Bringing your kitchen back to life again doesn’t have to mean undergoing a massive renovation. In fact, simply repainting and fixing minor flaws on your cabinets can make your kitchen look brand-new again.

The excellent news is that you can refinish all the kitchen cabinets yourself. However, you will need the right tools and knowledge to do the job successfully. You’ll also need enough perseverance, especially when it comes to planning and measuring your cabinets.

With that said, if you’re ready to take on this project, here are 6 easy steps you can follow to refinish your kitchen cabinets.


STEP 1: Prepare the Kitchen and Yourself

It may be tempting to skip this part, but doing this is vital to protect you and your kitchen from accidents and damages. You can start by removing all cabinets’ doors and drawers and make sure you label them with numbers so that you won’t forget which one goes where.

Next, you should cover the interior of your cabinets with plastic to keep the dust and debris from work out. Aside from that, make sure you don’t forget to cover the backsplashes to avoid any paint from sticking to them. You should also remove all small or movable appliances from the kitchen.

However, if they’re too big, you can just seal them with some plastic or cloth to protect them from dust or liquid.

Lastly, don’t forget to protect yourself. In this case, you need to wear clothes that will allow you to move freely but won’t obstruct you from doing your job correctly. You should also wear protective gear like gloves, masks, and eye protection, especially when handling dusty items and chemicals like wood cleaners.

STEP 2: Degrease and Clean the Surfaces

Degreasing and cleaning your cabinet’s surfaces is essential if you want a clean outcome. First, you can start by scraping off any leftover grease or food residues from the surface.

Next, you need to wash and scrub the surface with soap and water using stainless steel wool. Doing so will remove the grease on the surface. However, if you’re dealing with tough grease, you can use a solution of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water to remove it. TSP emulsifies grease, making it easier to remove than with soap.

After you’ve done these tasks, you should let them all dry completely before moving on to the next step.

STEP 3: Stripping Off the Finish

Next, you need to strip off the existing finish. However, before you do so, you need to choose a well-ventilated working space so that you don’t inhale any of the harmful chemicals.

Once you have a well-ventilated space to work in, you can then determine what type of finish your cabinets have.

Doing so would help you choose which stripping agent would work best for your cabinets. To help you out, here are some of the most common stripping agents and their corresponding finish types:

  • Turpentine: This works best for a wax finish.
  • Denatured Alcohol: A few drops of this stripping agent would work best for shellac and paint finish.
  • Lacquer: This is best used to dissolve a lacquer finish.
  • Xylene: This is best for a water-based finish.

You’ll only need a few drops of these stripping agents to remove your cabinets’ existing finish.

STEP 4: Sanding the Surface

Before you sand the cabinets’ surfaces, you should keep in mind that the hinges’ holes are crucial for remembering which cabinet they’re used for. That’s why you should avoid sanding these holes when you sand the cabinets.

With that said, you can start to sand the surface of the cabinets using sanding sponges. You will need to scuff all the surfaces to elevate the adhesion capacity.

Then, once you’re done sanding, you can remove all the dust using a vacuum to ensure you have a clean working environment.

STEP 5: Prime the Surface

Before you can paint your cabinets, you first need to prime them. Applying a primer will prevent you from having chipping or uneven finish on the wood surfaces.

However, you need to ensure you choose a suitable primer for your surface. This is because the wrong primer is just as bad as painting a cabinet without a primer.

A traditional oil primer has a different and noticeable odor. In contrast, most modernized primers have a low odor, which significantly benefits families with children and elderlies.

Once you have a suitable primer, you can apply it thoroughly using a brush, sprayer, or roller. Don’t forget to apply the primer on the corners as well.

Then, once you’re finished priming it, be sure to let it dry completely before proceeding to the next step. You can also lightly sand the surface again once it’s dry before applying the finish. Doing so will give you a smoother and more even surface.

STEP 6: Finishing

Once everything is primed and ready, you can now apply the finish. However, make sure you carefully follow the instructions to avoid unexpected results. With that said, you can use the same technique in priming to apply the finish.

First, you can start with the backside of your cabinet doors. It would be best to lay them flat and even on a well-protected surface.

It’s also better if you place them somewhere where they’re less likely to be moved or touched by others. For example, if you have children around, it’s generally better to place your cabinets out of their reach.

Next, you can gently apply your coating on the surface using a sprayer, brush, or roller. It would be best to have patience with this step to ensure a more even surface.

Once you’re done, you need to let it dry. Then, once it’s completely dry, you can flip it over and start coating the front part using the same process. After you have covered everything, applying a second coat is generally recommended to increase its protection and shine.


Refinishing your kitchen cabinets is a simple yet effective way to revamp your kitchen’s appearance. It’s also less costly and offers you more flexibility and freedom.

However, you need to make sure you follow all the necessary steps if you want to have excellent results.

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