Refinishing kitchen cabinets

We have cherrywood kitchen cabinets with lots of detail in the woodwork. These are custom cabinets built by a local cabinet maker. The applied finish is lacquer. Over the years the finish has deteriorated due to steam and moisture. We'd like to refinish them with polyurethane. However, I understand that polyurethane will not bond properly to lacquer.
1. Is it possible to restore the appearance of the wood where its stained with moisture marks?
2. Can the lacquer be stripped?
2. As a last resort, can the cabinets be painted?
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1. The moisture marks you refer to may go away with stripping if it hasn't gone to far. not sure.
2. Lacquer can be stripped easily just follow the directions on your choice of strippers and it comes right off.
3. Don't paint it. If you really want to give up after all the work of stripping painting would be easy enough. Seal first.
After you strip and are satisfied with the appearance and are ready to finish. I use Zinnser's Bullseye Sealcoat, which is basically a 2 Lb cut of shellac, for a sanding sealer. You can finish over it with any clear finish and it will stop all of the little nasties (fisheye, lifting, etc.) that a person gets with a less than perfect job of surface prep after stripping. Hey a guy can use all the help he can get.

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Thanks for the reply. We will try it on one door first. We talked to people at two paint stores who told us to forget it; there wasn't much that could be done.
Its a real shame that our cabinet maker chose to use lacquer. When we contracted with him, it didn't occur to me that he would do that. At the same time, my brother also had custom cabinets made, his were polyurethaned and are holding up very well. The craftsmanship and detail on ours' is superior, but the finish just didn't hold up.
Bob

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I have used lacquer on mine for almost everyone, but it comes with a disclaimer. You have to treat it like furniture, because its built like furniture and finished like furniture. There are special lacquers that a friend of mine uses but they are much more expensive. I believe they are called pre-catalized. He is a commercial furniture builder and uses it for the tops of tables that he builds. He says that he has left a glass of icewater on it (in southern Missouri's humidity) overnight and didn't even get a ring on top the finish let alone penetration. But really, I don't think applying any kind of lacquer would be for you. Good luck on your project. P.S. I hope you picked one of the doors with alot of discoloration for your experiment.

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