Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated February 29, 2016)
When it comes to refinishing kitchen cabinets chances are that the single most difficult part is finding the time. To properly refinish your kitchen cabinets you are more than likely going to need to spend an entire weekend working on it. Despite this, refinishing your kitchen cabinets is something anyone can do.
- Prepare. The first thing that you are going to need to do is prepare your work area. For your work, you are going to want a place that is well ventilated for when you are working with the stripping compounds and stains. In addition, you are going to want a location that is able to be dust free for when everything is drying. If you have one, a garage is the best place for this task, while if you have to another room in the house
- Remove. Next, you are going to want to remove all your cabinets and the associated hardware. If you have limited space, then take only the ones that you are going to be working on at that time. After you have taken the cabinetry into your work area, remove any and all hardware and set in one location, preferably in a plastic bag so that the do not get stained or painted by accident.
- Clean. Completely remove all the dirt and grime from your cabinets. In some cases this just means dusting, but in others you are going to have to use some elbow grease to help remove the caked in dirt and grime. Thoroughly clean and remove all the dirt and grime, since if you try to apply the stain over this junk, all you are going to do is create a bigger mess.
- Strip/Sand. Once you have completely cleaned the cabinets it is time to remove the old stain. There are a couple of different ways that you could do this. The first is that you can try removing the old stain and sealer by sanding it off. This method is a little more time consuming and labor intensive, but it often provides the best results. The other method is to use stripping compounds. The stripping compound that you should use depends on what type of finish your cabinets had on it. Here is a fairly simple guide that should be able to help you: Wax—Turpentine, Shellac—Denatured alcohol, Varnish or Polyurethane—Paint/varnish remover and sanding and finally, Water-based finish—Xylene. When you use any of these materials, be sure that you are using them in a well ventilated area, and that you are following the manufacturer's instructions clearly.
- Apply Sanding Sealer. Whether you have sanded or stripped the previous varnish, if you want a truly professional appearance then you should apply something called sanding sealer. What this material does is similar in nature to a paint primer. This material enables the stain to be absorbed by the wood in an even manner, eliminating the often uneven appearance that goes with novice staining. Apply the material and let it dry, and then lightly sand with a very fine grit of sand paper (roughly 220 grit or better) to help smooth out any rough streaks that may have been left. You want to use only enough pressure to be able to hold the paper to the wood.
- Stain. After you have chosen the proper stain for your cabinets (remember as mentioned above, there are several different kinds of stains, all of which provide excellent results) you are ready to actually begin. When you are applying the stains, be sure that you allow each coat to dry completely before you add the next coat. With each additional coat that you add, the color is going to darken significantly as it dries.
- Finish. As the name implies, the finish is the final step in this process. As was mentioned earlier, there are several different types of finish that you can use, before you apply any of them, be sure that you are familiar with how the final results are going to look, as well as the manufacturer's instructions. Simply apply the finish as instructed, and allow to dry. All that you have left to do now is to reassemble your cabinets, and you are done.