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Fixing worn stained oak

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  • Fixing worn stained oak

    I recently replaced the handles on my kitchen cabinets and I cleaned the doors with TSP before putting the new handles in.

    As I did that I discovered that in some places what looked like just dirt was actually dirt over places where the clear-coat and even the stain has worn down to bare wood:

    Click image for larger version

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    Though now that I look at the photo I wonder if there was any stain there in the first place or the colour came from the clear coat. Is that pretty common? I know I tried to find a stain to match the colour of the cabinets for some chairs I'm refinishing and I couldn't find any plain stain at the big stores that came anywhere close to matching this yellowish colour. So I bought a urethane with stain which I haven't tried yet.

    The wood looks and feels like oak to me.

    Is this fixable without stripping down the existing coats of whatever is on there? There's no way in hell I'm stripping that much. But I'd like this kitchen to look reasonably good for at least another 5-10 years.

    Thanks in advance.
    Andrew Smith
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  • #2

    Re: Fixing worn stained oak

    Different type hardware that covers the blemish??
    Egon
    from
    The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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    • #3

      Re: Fixing worn stained oak

      Definitely looks like oak to me as well.

      You might be able to do a finish patch (apply finish to the specific area) to fix it.

      It won't be perfect (unless you're a finishing guru) but it will be a little hidden by the hardware .

      A bit of sanding and then spray finish (hard to tell from your photo but cabinets of that style typically semi gloss or higher) and kind of feather out the finish .

      I recall a video doing it for replacing some flooring and will see if I can find the link and post (when I get to a computer).

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      • #4

        Re: Fixing worn stained oak

        Originally posted by AndrewSmith View Post

        Though now that I look at the photo I wonder if there was any stain there in the first place or the colour came from the clear coat. Is that pretty common?
        Andrew, there is no stain on that door. It was finished with a dye mixed with the finish, which is commonly referred to as a shading lacquer. It's a common practice, especially if the kitchen maker wants to keep cost down.
        If the finish came off with TSP then it is likely a low quality NitroCellulose lacquer or a waterbased finish. You can check by dabbing a concealed area with some lacquer thinners and if it dissolves almost instantly it's NC.
        How you fix it depends very much on how you want it to look. Best way is to mix some shading lacquer to desired tone and spray on. If it's NC, then it will melt right in and give a perfect repair, but if you don't have the equipment then anything you do will be noticeable.
        You said you bought some tinted poly. What you could do is apply some to an oak sample and see how the colour differs from your door. If it's too dark then dilute the poly with mineral spirits until you get it close enough that you can live with it. Apply some to the door, after cleaning and scuffing, and see what it looks like. You my have to do the whole stile just to even it out, but it will be a hell of a lot less work than stripping it,.
        FWIW some finish/paint suppliers will put finish in an aerosol can. Goudey is the only outlet I know of that may still sell NC lacquer. You could call and see if they can do that for you. It won't be a free service.
        A word of advice on cleaning finished items in the future, use mineral spirits rather than TSP. MS won't attack the finish, it will just get rid of most of the grime and grease. TSP is basically a mild, alkali based stripper, as you found out!
        Good luck
        Paul

        Wally in Calgary likes this.

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        • #5

          Re: Fixing worn stained oak

          Tsp will remove finishes? That is something I was not aware of.

          I only knew it as a decreased - never even crossed my mind it would strip the finishes.

          Learner something today .

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          • #6

            Re: Fixing worn stained oak

            These look like areas that fingernails have scraped when grabbing the handles. I cannot second-guess Paul, but I would try some oil-based poly (Minwax, Varathane, regular or wipe-on) over the area before doing a lot of extra work. My experience is that water-based poly will not give the yellow effect that oil-based will. I've used this approach on natural finished stairs with good results. Getting the matching gloss (gloss, semi-gloss, satin) effect my be more of a challenge.

            ...Wayne

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            • #7

              Re: Fixing worn stained oak

              Originally posted by LaPedrera View Post
              Tsp will remove finishes? That is something I was not aware of.
              Just to clarify, TSP will only act as a mild stripper if the NC finish is compromised in some way and it can work its way down to the substrate finish interface. As Wayne pointed out, fingernail damage would weaken the outer surface and if there's only a thin coat or two, the TSP will loosen that bond giving the effect shown.
              TSP will also soften low end or partly cured waterbased finishes, but it has to be in contact for a fair amount of time.
              I wouldn't rush out and substitute it for a good chemical stripper as it will have virtually no effect on almost all modern day finishes.
              Paul
              Last edited by Paul O in Paris; 01-30-2019, 08:02 PM.

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              • #8

                Re: Fixing worn stained oak

                Originally posted by Paul O in Paris View Post

                Just to clarify, TSP will only act as a mild stripper if the NC finish is compromised in some way and it can work its way down to the substrate finish interface. As Wayne pointed out, fingernail damage would weaken the outer surface and if there's only a thin coat or two, the TSP will loosen that bond giving the effect shown.
                TSP will also soften low end or partly cured waterbased finishes, but it has to be in contact for a fair amount of time.
                I wouldn't rush out and substitute it for a good chemical stripper as it will have virtually no effect on almost all modern day finishes.
                Paul
                Excuse my ignorance - what is an NC finish?

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                • #9

                  Re: Fixing worn stained oak

                  Originally posted by LaPedrera View Post

                  Excuse my ignorance - what is an NC finish?
                  Nitrocellulose lacquers. FYI

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