How to Update Kitchen Cabinets by Toning with Water Based Finishes

If you're tired of the look of your existing cabinets, furniture or woodwork you can refresh them without messy stripping and sanding by toning. Toning is layering a transparent mix of stain and topcoat together over an existing finish.

PRODUCTS FEATURED:

PREPARATION:

As always do the standard prep for existing finishes.

See our video on prepping an existing finish here.

Be sure to test the new finish for adhesion in a small area.

If products such as wax, oil soaps or dusting sprays (especially those that contain silicone) have been used, the finish may not adhere, requiring stripping and sanding to remove the existing finish.

When working with water-based products in high temperatures or low humidity, add 10 to 15% General Finishes Extender. That's about 3 or 4 ounces per quart of topcoat to slow the dry time.

TECHNIQUE ONE: TONING WITH WOOD STAIN AND TOPCOAT

The first technique is toning with General Finishes Water Based Wood Stain and General Finishes High Performance Topcoat. You can use any ratio up to 50% stain to topcoat.

Today we are going to brush it on, but our preference is to spray.

See our video on spraying topcoat here.

Brush on a nice even uniform coat. Foam brushes work well because they hold a lot of material and are easy to apply.

Come back with a clean bristle brush and feather it out. This will help pull the material out of the corners.

One coat will give you coverage but it may require two or three applications depending upon how dark you want your door.

After the application has dried for 1 to 2 hours protect the color with 2 to 3 coats of your choice of water-based topcoats, sanding lightly in between with a 220-grit sanding pad.

TECHNIQUE TWO: TONING WITH DYE STAIN AND TOPCOAT

The second technique is toning with a mix General Finishes Water Based Dye Stain and General Finishes High Performance Topcoat.

Brush on a nice even uniform coat. The more coats you put on, the more color you're going to develop. The dyes are transparent, like an ink so you can see right through them.

What's nice about this is if you choose to add more color, it just requires more applications of the finish.

Come back in with a bristle brush and feather out the corners.

General Finishes recommends two coats of dye stain mix.

After the application has dried for 2 to 4 hours protect the color with 2 to 3 coats of your choice of water-based topcoats, sanding lightly between coats with a 220-grit sanding pad.