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Unfinished cabinets

Which type of stain (gel, oil, water-based) is best to use on the unfinished oak cabinets sold in Home Depots? What finish would be best (satin, glossy, semi-gloss)?

Thank you!

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Posted 2013-08-17T21:21:04+0000  by tmzbrown tmzbrown



Oak typically takes stain well without undo preparation. Normally, only a light sanding is neccessary. Oak is a hard, dense wood which does not need a pre-stain sealer, as do softer woods.


I personally prefer a traditional penetrating oil stain. They penetrate into the grain and help 'set" the grain.  Water based stains tend to lift the grain. Water based stains  are also very fast drying, which often makes it difficult to wipe uniformly.


After having stained the oak and allowing it to dry, you can proceed with the urethane varnish of your choice. The sheen is largely personal taste, however, oak is a somewhat grainy wood and the gloosy varnishes highlight the graininess.


There are both water based and oil based urethane varnishes. Both have pros and cons.  Water based urethanes dry crystal clear. They have little odor and they dry fast. Oil urethanes impart a slight amber tone. their slower drying makes them a little easier to apply.


Both oil and water based urethanes are their own sealers. After the first coat, they are given a light sanding to set the grain. Both then require a couple more coats for optimum protection.


If you want to give an even better, smoother finished surface, try first applying water based MinWax Universal sanding sealer. Sanding sealer does as even better job of setting and filling the heavy oak grain. Once dry and sanded, a couple coats of either oil or water based urethane may be put over it.


Water based varnishes require a good synthetic bristle brush. Oil varnish requires a good natural bristle brush for optimum results.


Urethanes do have a couple idiosyncrasies as to applying the coats. . It is a good idea to read and follow the instructions of the particular type and brand of urethane varnish.


Hope this has helped.



Posted 2013-08-18T06:22:39+0000  by ordjen
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