refinish kitchen cabinets

When seeking to bring a new look into one of the most important rooms in the home, homeowners may decide to work with what they have and refinish kitchen cabinets. It is an affordable alternative to tearing out and replacing the existing cabinetry. Homeowners can achieve a stylish design by undertaking a do-it-yourself refinishing project.

Choose a style

Updating a kitchen is a sure way to add value to any property. Many people think that a renovation has to break the bank, but that simply is not true. Even the most dated wooden cabinets can be refurbished and transformed into a more sleek and modern style. By opting to refinish kitchen cabinets, homeowners can save a lot of money.

Homeowners should consider the overall design that they would like to achieve in the kitchen, then choose the new color for the cabinetry. Cabinets can be stripped and stained, or painted a solid color. New hardware and knobs are an affordable and easy way to enhance the cabinets and drawers.  

Gather materials and supplies

Before taking down doors or entire units, it would be wise to ensure that all of the necessary tools and equipment are on hand for the project. This will prevent frequent trips to the store once the project has begun, as well as reduce stress and frustration while working on the kitchen cabinets. A drill, screwdrivers, sander, sawhorses, and various other items will be needed.

Getting started

Before beginning to refinish kitchen cabinets, all of the hardware must be carefully removed. A drill or a screwdriver will be needed to carefully take out all screws and remove the cabinet doors from their hinges. Drawers should also be removed.  All of the hardware should be placed into a small container or plastic bag so that the pieces are not lost during the refinishing process. The bag can be sealed and labeled, making it easy to find exactly which hinges and screws belong to which section of the cabinetry.

Next, it is important to clean up the cabinets so that the surface is easier to work with. Scrub away any stains and allow the surface to air dry. Fill in any holes with putty. Not only should the exterior doors be cleaned, but all hardware and interior areas should be wiped down well with a damp cloth, including shelves and drawers.

Stripping paint or varnish

If the cabinetry is going to be stripped, the existing paint or varnish must be completely removed. This should be done in a well-ventilated area, typically in a garage work space, or outside in the yard. Safety goggles and gloves should be worn for personal protection.

When using the stripper in order to refinish kitchen cabinets, it is important to work slowly to cover each section. Painters tape can be used around the edges attached to the wall so that the stripper does not come into contact with the wall paint. The stripper can be painted on, then left to blister.

Once the paint or varnish has begun to blister, it is ready to be scraped off with a putty knife. It may take several applications before all of the original varnish or paint is thoroughly removed. Mineral spirits should be used to wipe down the cabinetry once the paint has been stripped off entirely.

Preparing the surface for painting or staining

To refinishing cabinets, homeowners may opt to either paint or stain the surface. For larger cabinet units, it will be easier to sand the surface with an electric sander. It is not always necessary to purchase this equipment, as many home improvement stores and local hardware stores offer a daily rental. Smaller surfaces can be sanded down by hand.

Paying close attention during the sanding process will ensure that the grade of sandpaper being used is not too strong or too fine. It is important not to be rough, because then the wood grain can be lost. After the sanding process is complete, excess dust should be blown off and the cabinets can be wiped down with a damp cloth.

Staining or painting the cabinets

The next part of the process to refinish kitchen cabinets is to stain or paint the surfaces. It may be helpful to do a test run with the chosen stain or paint color on one section of the cabinetry in order to get a better idea of what the final look will be like. This could even be done in advance on a piece of scrap wood, prior to purchasing a large amount of product.

Choose high quality paint brushes in order to get the liquid smoothly and carefully applied to the surface. When using a stain, read the container for the directions. With paint, it would be best to go with a smooth up and down stroke. Maintain a consistent amount of product on the brush while going over each section.

After the first coat of paint or stain has been applied, allow it to dry fully. If subsequent coats are needed, they should be added only after each coat has dried completely. It may take several hours to complete the painting step to refinish kitchen cabinets.

Reassemble all cabinetry

Once all of the cabinets, doors, and drawers have been painted or stained and have dried fully, the pieces are ready to be reassembled. Find the labeled bags or containers with the hardware and use a drill to hang the cabinets back up. New handles and knobs are very affordable and will bring out the new paint or stain and tie the whole look together. Attach the new knobs with a screwdriver to finish off the look.

Admire a job well done

Opting to refinish kitchen cabinets is a great way for homeowners to save money during a renovation. It is also an environmentally-friendly option, since existing materials are being reused. The cabinets are one of the most important visual features in a kitchen, as well as a functional one. With the right tools, products, skills, and patience, homeowners can refinish kitchen cabinets in order to create a fresh new look.   

Check out this video on refinishing wood kitchen cabinets