How to Refurbish Kitchen Cabinets

Old, ugly, and worn, your kitchen cabinets aren’t exactly a thing to be proud of, no matter how the rest of the space presents. It’s high time to do something about those awful embarrassments, but, you don’t exactly want to drain your wallet. The numbers prove you right in your caution — the average cost of a major kitchen remodel is $53,957, however, it returns $36,372, or, 67.4 percent on investment. While that isn’t necessarily a bad return, a minor kitchen remodel, averaging $18,064, returns an impressive $14,050, or, 77.8 percent. It’s quite clear that less truly is more when it comes to kitchen makeovers.

What’s more, it’s not only about cost, but logistics. When you demo a kitchen down to the bones, you no longer have a kitchen (which seems to be a redundant statement). Put another way, you won’t have a place to prepare and cook meals. Unless, of course, you are able to temporarily relocate your appliances to the garage or patio, where you’ll miss the convenience day in and day out — for weeks and weeks.

How to Refurbish Kitchen Cabinets

One option is to reface your kitchen cabinets. This isn’t necessarily an expensive alternative to total replacement, but, it’s one that best left to an experienced and skilled contractor. Refacing requires quite a bit of technical know-how. Refurbishing those fixtures is much less complex and less expensive. You can do this by repainting, which practically anyone can do within a couple to a few days.

“Your kitchen gets a lot of use. So it doesn’t take long to begin seeing signs of wear and tear on wood cabinets. Soon you may decide that some changes or updates are needed. And sometimes the simplest remedies are the best—and the most budget-friendly, too. If your stained or painted kitchen cabinets are in need of a facelift, you can give them a fresh new appearance with only a minimal investment in tools and materials.” —Bob Vila

All you’ll need is a few common hand tools and a place to work that’s dust-free. A set of helping hands will be worthwhile because there’s a substantial amount of elbow grease involved. To get started, it’s best to spend a little time in looking at colors. If you plan to resell at any time in the future, stay far away from the bold and go with neutral. Once you have a color, along with new hinges and pulls, do the following:

  1. Gather your tools and materials. You’ll need drop cloths, a screwdriver or drill-driver, plastic bag, dust mask, eye protection, sandpaper, a vacuum, primer-sealer, and, a paint tray and roller or spray paint.
  2. Remove the doors and hardware. Using a drill-driver or screwdriver, remove the pulls from the doors and unfasten the hinges from the fixtures. Then, unfasten the hinges from the door and put all the hardware in a plastic bag.
  3. Clean the door and fixture surfaces. You’ll have to deep clean the surfaces of the doors and fixtures with one-part trisodium phosphate or TSP, and, four parts water. The goal is to get all the dust, dirt, and debris, off the surfaces.
  4. Roughly sand the surfaces. Put the doors on a drop cloth and place drop cloths over the countertops. Then, sand the doors and fixtures to rough the surfaces. You don’t need to remove all the paint and sand down to the wood, unless it’s going to show through the new color. Once sanded, vacuum the sand dust and wipe down the doors and fixtures, then, allow to dry.
  5. Apply a coat of primer-sealer. To get a professional, nicely finished look, and, to protect the wood, you’ll need to apply a coat of primer-sealer with a brush or roller. Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions and allow to dry.
  6. Paint the fixtures and doors. After the primer-sealer dries, you can then paint the fixtures and doors. This can be done with a spray or brush — don’t use a roller unless the doors and fixtures are completely flat.

Once the paint dries completely, you’ll be able to reattach the pulls and hinges to the doors. Do this carefully because you can easily scuff that fresh coat of paint and have to retouch it. You can then rehang the doors to finish.