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Old 04-13-2016, 12:18 PM   #1
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Default Cabinet Refinishing Process

When it comes to altering the stained color of cabinets, I've always been a traditionalist and sanded down everything to bare wood, restained, and then top coated.

Recently, when it comes to relatively minor reconditioning jobs (more or less the same color - just dealing with some water damage and fresh top coating), I've sanded the bad areas, retained, applied a light coat of stain using my HVLP, and then topcoat using same.

I have a bid coming up where the customer has oak cabinets but wants to change the color to a somewhat darker one. I am thinking that doing a light to moderate sanding, then applying the new stain with successive light coats via the HVLP, and then applying three top coats of polyacrylic, may be a satisfactory way to do the job versus the much more labor intensive route involving a complete resanding to bare wood. I know it isn't the time honored way of going at this type of job but with the availability of HVLP technology for applying the stain and clear coats, it seems a viable way to do it. And as long as sufficient topcoats are applied to protect the coats of stain, the durability should be about the same.

What, if any, would be the cons of proceeding this way?
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Old 04-13-2016, 12:57 PM   #2
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I personally get nervous about building up regular stain on top of something (besides a gel stain). I am think of misting on a few coats of old masters penetrating or wiping oil stain, for example. But, this is just hypothetical on my part. I would rather make sure the old cabinets are uniform in color by touchup up old stain as needed and then make a toner using my finish of choice and something like the transtint dyes.

I have not done this on a job though, this is just my opinion and shop experiment on scrap doors from a long time ago. So, basically, my opinion on this is worth what you are paying me. At best.
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Old 04-13-2016, 01:28 PM   #3
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I would be concerned with some of the old stain showing through. I would go for a full strip.
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Old 04-13-2016, 02:24 PM   #4
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I would be concerned with some of the old stain showing through. I would go for a full strip.
You mean being visible in places instead of completely obscured by the new stain color? I'm thinking that for this process to work you would have to go from a lighter to a darker color and even then, with not too much of a color difference. For instance, from pickled white to mahogany? Nope.

Another possible route would be to just use a tinted top coat to get to the preferred color level then going to a clear coat for any further protection (if any) that might be desired.
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Old 04-13-2016, 09:37 PM   #5
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You can do it , I recommend a wipe down before sanding with a wax and grease remover, automotive type , light sand or scuff , fog coat using a quick dry lacquer stain in the desired color. It dries so fast you will be in complete control. Fog to desired look, top coat using the finish of your choice including Poly acrylic.
The automotive cleaner will prevent fisheye and other problems.
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Old 04-14-2016, 10:11 PM   #6
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What about light sand and then spray a few toner coats to build it up and then clear over it
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Old 04-15-2016, 12:41 AM   #7
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Looking into the Target Waterbased Conversion Varnish. Have it tinted, spray on coats, then fnish with a final clear. Would give a more durable finish and one more resistant to water damage.
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Old 04-16-2016, 10:08 PM   #8
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Our system is clean and degrease I like using 3m pads they can clean and dull at the same time. We tone with transtint dye in a 50% shellac solution with an acrylic lacquer clear. Someone recommended touching up the nicks in the stain first, and then toning it. Sound advice.

I am unfamiliar with that system should be fine just test it out.
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Old 05-24-2016, 04:41 PM   #9
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Just an update. Am trying out the Emtech (Target) Pre Catalyzed Waterborne Conversion Varnish (comes in two gallon cans so they can get all that on the label). Somewhat spendy and only comes in gallons so pouring off quarts and having them tinted as needed.

I must say this stuff is pretty amazing. Sprays beautifully out of my HVLP and, if needed, touchups for extra coloring can be done with a brush without it hardly showing. In fact, at one point, I wasn't happy with a coat, wiped it down with a rags and thought I'd have to do some sanding to eliminate lines and such. Nope. After it had dried you couldn't even tell I'd wiped it down.

Now my only real concern is if it will be durable for use in bathroom and kitchen cabinets where water can be an issue. I am being told it should be. Anyone know otherwise?
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Old 06-06-2016, 05:41 PM   #10
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In the same boat RH. Cabinets in Mahogany - wants to go espresso SOOO = I thought to Machine sand then use a synthetic sanding sponge instead of steel wool (steel wool could rust and bleed if any left of surface BY mistake) to take out the TOP lustre but not completely strip. Then Gel coat by hand and wipe after. LET dry to spec Then another coat if needed to bring to colour desired Finally hard coat (poly.) for protection *maybe 2 coats of poly (depends on quality ). IN MY OPINION I'll be visiting a Cabinet Finishing company tomorrow and come online to share .... Cabinets will be done late June BUT if clients could wait ITS better to do exteriors and hold interiors for Winter !!
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:18 PM   #11
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I myself use SamaN Clear coat. Can come in clear or Pre-Tinted. Here is a couple picks of some stairs i redid to match the new dark wood flooring. Was very easy to use. Light sand and put it on with a brush. Less than 30 min you would never scratch it off. Clean with soap and water.
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Old 06-30-2016, 04:57 PM   #12
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Note - Obviously, the following is the only way to go about this type of project. With regards to process, equipment, or materials, it is just a way that I have worked out to give good looking results as well as protection for the surfaces while being able to avoid chemical strippers, using quality water based products, and having control over darkening or lightening the colors needed for matching. Those were what I was after and what I seemed to have worked out.

Also, sorry about the length of this post. I wanted to share the entire process I've worked out so continue reading only if you want to learn about using water based products for refinishing cabinets, and, only if you are interested in moving into a market that isn't crowded and where you can make some pretty good money.
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Have been doing a ton of trial and error stuff and experimentation since I started this thread back in April and feel I have finally gotten a process down that is working very well.

What is needed to do the refinishing of moderate to heavily damaged cabinet doors are;
a. a way to reliably and consistently deliver stain and top coat material
b. a high quality stain - water based is a plus
c. a high quality top coating product - water based is a big plus
d. someone at your supplier who is good at matching stains

For application, I am only using my four stage Fuji HVLP with a 1mm spray tip. A .7mm tip would also work but I use the 1mm with no issues. I also have a gun that is dedicated for stain and clear coats - no primers or paints.

Step one, clean surfaces with degreasing product such as Krud Kutter. Allow to dry.

Step two, wipe down surfaces with thinner.

Step three, sand as needed. A key point here is not to overly sand. You don't necessarily want to strip it down to bare wood except where damage or a loosening of the existing topcoat has occurred.

Step four, apply a stain which is somewhat lighter than you want for the finished product. The object here is to lay down a similar, but lighter color that you are trying to replicate. I have been using the Sansin line of water based stains. They just seem to take better than anything else I have tried.

Step five, after stain has dried, sand lightly as needed, wipe down surface with a slightly dampened (water) micro fiber tack cloth (not a regular tack), and then using the HVLP apply a light mist coat of a water based topcoat (I use the Sansin Purity Interior Clear Satin) that has been tinted to match the desired cabinet color. The object here it to blend everything and hide damaged areas without making it opaque. If it turns out a bit too dark due to a heavier than desired layering, it is fairly easy to sand it out a lighter shade since the color is in the top coat, not in the wood. This is probably the key to this process since this tinted top coat gives you considerable control in achieving the desired effect.

Step six, sand as needed, clean, and then apply successive protective clear top coats. For this I could have used the Sansin line but chose instead to use Emtech's Pre-Catalized Waterborne Conversion Varnish since it durable and extremely easy to work with; including brushing out smoothly, and being highly resistant to potential water damage - a big plus when dealing with kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

Below is a before and after shot of a door I just completed using the above process (it actually looks better in person). I intentionally chose this door because it was one of two directly below the sink and as such, in the worst shape than any of the other doors or drawers in the kitchen. If you look carefully, you will note that the darkened areas in the finished shot correspond to the badly damaged areas in the before image. Because of a certain amount of discoloration, combined with heavier sanding, those areas took the stain a little differently than other areas did. Even so, the end result looks like natural staining of the wood rather than areas that were damaged.

Before starting I had cautioned the HO that we might need to look at getting two replacement doors made for those located directly under the sink. The HO has seen the end result of this particular door and there are no plans for having new doors made.

We have done about seven of these jobs now since the original post back in April. We also have eight more in the pipeline. I am finding that almost nobody else around our area really wants to do these jobs because they can be tedious and fussy at times. However, because of that I have been able to raise my rates for this type of work 40% over my regular painting rates. Also, we are now getting referrals from other painting outfits in town who have seen our work and who don't have the time or desire to take these jobs on. Something to think about.

(Hope at least a few of you found this interesting - and thanks for reading all the way through.)
Attached Thumbnails
Cabinet Refinishing Process-2016-06-27-11.20.04-copy.jpg  

Cabinet Refinishing Process-2016-06-30-11.00.54.jpg  

Cabinet Refinishing Process-img_1128.jpg  

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Old 07-01-2016, 06:55 PM   #13
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Getting ready to do another set of cabinets, these are made of hickory. Once again lots of water damage and break down of the previous clear coat. Cleaned, sanded, no staining this time, just clear coating. Applied three flood coats of the Emtech and the sample door looked great - IMO.

Took it over to show it to the HOs; she was thrilled but he said he wants them "smoother" . Now a baby's butt is likely rougher than that door is. I think he was noticing a few areas where some grain texture was visible although it certainly can't be felt. I told him I will apply two more coats (for a total of five) and that seemed to make him happy.
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Old 07-02-2016, 11:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RH View Post
Getting ready to do another set of cabinets, these are made of hickory. Once again lots of water damage and break down of the previous clear coat. Cleaned, sanded, no staining this time, just clear coating. Applied three flood coats of the Emtech and the sample door looked great - IMO.

Took it over to show it to the HOs; she was thrilled but he said he wants them "smoother" . Now a baby's butt is likely rougher than that door is. I think he was noticing a few areas where some grain texture was visible although it certainly can't be felt. I told him I will apply two more coats (for a total of five) and that seemed to make him happy.
Looks good!

Just remember the home owners are always the best experts. Especially when you run into the ones that have been builders, generals, painters, and all the above in their lifetime. It's obviously clear that 5 coats is the correct way to go, it should already be the way you normally do things, says the wise home owners to the painter.

Bad joking aside, charge him for the extra coats and time. Collect your money and run. Signatures galore before and after your start...seems like "one of them" again.
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Old 07-02-2016, 12:26 PM   #15
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Thanks WC. Yeah, I agree. HO's that want to start interfering with the process are one on my pet peeves. But it's a T&M job well above my regular rates so it's his dime. IMO, two extra coats won't hurt anything but neither will it help much. It's been my experience that three is usually the magic number in these things.
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Old 07-02-2016, 01:40 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RH View Post
Getting ready to do another set of cabinets, these are made of hickory. Once again lots of water damage and break down of the previous clear coat. Cleaned, sanded, no staining this time, just clear coating. Applied three flood coats of the Emtech and the sample door looked great - IMO.

Took it over to show it to the HOs; she was thrilled but he said he wants them "smoother" . Now a baby's butt is likely rougher than that door is. I think he was noticing a few areas where some grain texture was visible although it certainly can't be felt. I told him I will apply two more coats (for a total of five) and that seemed to make him happy.
Finishing Hickory is much like oak, you have to use a grain filler to get it smooth.
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Old 07-02-2016, 02:44 PM   #17
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Finishing Hickory is much like oak, you have to use a grain filler to get it smooth.
The amount of grain even visible is so minor as to be a none issue IMO. If he still has concerns after the next round of top coating, we will just have to have a frank discussion about the facts of life concerning the nature of real wood.
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Old 10-14-2016, 11:21 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by AlphaWolf View Post
I myself use SamaN Clear coat. Can come in clear or Pre-Tinted. Here is a couple picks of some stairs i redid to match the new dark wood flooring. Was very easy to use. Light sand and put it on with a brush. Less than 30 min you would never scratch it off. Clean with soap and water.
man that looks nice, how long did that take start to finish?
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Old 11-14-2016, 03:55 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RH View Post
Note - Obviously, the following is the only way to go about this type of project. With regards to process, equipment, or materials, it is just a way that I have worked out to give good looking results as well as protection for the surfaces while being able to avoid chemical strippers, using quality water based products, and having control over darkening or lightening the colors needed for matching. Those were what I was after and what I seemed to have worked out.

Also, sorry about the length of this post. I wanted to share the entire process I've worked out so continue reading only if you want to learn about using water based products for refinishing cabinets, and, only if you are interested in moving into a market that isn't crowded and where you can make some pretty good money.
RH


Have been doing a ton of trial and error stuff and experimentation since I started this thread back in April and feel I have finally gotten a process down that is working very well.

What is needed to do the refinishing of moderate to heavily damaged cabinet doors are;
a. a way to reliably and consistently deliver stain and top coat material
b. a high quality stain - water based is a plus
c. a high quality top coating product - water based is a big plus
d. someone at your supplier who is good at matching stains

For application, I am only using my four stage Fuji HVLP with a 1mm spray tip. A .7mm tip would also work but I use the 1mm with no issues. I also have a gun that is dedicated for stain and clear coats - no primers or paints.

Step one, clean surfaces with degreasing product such as Krud Kutter. Allow to dry.

Step two, wipe down surfaces with thinner. If you are using water based coating why the thinner? Do you mean alcohol based thinner?

Step three, sand as needed. A key point here is not to overly sand. You don't necessarily want to strip it down to bare wood except where damage or a loosening of the existing topcoat has occurred. So the old clear coat is not sanded off?

Step four, apply a stain which is somewhat lighter than you want You are applying a WB stain on top of the old poly coating or whatever coating? How does it stick? the finished product. The object here is to lay down a similar, but lighter color that you are trying to replicate. I have been using the Sansin line of water based stains. They just seem to take better than anything else I have tried.

Step five, after stain has dried, sand lightly as needed, wipe down surface with a slightly dampened (water) micro fiber tack cloth (not a regular tack), and then using the HVLP apply a light mist coat of a water based topcoat (I use the Sansin Purity Interior Clear Satin) that has been tinted to match the desired cabinet color.This is called shading? Why not tint the WB conversion varnish instead of the clear poly? The object here it to blend everything and hide damaged areas without making it opaque. If it turns out a bit too dark due to a heavier than desired layering, it is fairly easy to sand it out a lighter shade since the color is in the top coat, not in the wood. This is probably the key to this process since this tinted top coat gives you considerable control in achieving the desired effect.

Step six, sand as needed, clean, and then apply successive protective clear top coats. For this I could have used the Sansin line but chose instead to use Emtech's Pre-Catalized Waterborne Conversion Varnish since it durable and extremely easy to work with;So you're applying a WB conversion varnish on top of a top of a tinted WB poly? Why not just use the same product in a clear? including brushing out smoothly, and being highly resistant to potential water damage - a big plus when dealing with kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

Below is a before and after shot of a door I just completed using the above process (it actually looks better in person). I intentionally chose this door because it was one of two directly below the sink and as such, in the worst shape than any of the other doors or drawers in the kitchen. If you look carefully, you will note that the darkened areas in the finished shot correspond to the badly damaged areas in the before image. Because of a certain amount of discoloration, combined with heavier sanding, those areas took the stain a little differently than other areas did. Even so, the end result looks like natural staining of the wood rather than areas that were damaged.

Before starting I had cautioned the HO that we might need to look at getting two replacement doors made for those located directly under the sink. The HO has seen the end result of this particular door and there are no plans for having new doors made.

We have done about seven of these jobs now since the original post back in April. We also have eight more in the pipeline. I am finding that almost nobody else around our area really wants to do these jobs because they can be tedious and fussy at times. However, because of that I have been able to raise my rates for this type of work 40% over my regular painting rates. Also, we are now getting referrals from other painting outfits in town who have seen our work and who don't have the time or desire to take these jobs on. Something to think about.

(Hope at least a few of you found this interesting - and thanks for reading all the way through.)
questions are above in the original message.

The bigger question is, could you just shade with the tinted WB conversion varnish and then clear coat with the same WB conversion varnish?
I've always turned down these types of jobs because of a lack of knowledge or experience. I've never done new construction staining and have no experience with clear coats although it looks easy to do. I always turn those jobs down. Now that the economy is tighter,I might have to learn.

Chris,the Idaho painter did a video on shading. He had a problem with fish eye when shading an old poly,lacquered or varnished surface.(I forget which one it was)

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Old 12-05-2016, 05:38 PM   #20
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Acetone based spray stain works well for those worried about adhesion.
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