Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets - 10 Steps to Rehab
10 Steps for Refinishing Cabinets
Refinishing kitchen cabinets is one of the quickest, cheapest
ways to perk up a woeful kitchen. Besides new hardware, new paint
will complete the job. Here are ten tips to smooth your cabinet
- Pick your paint. Buy the highest
quality 100-percent acrylic enamel paint. Some old-timers will
insist on oil-based paint for added hardness, but it is tough to
clean up and emits nasty volatile organic compounds that aren't
worth the results. Glossy finish is best. You might want to look
into a glaze or crackle finish for added effect. Buy top-quality
brushes--synthetic for latex, or natural fiber should you use
oil-based. Use a 1-inch brush for the narrow stiles on the face of
the cabinet; a 2½ or 3-inch brush for the rest.
- Inside job. Paint the interior of
your cabinets. Ignoring them isn't classy.
- Deconstruct. Remove doors and
drawers, hinges and pulls. Most drawers will have faces that are
screwed to the box; remove the face making sure to save the
- Prep. As with any paint job, proper
preparation is everything. Wash everything with TSP or other
high-quality cleaner that will remove grease and grime, then rinse.
TSP is a harsh product--obey its instructions.
- Fill. Repair any dings with filler.
Smooth the filler to the surrounding surface with 120 or 150-grit
paper on a sanding block.
- Sand. With a few swipes sand
everything that will be painted with the 120 or 150-grit paper on a
sanding block; then, wipe with a damp cloth.
- Mask. Cover or mask everything that
is not to be painted! Use good painters tape.
- Prime. Paint everything with
primer. Your neighbor might tell you that you needn't prime if you
are painting over old paint, but that's only if you are painting a
similar color. Any filler, stained surface or different color will
need to be primed. Consult your paint supplier to get the proper
primer for your paint.
- Paint. Finally--the easy
part--painting! To keep brush marks to a minimum, use your brush to
lay the coat onto the surface; don't brush back and forth over the
paint several times to spread it thin. Keep a "wet edge." Painting
over a drying edge of paint will show. Pull the brush off the edge
or corner of the wood; brushing onto the edge will result in drips.
You will need two coats.
- Remounting. The holes in the drawer
box through which you put screws to hold the drawer faces will be
larger in diameter than the screws, giving you "slop" in the
mounting of the faces. When remounting them, tighten the screws
only slightly so that the faces can be slid sideways or up and
down. When the drawers are installed, align all of the faces; then
tighten the screws firmly.
A bright coat of paint goes a long way to revitalize your
kitchen. Just because it is cheap, don't give it the brush-off. It
will do just fine till you win the lottery and can afford those new
About the author: Jim Mallery, a
semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has
extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding
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