DIY: Refinishing Your Kitchen Cabinets
1. A Sander
2. Rubber Gloves
3. Clean Cloths or Rags
4. A Gel Stripper
5. New Cabinet Hardware
6. Cabinet Molding
7. New Paint, Shellac or Varnish
First, you will need to clean your cabinets before doing stripping of any kind. This means you have to clean off all sorts of things that could have caked onto your cabinet over the years, including old food, grease, oil and any other kitchen residue that may have accumulated on the surface of your cabinets. Clean very well with a clean cloth before you start sanding. If you’re going to remove any doors or hinges on your cabinet in order to clean more thoroughly, please make sure to mark everything. It will create a confusing disaster if you have a bunch of identical-looking cabinet doors and fixtures to deal with when it’s time to put them back on. Make sure to wear rubber gloves when using any type of harsh cleaners! You don’t want your hands to be all dried out before the real work even begins!
Next, it’s time to strip your cabinets of whatever paint or varnish is on top. Make sure that you know what type of varnish, shellac or paint is already on your existing cabinets before buying any stripper. I prefer a gel stripper because it doesn’t drip and you can work at your own pace without having to reapply too often. I stress, please do not just purchase any old kind of stripper. Most of them will look very similar and a stripper designed to strip varnish will not necessarily strip off an oil-based paint. Please make sure to check and make sure you are using the right stripping materials! Before you start stripping ANYTHING, make sure to cover up all those beautiful stainless-steel appliances and granite counter tops in your kitchen. You don’t want this stripper getting anywhere near your nice bamboo floors, either! Please make sure to cover everything, even your toaster, before you start the stripping process.
If you’re going to use the same cabinet hardware, you may want to remove it before you start stripping, as it may strip off the existing paint or varnish. If you are going to refinish your cabinet hardware as well (if it’s wood, of course!) leave on. Regardless, make sure to clean thoroughly, as you don’t want any caked-on grease to remain on the cabinet hardware. If you are choosing to purchase new cabinet hardware, it can really do a lot in updating the look of your cabinets. New cabinet hardware can be fairly inexpensive and do wonders on making over your kitchen.
After using your stripper, it’s time to thoroughly sand your cabinets. Although you can probably sand your cabinets by hand, it will be a lot easier for you to use an electric sander for this job. Which paper grit you will use depends on the wood your cabinets are made of and what the finish is, so I would ask someone at the hardware store before picking up any old kind of sandpaper. Once the wood is completely stripped and sanded, it’s time to pick out what your next varnish, stain or paint will be. I would suggest going with something drastically different than your old cabinets, that way you can have a totally new look when you’re finished.
If you’d like, you can also attach new molding to your cabinets. Although this can be a little tricky, it really adds a great charm to your kitchen and makes the cabinets look new and expensive. It’s easy to pick up molding at your local hardware store, but the cutting and measuring can sometimes be a little tricky. If you have the measurements ahead of time, sometimes the hardware store can cut the molding for you, so you may want to ask around before you take on another project entirely!
Good luck with your new cabinets! It may take a few days of hard work, but the savings and the results will be worth it. Enjoy!