Cabinet Refinishing: How To Refinish Your Kitchen Cabinets Like A Pro

kitchen cabinets

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If you have been unhappy with your kitchen cabinets for a while, you may have thought about hiring someone to rip them out and replace them. Maybe that is an expense you aren’t ready for or, perhaps, your cabinets are still strong and sturdy. There is a solution! Kitchen cabinet refinishing can be the perfect thing to spruce up your kitchen and make it feel warm and inviting again.

What Is Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing?

Refinishing your kitchen cabinets is the process of adding a new coat of paint, changing any hardware, and even adding designs. Sounds easy, right? Well, a lot goes into refinishing cabinets so that you don’t ruin anything in the process. It is important to understand that if your cabinets are laminate, you cannot go through this process. Laminate cabinet doors and drawers have to be replaced.

Materials Needed To Refinish Cabinets

You will need specific tools and materials to refinish your wood cabinets successfully—some things you will already have and others you will need to obtain.

Required Tools

The necessary tools needed are going to vary depending on the refinishing you are doing. For a simple project, you will need the following:

  • screwdriver set
  • clamps
  • crowbar
  • cordless drill and drill bits
  • face mask
  • paint scraper
  • paintbrushes
  • safety glasses
  • tape measure
  • shop vacuum
  • 80-grit sandpaper
  • fine-grit sandpaper
  • rubber gloves
  • putty knife
  • sander

If you choose to do something more in-depth and have the instructions, follow their tool list closely.

Required Materials

Your required materials are going to be quite simple. You will need:

  • primer
  • paint
  • new hardware if necessary
  • drop cloths
  • rags
  • odorless mineral spirits
  • ammonia
  • popsicle sticks

It is safe to plan for 2-3 gallons of primer and 3-5 gallons of paint. The number of cabinets you have and the size they are will dictate how much you need. It is better to have too much than too little to not run out for more paint and hope it matches.

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How To Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

Now that you have your tools and materials, it is time to get started! Here is a complete list of steps you should take to complete your basic refinishing project.

Step 1: Protect Yourself and The Rest of The Kitchen

Refinishing kitchen cabinetry is a messy job and can be a bit on the dangerous side. Wood surfaces will kick up dust during paint removal and paint drips. It is a good idea to put down drop cloths before removing any of your cabinet doors and drawers. Please wear clothing that you are okay with getting messy or a plastic covering over your clothes to protect them.

Step 2: Remove Kitchen Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Everything must be removed from your cabinets and stored elsewhere safely. Ideally, it is best to put everything into another room to avoid dust and debris getting all over your things.

  • Step 1: remove all doors and drawers
  • label each so that you remember where they go
  • tape screws to the hinges
  • Step 2: remove the molding along the soffit with your crowbar
  • Step 3: unscrew the cabinet from the soffit
  • Step 4: remove the cabinet from the wall

Step 3: Remove Cabinet Hardware

Removing the hardware on cabinets is easy but can be a bit time-consuming. If you can, recruit an assistant with this part. Using your screwdriver, unscrew all knobs and handles from your cabinet doors and drawer faces. Place these in small labeled bags so that you know which cabinet or drawer they go with. You can put it in a large bag if you change them for new ones and want to donate them.

Step 4: Clean The Surfaces

The next step is to clean the cabinet surfaces thoroughly. You will want to use odorless mineral spirits, but open all the windows and run a fan if you have the regular type. This is a good time to wear a face mask to help block out the odor. Standard mineral spirits have an intense odor, and you should not be in a closed room with the smell.

Gently wipe your cabinets inside and out with a rag dampened in the mineral spirits and ensure all contaminants are removed. Once that is complete, you will wash them all down again, but this time with half ammonia and half water.

Step 5: Strip And Sand Cabinets

The first thing you want to do is to put on your face mask and rubber gloves. If you have not put any drop cloths down, you will need them down around your work area. Next, you will open up your can of paint thinner and coat the doors or drawers. You need to wait 15 minutes before using your paint scraper to remove the gelled paint. Next, you must remove the gel in a stroke that is parallel to the grain. Always start in the center and move outward, pushing the gel off the cabinet or drawer and onto the drop cloth. Use a popsicle stick or putty knife to scrape the gel out of grooves, dips, tight corners, and any other feature that is not completely flat. Once you are done, you must let the cabinets and drawers dry for one hour.

After the hour is up, it’s time to sand. Put your face mask on and grab your sandpaper; it’s time to prep them for the primer. It would be best for you to use a sander; sanding by hand will take forever. However, have some paper on hand for the finer details. Once you have sanded the cabinet, wipe off any remaining sanding dust with a moist towel. The whole purpose of sanding is to provide a smooth surface that the prime and paint can grab onto. It will not grab on a dusty surface.

Step 6: Prime And Paint The Wood

Before putting the primer on, give the cabinet about two hours to dry from the wipe down. Applying primer is simple; you need just one coat applied with a paintbrush. It must dry thoroughly before you begin the next step. Give it 2 hours to dry before moving on to the paint.

Painting the cabinet is just like the primer. First, apply a coat evenly onto the cabinet, ensuring you get all the divets and grooves. Let it dry for another two hours, then apply a second coat. If you are painting the fine detail, you will need to give it another 2 hours to dry before moving to the delicate work.

Step 7: Reattach Hardware Or Install New Hardware

It is better to be safe than sorry; we suggest waiting two hours or let the cabinets dry overnight. Then you reattach the hardware, or install new ones, to the cabinets. Don’t forget to coordinate the hardware by the label on each bag.

Step 8: Reattach The Cabinets

After you are done with all of the hardware, it’s time to reattach the cabinets. Be sure to follow the same layout as they were done before. It would be helpful to take a before photo to help you remember the cabinets’ order. Also, don’t forget to take an after photo to show off your hard work to your loved ones.

Save Yourself Time

Rather than spending a lot of time doing the work yourself, give us a call. We can provide you high-quality cabinetry that will beautify your kitchen without you having to do any work. Our years of experience in Palm Beach are a benefit to you, and we can make your dream kitchen happen. So call our designers today to explore all your options.