Basic Steps for Refacing Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Are those kitchen cabinets looking like they are due for a face-lift? If so, consider refacing them yourself. It’s not that difficult, and you could save a lot of money by doing it on your own rather than hiring a professional. Here’s a basic step by step guide on how to reface your kitchen cabinets, with a few ideas for the final look thrown in.

To start, simply remove the kitchen cabinet doors from the cabinet frames. Be sure to save all the hardware, including the handles, unless you plan to replace it all. Tuck everything into a small baggie to avoid loosing anything and set aside.

Using wood putty fill in any holes or gouges in the doors and framing. This may sound obvious, but don’t fill in the existing hardware holes as you’ll be reusing them when you remount the doors.

Remove any loose paint or other finish with a scrapper. Next, using fine-course sandpaper scour the surface of the doors as well as the cabinet frames. If the existing paint, varnish or shellac is pitted or scratched real badly, use courser grade sandpaper. Scour all surfaces until they are smooth, and any shine on the existing finish is dulled. Paint and other applications will not adhere well to a shiny surface.

Using a sponge or cloth wipe all surfaces with clean cold water to remove any dust, rinsing often.

Now you’re ready to begin giving your kitchen cabinets that new look. Paint the cabinets on both sides starting with the inside first. Allow each coat to dry completely before turning them over to do the other side. Usually two coats per side will be enough to properly prevent the old color from seeping through.
You may also opt to use a coat of primer before apply the paint, but in many cases this is not a necessary step. Apply two coats of paint to the cabinet framing as well.

If you plan to varnish or shellac the doors, all paint needs to be removed, and the surface needs to be extremely smooth as these coating products will cause any imperfections in the surface to show prominently.

The most affective way to completely remove all existing material is to use a heat gun. You can pick one up at your local hardware store. The gun comes with easy to follow instructions. I will add that it’s important to be cautious of children who may be in the area as they can easily get burned with one of these guns.

Once all existing material is removed, continue prepping your kitchen cabinet doors and framing as directed above. It is very important to make sure the surfaces are dust-free before applying any varnish or shellac.

When applying varnish or shellac, be sure each coat is thin. Heavy coats will run and you’ll end up with an uneven look when it dries. Once all surfaces have dried completely, hang your cabinet doors and reveal in their new look.

Some variations to these basic steps would be to apply wood-adhering decals on the doors before applying varnish or shellac. You could also use stencils or sponge shapes to add some detail to your painted cabinet doors after the base coat has dried. Finally, replacing the old hardware with new will give your kitchen cabinets that little extra touch that will make all your efforts stand out even more.

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