My kitchen cabinets are oak, whitewashed. I want a nice warm wood color stain. Do I have to strip the cabinets first and then apply a new stain? What is the process? What is the best and easiest way? I have a lot of cabinets!!
Our company is currently performing just the task you are contemplating. As for us, yes, we will mechanically remove the old finish as well as the stain. Take that sucker right back to bare wood.
Once that has been completed, we have stained the cabinet faces on sight while bringing the doors and drawers to our paint shop. Here we are staining them and will allow to dry over the weekend. Monday we will spray 2 coats of a waterbourne Semi-gloss Polyurethane varnish. Allow to dry over night and spray a third coat. On site we will brush one coat and then putty all nail holes. Allow that to dry over night and then apply 2 coats for the finish. Sanding lightly between coats is a must.
Oh, we have chemically stripped the doors and drawers at the shop.
You asked "best and easiest way?" Sorry, there is not an "easy" way.