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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I am new to this forum and also to staining. A complete newbie, actually. lol Anyways I have a slight problem and don't know what to do about it and I am hoping someone here will know how to fix it. I recently bought a house and the kitchen cabinets are horrible. They are two toned, the outline is dark and the inner part is very light. I am trying to stain the lighter part so that it matches the darker part. I bought some Minwax gel stain and sanded down the lighter part of the cabinets and then applied the Minwax gel stain with a sock. I read about this method online and heard great success stories about it. Unfortunately, it has been five days and the gel stain has not dried and is still tacky. So I am thinking that the gel stain won't work? I am now planing on using mineral spirits to take off the gel stain. My question is what to do now? Should I try regular stain? or should I try a poly/stain combo? At my wits end right now and need some advice. Any help would be greatly, greatly appreciate!!! Thanks in advance!
 

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There are a number of things you may be having trouble with. First it's not a good idea to just sand cabinets and start finishing over them. The first step should be to thoroughly clean the cabinets to get off any oils or polish that might be on the surface. Kitchen cabinets get dirtier than you think. Any time someone fries something the oils are airborne and it sticks to the cabinets. A light cleaning doesn't cut it. If the cabinets have a trace of oil on them and you sand them you just smear the oil around and it's still there. Sometimes these substances can have an adverse affect on the new finish and prevent them from drying. In any case it may prevent proper adhesion and peal off later if you were to get the gel stain to dry. If you think the cabinets were clean then I would put a fan blowing on the gel stain and get it to dry. If there is any doubt I would take the gel stain off and clean the cabinets with mineral spirits frequently changing rags. Be sure to open the windows as the fumes will build up in the house and they are explosive. Anything in the house with an open flame should be turned off and don't turn the lights on and off. Inside the light switch it makes a spark so just leave the lights on until the fumes are mostly gone. Temperature and humidity can extend the drying time. If the weather was very humid the gel stain will just take longer to dry. If you do leave the gel stain on until it dries chances are it will get enough dust in it to make if feel rough. When dry you can lightly sand it with 320 or finer grit paper and put a coat of clear over it.

If you wish to go to regular stain it would be necessary to chemically strip the finish off the cabinets and sand them. They would need to be raw wood in order to stain. The gel stain is like clear varnish that has had some paint mixed into it so it will adhere to another finish. Regular stain will not. It's just a little linseed oil and thinner and pigment. If you are happy with the appearance with the gel stain I think it would be the easiest method you could use.

Normally the first thing I do when I recoat cabinets is spend about half a day cleaning them with Krud Cutter Gloss Off. It's available at the box stores and walmart.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks so much for the response! :) Okay, well to begin with I probably did not clean them well enough. I washed them with soap and water and scrubbed them down but from what you said that probably wasn't enough. Then I sanded them and put the gel stain on with a sock....a very light coat. I did not wipe it off. That's what the article said to do and so I did it. Is that a bad idea? I would really like to work with the gel stain if I can since I already have the materials and I would definitely like to stay away from stripping the cabinets. So should I wipe off the gel stain with mineral spirits and then de-grease them (I have some "Goof Off", will that work?) and then sand them and then put the gel stain on again? Is that correct? Will I be able to put multiple coats on then? Because when I tried to put a second coat of the gel stain on the original coat (I guess you could say) "melted" right off and the second coat ended up being really streaky.
Also, if the gel stain doesn't work would the poly/stain mix from Minwax work? Or would I have to strip the cabinets for that just like regular stain?
 

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Aside from maybe not cleaning the cabinets well enough it sounds like you did it right. I believe I would go ahead and clean the gel stain off and clean the cabinets again. If the stuff starts pealing you will end up needing to strip the cabinets. As far as applying the gel stain I probably would have used a soft brush rather than the sock but if you are able to apply it uniformly theres nothing wrong with it. You don't have to wipe a gel stain off. It will adhere like paint. I think it was originally developed to finish textured fiberglass doors to look like wood. The cabinets need to be thoroughly cleaned however I can't advise you on the goof off. I've never used it. From what I can see on the net it may be pretty strong. If it doesn't lift the finish it should be fine so you might start in an inconspicious place in case it eats into the finish.

Once each coat is dry you can put as many coats of the gel stain on as you wish. You might very lightly sand it with 320 paper between coats to cut the fuzz so it ends up smooth when you are done. The poly stain from minwax is very similar to the gel stain. It's just thinner and would work in the same manor.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Okay thanks for all the help! I think I'm going to keep working with the gel stain and hope it works. :)


note: Just tried what you suggested and it worked! The stain set up perfectly! Thank you sooo much! :D
 
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