Wanted to clean and protect the cabinets and railings in our house. They feel very dry to touch and ones in the bathroom look dirty. But first I want to understand what kind of wood was used for these. I tried to read up on kinds of woods on these blogs and it helps a bit but not enough.

http://www.bhg.com/kitchen/cabinets/styles/kitchen-cabinet-material-types/ http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/common-us-hardwoods/

Hoping to do some sanding, wood conditioner, some staining, and polyurethane. Still debating if I should use stain on it as it is making it too dark. Someone was suggesting if it is a nice kind of wood then I should go this way. Otherwise, I could use RUST-OLEUM Cabinet Transformations Kit. That's the story. Any direction would be helpful. I'm hoping to keep it light in color as cabinets cover a large area and will make the kitchen look dark.

Cabinet 1 of 2 Cabinet 2 of 2 Railing 1 of 2 Railing 2 of 2

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    Appears to be red oak. I would expect the rails and stiles on the doors and cabinets to be solid wood. Panels might be veneered, as keshlam mentions. – scanny Feb 5 '17 at 0:47
  • I was guessing oak, from both color and grain. Looks very much like the trim and cabinetry in my own place, actually. Which may bias me against changing it without a clear reason, specific plan, and ideally "Photoshop mock-up" to sanity-check the new look before you start changing it. Note that – keshlam Feb 5 '17 at 4:00
  • ... note that the current coloration is absolutely classic; traditional finishes did tend to add yellow-orange to the wood even without staining. (In fact, I've used several layers of shellac as a tinted wash to get that color when the top coat was going to be water-based poly.) – keshlam Feb 5 '17 at 5:40
  • Possible duplicate of Caring for a sealed finish – keshlam Feb 5 '17 at 15:16
  • Hello, welcome to Woodworking.SE! Unfortunately, wood identification is off-topic for this site, but please feel free to edit to narrow the scope of this question to cover only the refinishing or care element and remove the identification part. – rob Feb 5 '17 at 21:52

Dry to touch is not a problem. Likely a bit of wax is all you need, if that. Wood for cabinets is probably plywood with hardwood face; be very careful if you insist on sanding. Looks fine as is; what do you want to accomplish by refinishing?

  • Thanks! It's just that it feels rough to touch and looks dirty (appears better in pictures). The cabinets above the stove have grease on them and one of them is showing minor cracks. Ones in the bathroom do need cleaning and hence was thinking of sanding. Now feels like it is overkill. How can I clean them? Nothing is looking too bad but I did want to apply something protective which makes it look better and feels nice to touch (especially the railing). – strider Feb 5 '17 at 6:59
  • OK on here someone is suggesting using polyurethane if it is going to be touched a lot - which makes it sound like polyurethane is a better choice for railing.. amazon.com/forum/-/TxBMA5D0ZWP6ZB/-/… – strider Feb 5 '17 at 7:20
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    See woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/5448/caring for good advice about cleaning and maintaining wood surfaces. – keshlam Feb 5 '17 at 15:18
  • Thanks, @keshlam. So mineral spirits to clean and some wax are all I need it seems. That's what I will try. – strider Feb 6 '17 at 2:36
  • I got mineral spirits and Johnson's wax. Now I've learned that using mineral spirits will strip off any finishing on the wood. On high traffic areas, I don't think there is anything on that wood as it feels rough to touch on the rails. On the cabinets, maybe there is something here and there. And if I use mineral spirits to clean it, then I need to sand it smooth or it will be absorbed by the wood, some say on here goo.gl/8L3ywW. Do I need to apply something before I use the wax so I don't have to sand? Sorry for the dumb questions - I just don't want to make it worse. – strider Feb 7 '17 at 15:11

So, what kind of wood is it?

It looks a lot like Red Oak.

Still debating if I should use stain on it as it is making it too dark.

I do not recommend staining the wood unless all finish is removed. Stains will only penetrate where the bare wood is exposed and unless the finish is fully removed the stain is likely to have a very uneven in appearance. In addition the natural color of the wood looks great. Unless you have some sort of decorating strategy that requires a major change, I would suggest keeping the color as shown. Also stain is likely to diminish the expression of the wood grain. Part of the beauty of oak is that the expression of the grain is so pronounced.

It is hard to tell from the photos, but it appears that the finish looks to be in very good shape. Try cleaning the wood with soap and water and applying furniture polish before taking bolder steps. If there are a few problem areas you can get advise on how to fix them here on this site.

I could use RUST-OLEUM Cabinet Transformations Kit.

In my personal opinion as a wood enthusiast, that would be the worst choice. Those kits are basically a solid paint with a glazed top coat to "fake" the appearance of wood. You are talking about a lot of work to get a much poorer, less attractive and less marketable end result.

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