Planning a kitchen remodel? You already know that most of your budget will be claimed by replacing the cabinetry. But if the existing cabinets in your home are solid wood and in overall good condition, they can be refinished with stain for an updated look at a fraction of the cost. Before rushing in, however, there is much to consider – starting with whether you should do it yourself, or hire a pro.
The DIY approach can be successful if you have experience and confidence in your ability to take on mid-level to major home improvement projects. As we always caution here, don’t let your enthusiasm for cable TV house flipping shows make you think you can do likewise if you’ve done nothing more complex around the house than change lightbulbs.
In addition to expertise, staining a kitchenful of cabinets will demand a good deal of time. This includes such prep work as removing handles and other hardware, removing doors, stripping the existing finish, sanding, etc. You may not be willing or able to dedicate evenings and weekends to the project, which also will impact your kitchen’s function to some degree.
For those who want to learn more about what’s involved in staining cabinets to help you decide which route to take, The Paint Manager offers our helpful DIY resource page, which provides answers to common questions, as well as links to DIY videos and other tips from the experts.
An even more up-close look at the entire cabinet finishing process can be seen courtesy of The Idaho Painter.
Should you decide to leave the work to the professionals, it’s still a good idea to be familiar with the basic products so you can make informed choices. Start with the stain itself. There are three types: oil-based, water-based and gel. Minwax provides a comprehensive guide to staining, which includes a chart of stain products, their characteristics and best uses. Your paint contractor will be able to tell you which type is recommended for your cabinetry, and why.
Here are some other benefits of hiring a pro for wood cabinet staining:
- You don’t have to compromise your safety – Doing the project on your own entails some risks. From the step ladder and tools to wood dust and volatile fumes, the project can be hazardous if this is your first cabinet staining rodeo. Professional contractors have the right tools and expertise, and also know how to properly ventilate the space so that it doesn’t become hazardous for occupants.
- Quality prep work – The casual do-it-yourselfer may not consider the amount of preparation required before even opening the first can of stain. Please re-read the third paragraph of this blog post for a (very) general outline of the labors that doing a thorough job of the necessary prep work involve. A professional paint contractor performs each step, in the correct order, to ensure beautiful results that will last for many years.
- Top-quality results – Professional paint contractors have great experience in applying stain evenly to bring out the wood grain and achieve consistent color on all cabinet surfaces for a custom appearance that will make you proud of your kitchen again.
- Relatively quick job completion – Several factors – such as the size of your kitchen – will affect the amount of time the project will require. However, hiring a pro means the job will be done in a few days, rather than a few weeks – or months – as would be the case with doing it yourself. Your kitchen will be fully functional much sooner, and you and your family won’t have to work around disassembled cabinetry, vinyl sheeting partitioning off work areas or the persistent odor of wood stain stripper for what will seem like an indefinite period.
- It’s still economical – Compared against the cost of new cabinetry, hiring a paint contractor to refinish your cabinets will still save you a significant amount of money. If you’re considering doing it yourself to do the job as inexpensively as possible, keep in mind the real cost of your time, labor, personal risk and overall inconvenience – not to mention the possibility of a poor aesthetic result due to lack of experience