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How To Refinish Kitchen Cabinets In Your Home

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Renovation is never easy, but fortunately, there are several options available to help you along the way. Finishing, replacing or resurfacing your cabinets represents different price points and requires different levels of effort, but they can all bring a drab, sleepy kitchen back to life.

Refinishing your cabinets can offer the same "wow" factor as a replacement, and for only a fraction of the cost. When refacing, keep the cabinet boxes in place, but replace the doors, drawers and lining in an updated style.

The kitchen cabinet refinishing is the simplest and least expensive option, and can do wonders for the look of most kitchens. Like refinishing, it's a solid option if your cabinets are in good condition and you're happy with the design of your kitchen.

A step-by-step guide to refinishing cabinets

Even if you don't spend the entire weekend working hands-on, be sure to set aside two to three full days to allow for drying time between steps.

Prepare your kitchen

Empty all your cupboard boxes and drawers. Remove appliances from countertops. Place rags on the floor under your cabinet boxes and use painter's tape to protect the walls covering them. Open windows to make sure the kitchen is well ventilated.

Set up a preparation area

Create a staging area to complete most of your work. If possible, use an outdoor location, which can help with ventilation and drying times. Place rags on the ground or dirt to protect the preparation area from chemicals and paint, as well as any paths that connect it to the work area. If you have easels, place them on overhanging cloths so you can work on your cabinet doors and floor drawers.

Remove hardware, doors and drawers.

Use your drill to remove the screws and disassemble all existing handles and hinges. Next, remove the cabinet doors from their boxes. Slide the drawers according to your design and take them, along with the doors, to your prep area for cleaning and painting.

Tape and sand cabinets

Use your paint and stain remover to remove the old finish from the doors, drawers and cabinet lining. Follow the instructions on the stripper you purchase, as they vary from product to product. Typically, however, you should apply the stripper solution, allow it to dry and then scrape it and finish off with a putty knife. Once the finish is removed, sand the surfaces evenly with 100-grit sandpaper to remove any excess finish.

Prime Cabinets, if necessary, and sand.

If you are painting your cabinets rather than staining them, you should consider a coat of primer before applying the paint. Primer helps the paint adhere to the wood, cure more evenly and reduce the number of coats of paint you need. 

Use your rollers and brushes to apply a coat of primer to all surfaces you plan to paint. Once you have finished priming, let it dry for a day before painting. 

Paint or stain cabinets

If you are painting, brush a coat on the front of the doors, drawers and cabinet box. Be sure to brush in line with the grain of the wood. Allow the doors and drawers to dry on a flat surface so the paint does not drip. Flip the doors over once they are dry and paint the other side. You can protect the dry coat by using your easels, but if you don't have any, just make sure the surface you use is clean. If you're staining, you're going to want to follow the same pattern. 

Carefully brush a coat of stain with the wood grain, but instead of letting it dry, use a rag to wipe off the excess as you go. For paint and stain, an additional coat is necessary if the finish appears blotchy after drying. Wait a minimum of four hours before applying a final coat.

If you're feeling energised by all the money you've saved, consider updating other rooms in your home by replacing light fixtures, removing the popcorn ceiling or repainting interior walls. All of these updates can upgrade your home and increase its long-term value.

How have you improved your home since refinishing your cabinets?