I didn't continue because I didn't know if I was going to damage the wood) and it didn't seem like it was doing much, but I don't know if sanding it more deeply would completely remove it.

Has anyone had experience with these kinds of stains/discoloration? Do you know how to remove them or if sanding will even remove the discoloration?

My plan is to sand the cabinets down, then stain them with a darker wood color, maybe a cherry color. What I"m also worried about is that the white spots will remain lighter than the rest of the wood after I apply the stain. Does stain evenly color the wood or do you think I might have weird white blotches on it?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: need help figuring out how to refinish my discolored kitchen

No photos attached, but white haze is typically moisture embedded in the finish. It comes out fairly easily. I use the "water ring removal cloths" but other approaches are baby oil and cigarette ashes, denatured alcohol padded over, mayonnaise sitting overnight, then wiped off, and so on.

Sanding off an old finish is an extremely poor way to do it. It takes a long time, uses a lot of sandpaper and does not completely nor evenly remove the finish (unless you are really taking off a lot of wood like floor refinishing). If the old finish needs to come off, use a chemical stripper.

Post the photos and there might be more suggestions.


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RE: need help figuring out how to refinish my discolored kitchen

You might try wiping a section with a rag wetted---almost dripping---with lacquer thinner.

Use gloves and a respirator and have really good ventilation(using a fan and open windows)---as the odors from lacquer thinner are very strong.

Reason being if the finish is lacquer---and it may well be----water affects the finish by causing a whitish haze. Lacquer is not like varnish or polyurethane, as lacquer thinner will dissolve lacquer even after years of age.

If nothing happens, the finish is probably varnish, necessitating the stripper.


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