I want to change the color of my vanity from a golden oak color to something much darker, but I've never attempted something like this before. I've done a lot of googling but I'm still not sure. What does it mean to strip the finish? Is this just a chemical treatment and then you still sand it down before restaining? Would you pull the vanity out of the bathroom to do this work or would you leave it in place? Any other advice or ideas?
This is just one technique that I use.... Tailored instructions to your project.
Disconnect the plumbing. Pull the vanity. Take outside the house. It's going to get a bit messy...
Paint on stripper. I use BIX Varnish and Stain Stripper. I pour from the gallon can into a mason jar and use the brush from there. It will bubble up the finish and takes the stain out. Make sure you wear gloves!!! After it sets, you'll have to scrape the mess off. Seal up the mason jar -- do not pour back into the can or it will contaminate it.
Still wearing gloves... After scraping, mix up some TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) with water and wash the vanity down with it. It comes in a box and will look like laundry soap. This product is strong. It's original use was for cleaning siding and decks. Scrub. This will neutralize the stripper and take out more of the old stain.
If dark wood or you're going to stain dark, rinse with a water vinegar mix. If light wood or you're going to stain light, rinse with a water bleach mix.
Let dry. Then lightly sand. Go over with steel wool. (Will bring out the grain.)
Rub down with a wood conditioner. I use Benite. This will seal the wood and stain will color more evenly. Stain and apply coats of finish. (Appropriate drying times between.) When you get your stain and finish, look at the drying times. Some of each dry in 20 minutes.
Remount vanity and connect plumbing. Check for leaks.
That's a lot cheaper that the $300 I charged for the last custom maple/stainless vanity I built. Besides, you like that one... You just want it a different color, right? Some people would just paint it in place. (cringe!!!) Personally, I think it's a travesty to cover beautiful wood grain with paint.
I was actually starting to lean towards building a new one. I think it could be fun. The only problem is that I have no experience building a vanity/cabinet. This probably wouldn't be a bad time to start learning since it's a very small vanity, only 24" wide. Can you recommend any good website tutorials for the basics of making cabinets?
And it's a lot less work and money to refinish than to build another that you'll need to finish...
If you did go that way, look at yours. You could just reface yours. That means you build the front, doors and drawer fronts // reusing the box. The doors and drawer fronts don't need to be the same style as you have. You might not have the tooling to recreate that. My door bit sets alone are over $150. Then there's drawer pull bits, etc. The face's tools are a "good" table saw, miter saw and pocket screw jig, maybe a router or router table if there is rabbet joint to the box. If you want to built a box, look at what you have and get the measurements of the pieces from that. The tooling might be a table saw, dado or router, etc.
Adds up fast eh?