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Thread: Refinishing stained and Lacquered bathroom moldings & Cabinets

  1. #1

    Refinishing stained and Lacquered bathroom moldings & Cabinets

    I have a question about refinishing my bathroom moldings and cabinets.
    I am in the process of redoing the floor in my master bath. I pulled off the baseboards. They are in desperate need of a freshening up. They are stained and lacquered, 20 years old. My question is if I want to re stain and finish them, do I need to get all of the old lacquer off before wiping new stain over them? I will then spray a finish on them. I have a Graco 3800 turbine sprayer. What finish would be best?

    Thank you,

    Kevin

  2. #2
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    It might be possible to do a refinish over the old if the existing finish is firmly bonded, if all you want to do is put a new coat of finish on them. But if you want to change the color then your options are going to be much fewer, pretty much limited to spraying toners I think, and you could only go darker. All the products you use would need to be compatible with the lacquer finish. If you strip everything off, however, you could use almost anything, have any color the wood allows, and also have a chance to sand/steam out any dents or defects, too.

    Got any photos of what you're starting with?

    John

  3. #3
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    Like John said, traditional pigment stains won't absorb through your current film (lacquer) finish, so you'd need to sand to bare wood before re-staining. You could add a dye to a film finish and spray them together, but if your problem is deep scratches you'll probably still see the scratches unless you either locally repair (re-stain) the scratches or sand to bare wood and start over.

    What kind of wood (pine?) and how dark is the current finish? If it is pine with light scratches and a very light finish, you might be able to simply sand lightly and reapply the topcoat. If it has a darker stain and deeper scratches that go through the stain to bare wood, you may be able to carefully re-stain the scratch areas separately, then sand and topcoat. The result probably won't be perfect but if you are good at matching stains it may be good enough.

    A picture showing the color of the wood and the type(s) of damage would probably be helpful.

    It is relatively easy to see if you can get away with a simple light sand and topcoat, just try it on the most damaged area and see if the result is good enough.

    FWIW, if it was me and the damage was 'all over the place' and it was standard modern builder-grade baseboard, I'd probably replace the molding rather than try to sand it down to bare wood and restain/finish it. I did that once 40 years ago.

    It is quite time consuming to get the topcoat and stain out of every nook and cranny. Useful process for restoring an antique or family heirloom but not so much fun on bathroom molding.
    Mark McFarlane

  4. #4
    I will take some pictures tonight. They are Oak moldings, with Golden oak stain, then covered with Magnalac lacquer. 20 years old. It looks like the lacquer is kind of pealing a little. I think it may be due to the moisture. I may just buy new to save time.

    Kevin

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Dahms View Post
    I will take some pictures tonight. They are Oak moldings, with Golden oak stain, then covered with Magnalac lacquer. 20 years old. It looks like the lacquer is kind of pealing a little. I think it may be due to the moisture. I may just buy new to save time.

    Kevin
    Kevin, Oak is quite a bit more expensive than stain grade pine in my area.

    You might be able to re-stain scratches. Apply stain sparingly, maybe with an artists brush, then wipe it off the lacquered part immediately. Put on a clear coat or wipe on mineral spirits and see where you are. There's not much to loose giving this a try. Worse case is you sand to wood or repurchase the oak.

    However, in places where the topcoat is peeling, there's not much you can do that I know of except sand through to wherever the adhesion problem is, which may or may not cut into the stain.

    A more skilled person then me could possibly scratch sand, tint some topcoat and get a great result without going to bare wood, but you would probably need to go a little darker in overall tone. You're into furniture restoration mode.
    Mark McFarlane

  6. #6
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    If the topcoat is peeling either it was not compatible with the stain underneath or there is a large moisture issue. If it's the latter you'll need to address that for most any finish to last over the long haul. Generally, as long as water from the tub/shower isn't regularly spraying onto the trim and bathroom has a working vent fan there shouldn't be an issue. In any case, if you've got areas that are peeling you will have to remove it.

    John

  7. #7
    it seems I can't upload pictures yet.

  8. #8
    I think I got the pictures now.
    I am thinking about just putting in new base and shoe molding. Less overall work.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  9. #9
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    Kevin, it is definitely a lot less work to replace the molding rather that refinish it, if you can find a profile that is 'close enough' to meet your needs'. It can also be a challenge to remove the current molding without destroying it.

    FWIW, I don't see any big adhesion problems in the two pictures, maybe two small spots that look opaque-ish. You might just try scuff sanding a board and putting on a clear top coat and see if you are happy with the results. Looks like a gloss coat to me, you could try a wipe-on gloss poly.

    You can get a sneak peak at what the poly would look like by scuff sanding and them liberally wiping on mineral spirits. That will tell you if you have any areas that need more sanding, before applying the poly. It is much easier to address any problems before applying the top coat.
    Last edited by mark mcfarlane; 03-14-2019 at 7:16 PM.
    Mark McFarlane

  10. #10
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    That should be easy to strip and refinish, but it will be even easier to replace it. If you broke any of it removing it replacing all of it just became an easier decision because new almost never matches old exactly.

    John

  11. #11
    I was able to remove all but one piece without braking. Unfortunately the one that broke is the most visible. So I decided to replace all base and shoe moldings. I only need 2- 8 foot pieces. Time to brush up on my coping skills I guess.

    So then I have a question, what would be a good top coat over oil base stain?

    Thanks

  12. #12
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    Oil based varnish. Arm-R-Seal is really nice if you like wipe on products, and it's very light colored which might be good for your application.

    John

  13. #13
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    Like John, I also am a fan of General Finishes Arm R Seal. I've gone through 3 gallons in the last 18 months.

    On the flip side, you need to get it from a specialty store (Woodcraft or Rockler) or spend a bit to have it shipped which gets expensive. Some people have reported good results with Minwax's wipe-on poly, or you could thin a thicker poly and wipe it on.
    Mark McFarlane

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