D.I.Y. Updated Kitchen Cabinets- Part 1 The FAIL


Our kitchen when we bought the house...
       We have had our kitchen cabinets refinished for a year now so I think I am finally ready to talk about them again... 

       Our kitchen cabinets took 4 years to complete from start to finish; the project is a preschooler. We had a lot of ups and downs...ok more downs...when it came to refinishing our cabinets. I am by no means an expert, but I can simply give you a few tips to keep you from wasting your time, beating your head against a wall, and resenting your spouse. :)

       When we started our journey, we had just moved into our new house that had the 90's honey oak cabinets and wood floors {yes they matched}. Having stained a few pieces of furniture in my day, I suggested we stain the cabinets darker to bring them into this decade and at least differentiate them from the floors. I began sanding the cabinets with a circular sander since there was so much surface area to cover.

DON'T: Don't use a circular sander to sand when staining...you must sand WITH the grain of the wood or you will see it! Oops...

       I had bought a gel stain in dark walnut; I love gel stains because of their ability to coat evenly. However, when I began applying I realized that it was not coating evenly at all. The problem: we had factory-grade, spec home cabinets. Instead of being coated with a polyurethane clear coat, they were coated with a lacquer. Do you know how hard it is to get lacquer off?! They were also made with cheap wood on the sides, another type for the wall cabinets, and another for the doors.

TIP: Stain soaks into different types/qualities of wood differently. Gel stain can be applied over a clear coat without sanding, and although it will not become as dark as it would if it was applied directly to the wood, it will at least coat more evenly.

LESSON LEARNED: Staining an entire kitchen is much HARDER than a single piece of furniture...unless you are super confident, you may just want to hire a professional.

Summer 2009...I think our cabinets stayed like this for at least a year

       To fix our mistakes and re-stain our small-ish kitchen would cost us $2,000 by a professional. The cost wasn't too bad for an updated kitchen, but it was more than this DIY-er could afford at the moment. We went without cabinet doors for a year while we tried to fix each one ourselves....then out of shear frustration we gave up and just put them back on as is. I took about 6 months to lick my creative wounds and mentally scheme up another plan.

Summer 2011...we gave up

Winter 2012...about to start part 2 redo

Stamp this as a D.I.Y. FAIL! Part 2 is much happier ending with prettier pictures...