Thinking about changing your cabinets? I was. I’d researched quite a few ways to refinish the cabinets and decided that refinishing was the way to go. Refacing would give a whole new look but would cost thousands of dollars. I also knew that I didn’t want to replace my cabinets because they offered a lot of storage for how small my kitchen is.
So, I took to the internet to see how to refinish the cabinets on my own. I found a lot of options, but here’s what I did.
1 package of 150 grit sandpaper
1 package of 80 grit sandpaper
1 roll of blue painter’s tape
2 drop cloths
2-4 paint brushes
1 gallon of oil based primer
1 gallon of semi-gloss interior paint
Cabinet an drawer hardware
Step 1: Empty everything out of the drawers then remove the drawers. There is no need to take the drawer face off of the drawer.
Step 2: Remove the cabinet doors and label the back with a piece of tape so you know where each door came from.
Step 3: Remove the hardware from the cabinets. I used a labeling system with sandwich bags so I would be able to put the hardware back on the spot it came from. Ex: 1t, 1m, 1b, 2t, 2m, 2b, etc, where t- top, m- middle, b- bottom since each cabinet had three hinges. Put the hardware aside for safe keeping. Clean in vinegar if desired.
Step 4: There’s many options from here forward, but since I decided to paint rather than stain the cabinets, here’s what I did. I sanded the fronts of all of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with course grit sandpaper (80). You don’t need to remove all of the varnish, just make sure that the varnish is pretty roughed up so the paint will stick. Be sure to wear your protective gear to avoid getting the sanded varnish in your eyes or mouth.
Step 5: Sand the whole surface with a fine grit sand paper (150) to smooth the surface.
Step 6: Repeat until all cabinets and drawers are complete.
Step 7: Sweep all of the sanding dust away then wipe all drawers and cabinets done with a wet rag. Set aside to try.
Step 8: Remove all items from inside your cabinets. You may want to remove all items from the area surrounding the cabinets as well since sanding dust will fly around the whole level of the house.
Step 9: Sand down all exterior parts of the cabinets using the same method as before then wipe with a wet cloth. Clean all of the dust from the area before moving to the next inside step.
Step 10: Cover the ground with a drop cloth and lay out your cabinet doors and drawers so they are off of the ground. I used paint cans to hold up the cabinet doors and painted all of my level then all of my top after I was finished with the bottoms since there wasn’t enough room to do them all at once.
Step 11: Use an oil based primer since there may be some varnish left on the surface. Use a paint brush to cover the exposed area with the primer and let dry. Note that the oil based primer is very hard to remove from any surface so be very careful.
Step 12: Leave to dry (approximately 5 hours). I also left my garage door closed with a slight opening to allow the fumes to vent out but so the dirt and dust from outside wouldn’t blow in.
Step 13: Turn cabinets over and prime the back side. At this point, you’ll have to move your labels so you don’t paint over them. I put the labels on the drop cloth by the cabinet so I didn’t lose their placement.
Step 14: Head back inside and tape around all edges of the cabinets that touch the ceiling, walls, or floor.
Step 15: Prime the exterior parts of the cabinets then leave to dry.
Step 16: Choose one side of the cabinet doors to start with. Paint 3 coats of semi-gloss interior paint making sure to wait about 5 hours or until dry before applying the next coat. (I used America’s Finest Aspen White to match my trim and doors)
Step 17: Repeat the process for the cabinets, drawers, and back sides of the cabinet doors.
Step 18: Attach hardware if desired then re-attach the cabinet doors.
And there it is! My kitchen looks so much more clean and even looks bigger and all for under $200! The biggest expense was the hardware. Without the hardware this project would have been complete under $100. Although, make sure you have a lot of time on your hands. This project also took me 50 hours to do by myself. That 5 hours between each coat is killer but so worth it!
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