How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

Bring new life to your old cabinets

FH99MAR_KITCAB_01-3 refinishing kitchen cabinets refinish kitchen cabinets

Family Handyman

transform dated, exhausted cabinets into attractive new ones. This article shows how to refinish erstwhile kitchen cabinets and replace the doors and hardware.

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Before your buy new cabinets


It looks hopeless, but with new doors and enamel cabinet boxes you can create a hale modern kitchen without the huge expense of replacing everything .
You ’ ll be amazed at how bare it is to update your kitchen without tearing out your old cabinets and wholly remodeling. By repainting the cabinets and installing new doors, you can achieve a whole new look at a fraction of the cost of new cabinets. To achieve our dramatic new count, we took off the old doors and painted the cabinet frames with a black, satin-finish anoint paint. then we hung slenderly larger cherry gore doors with concealed “ Euro-style ” hinges. This reduced the space between the doors and eliminated hinge clutter for a more contemporary expression .
Our kitchen design combines authoritative and contemporary elements for a clean, eclectic search that blends well with many home styles, but these techniques work capital to create any stylus you like. For a more traditional look, consider ordering raised-panel doors, or order bang doors for a slick, modern spirit. We ’ ll show you how to apply a smooth and durable painted polish to your cabinets, and then walk you through the process of ordering and installing the right-sized cabinet doors and hinges .

Is this project for you?

This refinish kitchen cabinets project international relations and security network ’ thymine as involved, or as messy, as a complete kitchen remodel, but it ’ sulfur still a major undertaking. Be prepared to devote three or four weekends, a bunch of elbow dirt and maximal brain. There ’ south not much carpentry cultivate involved, but you ’ ll have to plan carefully and measure accurately to get the cabinet doors right. The paint is chiefly a matter of doggedness. You ’ ll spend a draw of time clean, sanding and spackling before you can even think about putting on paint for the kitchen cabinet refinishing project .
In addition to the paint tools listed below, you ’ ll need basic hand tools plus a drill, a handsaw, a hot-melt glue gunman, and a vacuum clean with a hose and upholstery brush attachment .
For this refinishing cabinets project we purchased 16 cabinet doors and eight draftsman fronts along with new hinges. We found a wide survival of cosmetic glaze at a local stain glass provision storehouse and chose a “ crossreeded ” practice. The sum price of the cabinet refilling, not including the bin pulls and knobs, was less than half the cost of standard new cabinets .
( For another approach to renewing old cabinets, see Cabinet Refacing. )

Ordering doors and hinges: How to make a complex job easy

Photo 1: Carefully measure for new doors and drawer fronts

Unscrew the hinges and remove the doors. You ’ ll be reusing the drawers, so count them before taking them out .

Photo 2: Use masking tape to visualize spacing

Apply masking record to the cabinet face to indicate your hope distance between doors and drawers. We used 1/2-in. tape to mimic 1/2-in. spacing. Allow extra space in the recess so draftsman knob don ’ thyroxine collide. To find the clearance needed, add the drawer battlefront thickness ( 3/4 in. ) to the depth of the knob you ’ ll be using and then add at least 3/8 in .

Photo 3: Measure drawer and door sizes

bill between the strips of tape to determine the width first, then the acme, of each drawer front and door. then criminal record these measurements on a carefully drawn sketch. measuring stick to the nearest 1/16 in. Number each door and drawer on the sketch. For openings requiring two doors, subtract 1/8 in. for clearance between the doors, then divide the remainder by 2 to determine the width of each doorway .

Photo 4: Measure for the hinges

measurement from the border of the frame to the disguise tape on the hinge side of every door to determine the distance the door will overlap the cabinet frame. This distance is called the overlie and is needed to ordering the correct-sized hinge mounting plates. record this distance next to the corresponding doorway on your sketch. subtract 1/8 in. from the overlie to determine the mounting plate size. For example, order 5/8-in. plates if the overlie distance is 3/4 in .
If you ’ re happy with the expression of your old cabinets and just want to change the door style, plainly measure the old doors and order new ones the lapp size. Have 35mm holes drilled in the back of the doors if you want to use conceal hinges like the ones we ’ rhenium using .
To achieve the more contemporary look we show here, you ’ ll have to order larger doors to cover more of the cabinet front ( face frame ). It ’ south not deoxyadenosine monophosphate simple as merely ordering larger doors, though. Since the doors will overlap the skeleton far than a ceremonious hinge allows, you ’ ll besides have to order a particular hide “ cup ” hinge that fits into a 35mm fix in the back of the door ( Photos 13 and 14 ). The hinge is attached to the confront frame of the cabinet with a separate firearm called a ride plate. Mounting plates are available in unlike sizes ( 1/4, 1/2, 5/8, 3/4, 1, 1-1/8, 1-1/4 and 1-3/8, and 1-3/8 to eternity ) depending on how far you want the door to overlap the face frame. Photo 4 shows how to measure each door opening for the correct-sized mounting plate .
We used Blum Compact 33 hinges ( available at woodworking stores or on-line ), but other brands are available .
The easy way to size and measure for the newfangled doors is to lay out the door and draftsman spacing on the honest-to-god cabinet confront frame ( Photo 2 ). Use 1/2-in. masking tape to represent the distance between doors and drawers. meter cautiously when you install the record because you ’ ll use it to determine door and drawer sizes ( Photo 3 ). The disguise tape allows you to visualize the spacing and work out details before you order the doors .
Determining the spacing between doors is basically a design decisiveness, but there are a few things to consider. The hinges we used allow the doors to be hung a little as 3/8 in. apart, but spacing doors this conclude requires accuracy that ’ s hard to achieve on older cabinets. The closer the doors are to each other, the more visible any deviation in the space becomes. We chose 1/2-in. space because it allowed us a little “ cheating ” room and still achieved the contemporary spirit we were after .
This is a bang-up time to make changes to your cabinets, since you ’ ll be painting the frames and can well fill seams and collar holes. We reduced the size of the rampart cabinet doors to the left of the stave and added a narrow-minded open ledge for cookbooks ( Photo 8 ). We besides eliminated the cut boards so we could make the draftsman fronts tall, and added 3/4-in. strips to the cabinet above the stave to improve doorway alignment .
When you ’ re happy with the spacing and have double-checked the inside corners to be sure drawers won ’ thymine collide after you ’ ve added the new pulls, you ’ re ready to measure for and order the doors and draftsman fronts ( Photo 3 ). Order doors from a company that specializes in building cabinet doors, or find a local cabinetmaker to build them. Search on-line for “ kitchen cabinet doors. ” Visit local cabinet showrooms and attend at cabinet door literature to choose a door manner you like .
Let the cabinet door godhead know which stigmatize of 35mm hinge you intend to use and ask him or her to bore the holes for you. This overhaul is well worth the small excess charge. differently you ’ ll have to buy an expensive 35mm bite and use a drill press or jig to bore the holes. Order special doors to accept looking glass panels .
doorway prices will vary, depending on wood type and doorway style, with cherry and less common hardwoods equally a lot as doubly the cost of oak .

Door styles

The erstwhile partial-overlay doors left the face skeleton largely exposed ; full-overlay doors hide most of the skeletal system .
Part of refinishing the kitchen cabinets is to replace the old doors.Full-overlay doors are an important part of refinishing the kitchen cabinets.

Tips for a smooth, durable paint job

Photo 5: Start the refinishing with a good cleaning

Clean the cabinets with a mineral spirits–dampened rag to remove open contaminants. then thoroughly scrub them with a 50/50 solution of family ammonia water and water. last, rinse with clear body of water and allow to dry. Sand the cabinets with 80-grit emery paper to remove bumps and roughen the open .

Photo 6: Apply filler

Wipe with a bonding solvent. Allow 90 minutes ’ drying time before troweling a thin level of spackling compound over the entire surface to fill holes, imperfections and forest grain pores. trench holes will require a moment coat after the inaugural dries .

Photo 7: Sand the cabinets smooth

Sand the spackling compound flower to the cabinet surface with 120-grit sandpaper after it dries. Depending on temperature and humidity, drying fourth dimension will vary from a few hours to overnight. Wear a dust mask. Look for areas needing extra satiate and reapply spackling if necessary. Resand these spots when the spackling dries .

Photo 8: Clean up the dust

Vacuum all of the cabinets and the entire kitchen with an upholstery brush attached to a shop class vacuum or potent family vacuum. Use a impregnable light to cautiously inspect the cabinets for areas needing extra sandpaper .

Photo 9: Prime the wood

Prime the disposed wood surfaces with pigment shellac sealer for kitchen cabinet refinish. Use a good-quality 2-in. brush. Pour about 1-1/2 in. of your fuse into a small can and dip the brush about 1 in. Press the brush against the side of the can to remove excess fuse. Don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate wipe it across the rim ; this removes besides much primer. Shellac dries very fast, so work quickly and don ’ t go back over areas that have started to dry. Don ’ thymine worry if the coverage international relations and security network ’ t even ; merely try to avoid heavy buildup and runs. Clean up spills and the brush with denature alcohol.

Photo 10: Paint the first coat

Brush on the beginning coating of key after lightly sanding the dried shellac with a fine-grit sandpaper sponge and vacuuming off the scatter. Quickly brush on a coating of paint, then smooth it out with long, light strokes using barely the lean of the brush .

Photo 11: Sand between coats

Sand lightly between every coat using a fine-grit sandpaper sponge. Drying clock time between coats will vary depending on temperature and humidity. Allow at least eight hours. then vacuum off the debris and recoat. Brush on the final coat. work from circus tent to bottom so you don ’ t drip on finished areas .
once the doors are ordered, you can get to the commercial enterprise of paint. Follow the steps in Photos 5 – 11 for a placid, durable finish. We used anoint paint ( alkyd ) on the cabinets, but top choice ( i.e. : the most expensive ) acrylic paint or water-based vegetable oil finishes do equitable adenine well if applied by rights .
If you use oil paint and the paint seems slurred or sluggish, sparse it with up to 6 ozs. of Penetrol paint conditioner per quart until it flows on smoothly. Two or three thin coats of rouge result in a stronger, smoother finish than one thick coat .
Whenever you use products with organic solvents, like shellac or alkyd paint, provide enough of public discussion and wear a NIOSH-approved organic vaporization respirator .
The first base prerequisite for a durable key job is that every coat of rouge adhesiveness well to the former layer. Make sure the original cabinet end is bonded tightly to the wood by making a minor “ X ” with a tongue and sticking a firearm of Scotch tape over the “ X. ” now rip the magnetic tape off and see if it pulls any stopping point with it. If it does, you should strip off the original complete before painting. clean and sand the cabinets as shown in Photo 5 to ensure a good bail to the master coating. We chose shellac as a fuse for its ability to cling doggedly to most finishes. If you use products other than what we ’ ra commend, follow the manufacturer ’ sulfur recommendations and make surely they ’ ra compatible with each other .
For a flawless paint caper, you must start with a perfectly smooth coat, and maintain a dust-free environment while you ’ re painting. Follow the fill, sanding and vacuuming procedures shown in Photos 6 – 8. Fill large holes and chipped edges with a bipartite hardening-type makeweight like Minwax High-Performance Wood Filler, 12-Ounce Can # 21600, available through our affiliation with It ’ s more durable, harden cursorily and won ’ metric ton shrink like spackling. Sand carefully, using a bright light to check your work .
Paint the insides of cabinets first, then start at the top of the face frame and work down. Lay paint on promptly, then smooth it out with long, light brush strokes. Always work from dry areas into painted areas. Work promptly and complete an area before moving on so you ’ re never brushing over partially dried paint. If paint sneaks onto an area you can ’ metric ton get to soon ( around a corner, for exemplar ), use a tease dampened with mineral spirits to wipe the paint off. If a run or sag develops, or a haircloth or speck gets in the key, let the paint dry and sand it out before recoating .

A Top-Quality Paint Job Requires First-Class Tools

You ’ ve got to have the right tools to get a high-grade rouge job. Besides, they ’ ll make the job easier and more enjoyable. For one-stop patronize, dependable advice and the best painting tools and products, patronize at a reputable paint memory quite than a family focus on or lumberyard. It may cost you a few bucks more, but you ’ ll be buying the tools the pros use. ( See Additional Information, below, for a fully tilt of rouge supplies. )

  • Get a 1-1/2 in. flexible putty knife (not the stiff scraper version) for spreading spackling on the narrow cabinet frames and for filling holes. Then for faster coverage of the end panels and fewer ridges to sand off, pick up a 3-1/2 in. flexible knife.
  • A rubber sanding block that holds a one-third sheet of sandpaper is perfect for getting the spackle sanded off smooth and level. Fine-grit sanding sponges are handy for sanding into corners.
  • They’re not exactly tools, but 1-gal. paint strainers are an essential ingredient for a smooth paint job. They’re good for one use and are disposable, so pick up a half-dozen. Pour your paint through the strainer into a separate container before using it. This will eliminate the possibility of lumps from the paint spoiling your perfect paint job.
  • Don’t use your best brush to prime with shellac. Shellac is a great sealer, but it’s miserable to clean out of a brush. Buy a 2-in. medium-priced, good-quality brush for this task and clean it immediately after use with denatured alcohol.
  • Like any good tool, a top-quality paint brush is a joy to use, and with proper care and cleaning will last until you wear out the bristles (which takes more painting than you’re likely to do in a lifetime). The painters we spoke to buy brushes with a 25 percent boar bristle/75 percent china bristle blend and use them only for the final coats of oil paint. The bristles on these expensive brushes are designed to hold plenty of paint, and are flexible enough and tapered just right to allow you to make those light feathery finishing strokes necessary for a perfectly smooth enameling job. Buy a 1-1/2 in. brush to paint the face frames and a 2-1/2 in. brush for the flat panels. Get in the habit of cleaning your brushes immediately after use with mineral spirits (or warm, soapy water for water-based paints); otherwise, you’ll end up with a collection of crusty, hard brushes.
  • Buy another 2-1/2 in. china bristle brush to use exclusively with varnish. Otherwise you run the risk of bits of dried paint getting in the varnish.

TIP: Collect the mineral spirits ; don ’ metric ton let it run down the drain or on the land. storehouse it in a closed container for recycle after the paint solids settle to the bottom. Dispose of the solids at your local hazardous waste facility .

Simple door hanging with stylish concealed hinges

Photo 12: Finish the doors

stain and seal the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Use a prestain conditioner on pine, cherry and birch to help even out blotchiness. Use compatible products and allow each coat to dry according to the directions on the label. sandpaper with a fine-grit leech between coats of sealant ( we used polyurethane ) and vacuum off the dust. Use a best-quality china bristle brush for vegetable oil varnish or polyurethane. Brush horizontal rails first, then vertical stiles and last, the flat dialog box .

Photo 13: Fasten the hinges to the doors

Press the hinges into the 35mm holes in the back of the cabinet doors. Align the hinge with a combination square and attach it with the small Phillips point screw provided. Refer to your cartoon to determine the distance this door will overlay the frame, and attach the match hop on denture to the hinge .

Photo 14: Attach the doors to the frame

Draw lines on masking magnetic tape to indicate the edge of the doors and drawers ( use low-adhesive tape made specially for sensitive surfaces ). Align the edge of the door with the channel and put one fuck in each hinge. After all doors are hang, adjust them so they align at the top and are evenly spaced. Use a Pozi screwdriver to loosen and tighten the allowance screw on the hinge. Add the moment hinge screw when all doors are hang and properly aligned .

Placing the first screw

place the first screw in the center of the elongated hole to allow for slender adjustments .

Photo 15: Prepare the old drawers

Saw off the brim on the draftsman front that protrudes from the draftsman box. Use a handsaw, table examine or miter see for the ends and a table see or handsaw for the top and bed edges. Smooth the edges with a knock drum sander or forest rasp .

Photo 16: Attach the new drawer fronts

Drill four 5/16-in. holes through the old drawer front. Put two dabs of blistering melt glue on the back of the new drawer front. Align the new drawer movement with the marks on the mask magnetic tape and press it against the drawer for 20 seconds until the glue cools. Carefully pull out the drawer and draw lines on the back of the drawer battlefront to mark its position. Remove the front and scrape off the cool spot of glue. now align the marks and attach the new front to the draftsman with No. 6 x 1-1/4 in. wood screws through No. 10 polish washers. The outsize holes allow slight adaptation if necessity .

Photo 17: Install new handles

Install drawer pulls and doorknob. Drill 3/16-in. holes for the knob prison guard. Use a template to accurately locate doorknob. measure carefully for drawer hardware. Use a astute bit, high accelerate and medium press to avoid splintering the wood on the back of the hole. If secede is a problem, clamp a small block of wood to the rear of the door before you drill the trap .
By now you ’ ll be pretty commodity with a paint brush, and equitable in time, because the raw doors will need to be sealed ( Photo 12 ). You may be able to avoid this undertaking by ordering prefinished doors. We finished our doors with one coating of prestain conditioner, one coat of oil stain, and two coats of polyurethane varnish. The prestain conditioner helps prevent uneven blot penetration on blotchy woods like cherry, ache and birch. thinly sandpaper and vacuum between varnish coats for maximal smoothness .
Photos 13 and 14 display how to install the hinges and hang the doors. This is the here and now of truth when you ’ ll find out if the doors you ordered in truth meet as planned. Single doors normally don ’ thyroxine present a problem, but pairs that join in the center are catchy. Don ’ t panic if they ’ re besides besotted or have excessively large a gap between them. If the hinges don ’ triiodothyronine adjust far adequate to correct the trouble, change the ride plates. For model, if the doors are excessively nasty with 3/4-in. overlie plates, change the plates on one door to 1-in. overlay .
Tip: Order a few extra pairs of mounting plates with the adjacent larger and smaller overlay to allow maximum flexibility when you ’ re hanging the doors .
In a nip, you can besides increase the space by chiseling a notch in the edge of the confront frame for the mounting plate to drop into, or put a minor shim under a mounting plate to reduce the space .
Adjust the doors up and down by moving the mounting plate, and sideways by loosening the adjust prison guard on the hinge. The adjusting screw look like Phillips head screws but are actually designed to be used with a particular Pozi screwdriver. Pozi screwdrivers are available where hinges are sold. Install and adjust the doors before installing the drawer fronts. When all the doors and drawers fronts are on and adjusted, go bet on and add the moment fuck to the hinge mounting plate and tighten all the adjusting screws .
now all that ’ s left to do is install the draftsman pulls and door handles ( Photo 17 ). once things start looking this good, it ’ south hard to resist making a few more changes. We filled the large distance above the upper cabinet doors with cerise boards, and added galvanize plane metallic element to the backsplash area. The new countertops are prefabricated credit card laminate ( available through lumberyards, home centers or on-line ) .

Attaching Drawer Fronts

Figures C and D show how to fasten the modern draftsman fronts to either a two-dimensional panel or raised panel drawer .
Figure C shows how to deal with a flat panel drawer front when you refinish the kitchen cabinets.Figure D shows how to deal with a raised panel drawer front when you refinish the kitchen cabinets.

Additional Information

Required Tools for this refinish kitchen cabinets Project

Have the necessary tools for this refinish kitchen cabinets DIY undertaking lined up before you start—you ’ ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Belt sander
  • Clamps
  • Cordless drill
  • Drill bit set
  • Dust mask
  • Handsaw
  • Hot melt glue gun
  • Miter saw
  • Paint scraper
  • Paintbrush
  • Putty knife
  • Safety glasses
  • Sanding block
  • Self-centering drill bit
  • Shop vacuum
  • Table saw
  • Tape measure
  • Wood chisel

You’ll also need rubber gloves, an organic vapor respirator, a 3 1/2-in. flexible putty knife and a Pozi screwdriver.

Required Materials for this refinish kitchen cabinets Project

You ’ ll besides need condom gloves, an organic vaporization respirator, a 3 1/2-in. flexible putty knife and a Pozi screwdriver. Avoid last-minute patronize trips by having all your materials ready ahead of prison term. here ’ s a list .

  • Cabinet knobs and pulls
  • Kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts
  • No. 10 finish washers
  • No. 8×1-1/4″ wood screws
  • Sanding block
  • Sandpaper
  • Scrubbing pads

For a complete list of painting supplies, see Additional Information.

For a complete list of painting supplies, see extra Information .

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