Distressing Kitchen Cabinets

Although brand new cabinets can make any kitchen look stunning, why not recycle some older cabinets and make them appear distressed. Those seemingly out of date cabinets and shelves any kitchen can be transformed into beautifully re-stained, white-washed, and distressed looking pieces of art. A bit of hard work, helping hands and some offbeat tools will allow you to transform your cabinetry in a few days time.

Step 1: Sand Old Cabinetry

The most time consuming porting of this project will be devoted to sanding the old finish and lacquer off of the old cabinetry so that a new stain or white wash can be applied after the cabinets are distressed. There are many types of sanders available at any hardware store, so stock up on lots of medium and fine grade sandpaper as well as an excellent cost efficient sander. You may even be able to borrow an electric sander from a neighbor or family member to cut down on project costs. Prior to sanding the cabinets completely it is best to remove all hardware from the cabinets. It is also in your best interest to label the doors and knobs so you will know exactly where they will go back after the project is over.

Step 2: Distressing Kitchen Cabinets

Gather the following tools to create a variety of different wear-and-tear like appearances:

Small Hammer

Heavy chains

Screwdrivers (both a flat head and phillips head)

A jar of various lug nuts, bolts, and large screws

Tape measure with a metal tip that self retracts

Several sized chisels

An old fork

Any other unique metal or heavy object

Fine grade 100 grit sandpaper

Using the chains, and hammer make various indentations in the kitchen cabinets to resemble a great deal of wear over time. The chains can be swung at the wood to create dents, and the hammer can be swung from both the front flat side as well as the forked back side to create different looks. Try to distress the wood in places that would logically get worn more over time such as the edges where the cabinet will be opened. The tape measure can be opened and allowed to drag the metal tip across the wood as it retracts, and the fork can be dragged across the wood in a similar manner. The fork can also be used to create interesting pin holes in the wood buy simply poking it as you would a steak. The chisels can be used to round off the corners of the cabinets and then sanded until they are smooth. Try to sand the sharp edges off of the cabinets to make it appear that the wood has worn away with many years of loving daily usage.

Step 3: White wash and Staining

The most beautiful distressed pieces of wood are those that are white washed. This process allows the rich color of the wood to shine from beneath the white in the distressed and worn areas that we worked on in step two. If you wish to stain your cabinets again then you may wish to use a lighter and darker stain to contrast each other and offset the newly distressed areas. With white washing you can either stain the wood first and white wash second, or you may white wash first and add accents of a stained look.

If you are white washing first then follow the directions on the can for application, and using a moistened rag wipe off portions of the wash near the distressed areas so we can highlight those. After the wash dries then you may wish to take a very light stain and rub this over the cabinets with a rag to give the white wash an aged or tea stained appearance. Applying a very light stain to the wood will allow some of this stain to flow more easily into the dents, grooves, and crevices that were created while we were distressing the kitchen cabinets. Allow both the stain and white wash to dry completely in a well ventilated area prior to moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Lacquer or Sealant

Purchase a clear top coat or sealant for your cabinets so that you will be able to preserve the look that you have achieved. An idea lacquer for this type of job would be one that is not very shiny, so a matte or dull finish will add to the look of your refinished cabinetry. Be certain to purchase the appropriate amount to do several coats, and allow for each coat to fully dry before applying the next. The best place to purchase an excellent sealant is a local mega home improvement store where you can easily ask questions and learn about the materials that you may be unfamiliar with.

Step 5: Re-installation

If the cabinets were labeled earlier in the process then re-installation will be a breeze. Putting the cabinets back should be as easy as they were to take down, and will be doubly speedy if you have several sets of hands to help you out.

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