Refinishing kitchen cabinets is well worth the time it takes to do it. You start out with a room that is dim and dingy and end up with a brighter, cleaner kitchen. It only takes a few basic steps to refinish your cabinets.
Decide How You Will Refinish your Kitchen Cabinets
The first thing you need to do is decide what you will do with your cabinets. You can paint the cabinets or stain and varnish the cabinets. It all depends on what look you want your kitchen to have. You can paint after about any finish has been put on. You will be limited, though, in what stains will work with your wood. In other words, if you have a dark wood like mahogany, you will not be able to put a light pine finish on it. It just will not work.
Gather All the Materials You Will Need
After you determine how you are refinishing your kitchen cabinets, get all the materials you need. Get the paint or stain and finishing agent, of course. However, you will also need: de-greaser, medium grade sandpaper, tack cloth, primer (if you are painting) and good quality paintbrushes. This is not a job where you want to use rollers or sponges. Now, you take the cabinets down. If you are just refinishing the fronts, take them down. This is easily done by unscrewing a few screws and taking off the hinges. Most drawer pulls are put on with screws also. You do not even have to empty the cupboards or drawers if you do it right and you have standard hardware.
Clean the Cabinets
Take the cabinets or cabinet fronts into a room or garage where you will do your refinishing. Make sure the room is one where the cabinets will be able to dry without having too much dust stick to their surfaces. Your next job will be to clean the cabinets. If they are like most kitchen cabinets, they are covered with grease and grime. All of that has to come off before you can start refinishing them. Use a good de-greaser and scrub them hard. If you are refinishing a kitchen cabinet that has been painted or varnished before, you will be removing that substance as well, in most cases. You can use oil paint over latex, but if you use latex paint over oil, it will peel. Therefore, if the original paint was oil and you want to use latex, you will have to completely do away with that finish. Ask your paint dealer what kind of chemical product to use to remove the old finish that is on your cabinet. Take along a sample drawer front for your paint dealer to inspect.
Sand First, then Stain or Paint, then Sand Again
Next, you have to sand the cabinets to smooth them. Use medium grade sandpaper and sand them thoroughly and evenly. Be aware that if you are refinishing your kitchen cabinets and you start sanding too soon, you will be grinding grease and dirt right into the surfaces of your cabinets. When you do sand, you want a clean, smooth surface to work with.
When the surface is ready for stain or paint, you can apply it with care. If you stain, wait the recommended time before you put on a varnish or polyurethane finish. If you paint, let it dry for several days. In either case, put on the paint or varnish in several thin coats and sand between each coat. When you are finished, do the final sanding with fine sandpaper. The final step to refinishing them is to install them and reinstall the hardware. Once you have done that, you will have a brand new look.