Top DIY Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Tips



Refinishing kitchen cabinets can be a great way to lower your remodeling costs, with the added bonus of being able to make them look exactly the way you want. There is also great peace of mind that comes with refinishing kitchen cabinets yourself, because you will always know the job was done well.

Below are 5 top DIY kitchen cabinet refinishing tips to help you stay organized, save money and do a professional-grade job:


1. Secure the Area—

Before you start refinishing, you’ll want to make sure you have a clean workspace, and spread a tarp beneath the area. This will prevent contamination of newly-finished surfaces, and protect the floors from paints and stains.

If you’re working outdoors or in a garage, you may want to tape down the tarp to prevent wind from lifting and spilling chemicals. If working indoors, open as many windows and consider setting up fans to promote ventilation.


2. Remove the Doors—

Your biceps will thank you if you take the doors off your kitchen cabinets before you work, as holding arms up in the air for extended periods of time can strain muscles, drastically reducing productivity.

Be sure to remove any hardware, handles and knobs from each cabinet before you start taking off the doors, and label the hardware in plastic bags with masking tape.

Also label each door and where it previously hung with corresponding numbers, because older cabinets can settle over time, making it important to put the puzzle pieces of your kitchen back together in order.


3. Perfectly Prepare Surfaces—

Whether you are painting or staining your kitchen cabinets, they will need to be stripped completely, with holes patched and surfaces sanded to the desired texture.

Before any sort of sanding or stripping, however, clean the cabinets thoroughly with a degreaser product to prevent sandpaper from pushing dirt into the grain of the wood, and make sure they’re completely dry before moving forward.

A chemical paint remover may be required to prepare the surface of the cabinets, so be sure to wear gloves, and don’t be afraid to use a putty knife to gently remove paint from the surfaces. You can sand down any small imperfections you create in the wood later.


4. Handling the Hardware—

If you are keeping the current hardware—the hinges, knobs, handles and pulls—now, while they’re disassembled and loose is a great time to give them a thorough cleaning because you can reach every crack and corner.

Soaking hardware in soapy water before you clean and polish it will help loosen grease and grime, making it easier to remove.

Buying new hardware, however, can add a brand new style to your kitchen—just take the old hardware along when you go shopping to make sure it’s compatible and will fit cabinet doors.


5. Take Your Time—

When a project is rushed—either DIY or professional—it is nearly always apparent when looking at the finished product whether it was done with care, or in a messy rush.

Take every stage slowly, and whether you’re cleaning, stripping, sanding, staining, sealing, lacquering or painting your kitchen cabinets, follow the instructions, give each process time to dry.

In short: However you decide to refinish your kitchen cabinets, be precise and do it right the first time so you’re not trying to fix ugly mistakes later.


Especially if you have an older house, and even if the style is out-of-date, the quality of your cabinets may be better than what you can afford new, as cabinets were built from sturdy wood back in the day. This means that if you can refinish your older cabinets to reflect your currently desired kitchen style, they should last a very long time.

Use the tips above to make the refinishing process go as smoothly and quickly as possible, and make your remodeling investment look amazing.