A Labor Intensive Procedure
Although the results of a new finish can be quite
dramatic, refinishing your cabinets is a time consuming,
complicated and labor-intensive process. To do the job
properly you must strip, bleach, sand or scrape, and
restain your existing cabinet surfaces before adding a
new top coat or varnish. You must also know the species
of wood that you are refinishing before beginning. This
can be further complicated by the fact that your kitchen
cabinetry could be made of several differing types of
wood species. Although it is possible to restain and
refinish your cabinetry in a finish darker than its
original hue, it is nearly impossible to refinish them
in a lighter one. But, if you own high-quality natural
wood cabinets that require updating, and you want to
maintain their natural wood appearance, you may decide
to refinish them with new stain and top coating.
Select Your Refinishing Alternative
You can refinish all your existing cabinet surfaces,
including your doors and drawers, or buy new,
ready-to-finish doors and drawers and stain them to
match your restained casework. Rockler recommends buying
new doors and drawer fronts for several reasons. The
harsh chemical strippers used to remove old finish can
deteriorate glue and cause panel doors and other glued
pieces to come undone. Edge treatments and intricate
surfaces can be extremely difficult to strip and prepare
for new stain and finish. Finish coats can also take an
inordinate amount of time to dry, further complicating
the refinishing process. Investing in new doors and
drawer fronts is a solution that can save lots of time,
money, and aggravation. Rockler's custom door and drawer
front programs offer a wide selection of affordable,
ready-to-finish styles from which to choose. Simply
determine the size, style, and edge option of the door
and drawer fronts you need. You can either match the
style of your existing doors and drawer fronts, or chose
a new one for an exciting new look.
New hardware will add the refinement of a
professional kitchen update.
Choose Your New Finish
To begin your refinishing project, you will need to
determine what type of stain and finish you will use to
beautify and protect your cabinetry. There are many
types of finishes available. Since the science of finish
work is beyond the scope of this series of articles,
Rockler recommends that you consult with a professional
finish retailer or consultant.
The Refinishing Process
Thorough preparation is the key to a successful
refinishing job. Be sure to work in an empty and
well-ventilated room, and follow the refinishing
Step by Step Instructions
- Remove door and drawer hardware, and take all
doors off their hinges.
- Remove existing finish and stain from all
surfaces by sanding, scraping with a cabinet
scraper, or using a chemical remover. When using
chemical strippers, follow manufacturer. s
directions carefully and use necessary
- If necessary, bleach old stain from existing
wood surfaces. When using bleaching agents, follow
manufacturer's directions carefully and use
necessary safety precautions.
- Sand or scrape existing wood surfaces smooth to
prepare them for new stain. A carbide scraper or
cabinet scraper works well.
Remove all dust from cabinet surfaces to prepare
for staining and finishing.
- Stain the surfaces of your cabinetry and
casework. When using stain, follow the manufacturer.
s directions carefully.
- Apply an oil, varnish, or polyurethane varnish
finish according to the manufacturer's
Back to Updating Options
Books and Resources
Cabinet Making Books