Cabinet Refinishing – What You Need to Know

San Jose Cabinet Refinishing can be an excellent option when you like the style of your cabinets but need to change the color. It is also much cheaper than replacing them altogether.

Cabinet Refinishing

However, refinishing doesn’t work on certain materials, such as thermofoil or laminate. Thermofoil and laminate can’t be stripped or sanded so paint won’t stick to them.

Cabinet refinishing is not as dramatic as a refacing job but it hides wear and tear, freshens up the look of your kitchen, and can save you money. It is also the right option for you if you like your cabinets’ finish and don’t want to invest in a full replacement. It’s important to decide how you’d like your cabinets to function and then visualize how they will work in your space before choosing between refinishing or replacing them.

The first step in the refinishing process is to remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. To do this, a screwdriver and cordless drill are used to unscrew the hardware. After removing the cabinet doors, a wood filler is applied to any cracks and nicks. Then, the surfaces are sprayed with a solvent-borne lacquer. This process takes three to four days and creates volatile fumes that will remain in the air for a day or two.

Once the cabinets are dry, you can use a cloth to wipe away any dust that has settled. Then, you can sand the cabinet doors using a foam sanding block to smooth down the surface. If the doors are already a light color, you can skip this step or apply a deglosser to the surface.

The deglosser will seal the surface and create a better bond for the primer. Now it’s time to prime the cabinet surfaces. A stain-blocking primer is recommended if the cabinet surfaces are heavily stained because it will prevent the new paint from bleeding into the existing stain. In most cases, though, a regular latex or oil-based primer should do the trick.

After priming the surfaces, you can start painting. It’s best to hire a professional for this part of the project, as they have the proper equipment to get a good, even coat of paint without any drips or unevenness. Then, once the paint is dry, you can replace your cabinet door and drawer fronts. Don’t forget to install a new hinge and knobs! Before you know it, your kitchen will be complete.


Before the refinishing can begin, you’ll need to strip the cabinets of any existing finish. This typically involves using some type of chemical stripper or heavy sanding, and may take some serious elbow grease. During this process, it is important to protect the rest of your kitchen and yourself by covering countertops, appliances, and floors with painter’s plastic or drop cloths. Also, make sure to wear sturdy work gloves and protective eyewear as you will be exposed to a fair amount of chemicals during this step.

When you are ready to strip the cabinet doors, remove them and lay them flat on a table. Begin by removing any hardware and wipe down the surface of each door with a damp cloth to remove any grease or dirt that might be on it. Next, pour a thick layer of your chosen stripper into a paint pan or bucket and apply it to the doors and cabinet frames using a brush. A more formal system would include a pump and re-circulating system to dispense and capture the stripper as it evaporates, but even this can be done with a large, empty milk jug or trash container that you’ve modified for the job.

Once the stripper has been allowed to sit for a while, it should start to bubble and lift off the existing paint. After a few minutes, use your plastic scraper to remove as much of the stripper and paint as possible. Continue this process until the majority of the original paint is removed, and be careful to avoid any wood damage during the sanding stage.

Aside from a good quality plastic scraper, you’ll need a few other tools to make this project a success. A respirator or face mask is a must, as you’ll be working with chemicals that can be very irritating to the respiratory tract. You’ll also want to be wearing rubber or leather gloves to avoid any splinters from the wood. Finally, a good set of sandpaper is required to smooth any rough areas once the stripping is complete.

If you’re not interested in tackling this project yourself, consider finding a local refinishing business that will be happy to do the job for a reasonable fee. This is a great way to save time, money and headaches while getting the job done right.


After stripping your cabinets, repairing any cracks or holes, and sanding the surface lightly, it is time to paint. You will want to use a high-quality oil or latex enamel to ensure the cabinets will hold up against everyday wear and tear. Choose a color that best suits your space and design aesthetic. It is important to apply several coats of paint for the best results. Once the paint dries, sand it again lightly and wipe away the dust. Once the cabinet doors, drawer fronts and hardware are reinstalled, you will be happy that you took the extra time to thoroughly clean, sand and paint them.

Before painting, remove all of the hinges, handles and knobs on your cabinet doors and drawer fronts. It is important to mark where each one should return so they will line up correctly when reinstalled. You can use a key or tape to label each door and drawer front. It will also help to remove the interior adjustable shelves before painting, so they are ready to be reinstalled when you are finished.

Next, wash your cabinets with a degreasing cleaner or a 50/50 mix of Dawn dish liquid and water. Scrub the surfaces using a green Scotch Brite pad and rinse them well with clean water. Once the surfaces are completely dry, sand them lightly to create a smooth surface. Wipe the sanding dust from your surfaces before applying a primer. A stain blocking primer is a good choice and can be found at most home improvement centers.

A mini roller system works well for priming cabinetry. You will need to wait 3-4 hours for the first coat of primer to dry. After the first coat of primer dries, you can begin to paint your cabinets. We recommend that you start with a small section and work your way around the entire room to reduce the chance of splatter and drips.

Always make sure you use a good quality brush and a mini roller to prevent brush marks. If you are using a foam roller, it is better to apply a second coat of paint to eliminate any brush marks and provide a smooth finish.


Cabinet refinishing is the process of covering and filling damages, cleaning out discoloration, painting or staining, and adding a new protective layer on your cabinet’s surface. It is a fairly straightforward process and can help you achieve the exact look you desire for your cabinets. Unlike refacing, it can be done without removing any components or changing the overall design of your cabinets. However, it is still a large project and should be considered carefully before you decide to take on the task yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.

Before you apply any of the new coats, use a foam sanding block to scuff your cabinets and doors lightly. This will remove any bumps or grooves that may have formed over time and also make sure that the primer can adhere properly to the cabinet. Once you have sanded, vacuum and wipe down the cabinets to get rid of any dirt or debris that may have settled. This will give your cabinets a clean and smooth finish that will last for years to come.

You can choose from a variety of different paint finishes when you are refinishing your cabinets. Some of the most common are acrylic latex, enamel, and water-based polyurethane. You can also opt for a brush-coat finish, which is a traditional look that works well in a more traditional kitchen and can be less expensive. Whatever you choose, a good quality company will take the time to mask off your countertops, walls, and appliances so that they do not get any paint on them. They will also be careful when applying the finish so that it does not drip down and taint your floors or walls.

Many people try to do their own refinishing projects, but this is not always a wise idea. If you are not experienced with refinishing, you could end up with an uneven or blotchy finish. It is also important to test the finishing product you are using on scrap wood before attempting it on your cabinets. This will prevent you from accidentally ruining your cabinets with an experiment that does not work.