Home Improvement

How to Go About Cabinet Refinishing

San Jose Cabinet Refinishing is a great option for homeowners and investors who want to update their kitchen without spending money on brand-new materials. However, it requires a serious time commitment and if not done correctly can be extremely messy.

Refinishing is also only possible if you’re happy with the style and finish of your existing cabinets. If you would like to change the style profile of your doors a refacing project is a better choice.


If you are in love with the style of your cabinets, but they are outdated, simply painting them can give them a fresh look. Repainting involves keeping all components of the existing cabinetry and changing the color without chemically stripping or extensive sanding. Most professional painters apply a coat of primer-sealer to the entire cabinet, which reduces the need for sanding and helps the new finish adhere well to the old paint. This step is optional for homeowners.

The first paint-prep step is usually filling holes, dents and dings with spackling or wood filler. This is especially important on older cabinets, which may have accumulated many tiny indentations over time. Once the spackling dries, it is best to wait 24 hours (or even several days) before you try to reattach the cabinet doors and drawers, to ensure the paint has had time to cure into an enamel-like finish.

There are a variety of applicator options for cabinet repainting, including spraying, rolling and brushing. Choosing the right one depends on how much of the cabinet surface is being painted, and your personal style of working. For example, a spray gun is great for large areas of flat-front doors, but a quality brush is better for detailed work like on routed panels and other architectural features.

While high-gloss enamel paint was once the preferred finish for kitchen cabinets, water-based finishes are now gaining in popularity because they are easy to clean and less toxic. Regardless of which type you choose, the final product should be durable and resistant to stains and water damage.

Before you decide on a specific color, experts recommend applying a sample coat of the color to a piece of poster board or an inconspicuous area on your cabinet door to test it out. This will help you to see how the color works in your space and how it will look with your backsplash and appliances, so you can be confident that you’re happy with the results before committing to a full application.

Reputable cabinet painting companies will carry liability and workman’s compensation insurance, as well as provide warranties on their workmanship. This is an excellent way to guarantee you are hiring a qualified and experienced professional.


Unlike paint, stain seeps into wood’s grain and enhances its natural beauty. It also helps hide dirt, fingerprints and minor wear, which can help your cabinets stay looking new for a longer time.

Stain tends to cost less than paint, though customized options can add up. It’s a good option if you’re remodeling a rental property or don’t want to spend a fortune on new cabinets.

To get the best results from your stain, it’s important to choose the right color and type of stain. It’s a good idea to purchase a sample or consult with a professional. They can help you select a finish that complements your home’s decor and highlights the unique characteristics of your cabinetry.

Another benefit of stain is that it’s easier to touch up than paint. Touch-up markers are available at most big box stores, and even if there isn’t an exact match, there’s likely to be a shade that closely resembles your cabinetry’s stain. This can save you a lot of time and money down the road.

Generally, you need to sand down your existing cabinets before applying a stain. This can be a messy and time-consuming process, but it’s necessary to remove the old finish and make the cabinets ready for the staining process. If you’re doing this yourself, be sure to take proper precautions by using drop cloths or plastic sheets to protect your floors and countertops from stains and scratches.

Keep in mind that stain won’t work on all materials, such as thermofoil or laminate doors. If your cabinets are made of Thermofoil or laminate, refinishing isn’t an option for you. If your cabinets are made of real wood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), then stain is a great option. MDF and wood are both porous, so they can absorb both paint and stain. However, it’s important to note that MDF and wood differ in durability, with MDF being more prone to scratching than wood. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to use a protective sealant over your stain. MDF can also warp if it comes into contact with water.


Cabinet glazing is a way to add a second color into your cabinet finish. It’s done by adding a darker glaze to the top of your base coat and then wiping it into the grooves and details on your cabinets. This accentuates those areas and gives your finished project a more lived-in look.

Before applying your glaze, make sure that the cabinets are clean and free of dirt and dust. You’ll want to use a degreasing cleaner and wipe down the surfaces. This will help to remove any grease that might have built up on the wooden surface inside your cabinets and prevent a musty odor from developing.

After the doors and drawers have been cleaned, you’ll need to allow them to dry. This can take a few days, so you’ll need to be patient. Once they’re completely dry, you can reattach the doors and drawers to their tracks. Remember to use the numbered labels that you used to mark them. This will ensure that you don’t get your pieces mixed up when it comes time to reattach the hardware.

Once the cabinets have been glazed and dried, you can start to reattach the hardware and finish up any other finishing touches. This is also a good time to apply a final coat of clear sealer to protect your work. This is especially important if you are going to hang the cabinets in a humid environment, like a bathroom.

Refinishing your cabinets is a great way to improve the aesthetics of your home without spending a fortune. However, you should always consider the longevity of your work and whether or not it makes sense to spend the money on a full cabinet replacement. If you’re looking to upgrade your cabinets with modern features like soft-close hinges or under-cabinet lighting, a complete cabinet refacing might be the best option for you. Contact a professional contractor to find out more about your options. They can offer you a quote for the cost of a cabinet refacing or replacement project that will fit into your budget and lifestyle.

Finishing Touches

As a final step, apply a varnish to protect your work and add an extra layer of depth to the finish. This will also help the cabinets to resist water damage. You can choose between oil-based and water-based varnishes; be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.

Cabinet refinishing is a great way to give your kitchen or bathroom a whole new look at a fraction of the cost and hassle of replacing them. By carefully selecting your paint color, stain color and gloss level, you can create a custom look that matches your existing home decor. This is a great option for homeowners who have already invested in modern upgrades such as soft-close hinges or under-cabinet lighting and don’t want to pay for a full replacement.

The biggest benefit of refinishing is the improved aesthetics. The fresh new coat of paint or stain will instantly make your cabinetry look brand-new, and may even increase the value of your home. The process is also much faster than replacing, so you’ll be back in your kitchen in less time.

Before you begin the painting process:

  1. Prep the cabinets by removing all doors and drawers, labeling them for position, and covering appliances with tarps or drop cloths secured with tape.
  2. Lightly sand the surface to prepare for paint, and be sure to use a higher grit sandpaper than you’d normally use on furniture to ensure smoothness and promote adhesion.
  3. Use quality paint and a good primer, as well as proper brushing techniques.

You should use thinner brushes for better control over short strokes and allow enough drying time between coats to avoid rushing the project.

Once the paint is fully dry, you can reattach the doors and drawers to their hardware. This should be a simple task as long as you numbered each piece and kept the hardware organized. You can also consider replacing the hardware completely to give your cabinets a high-end designer look.

It’s important to note that refinishing does not fix major structural damage or upgrade features such as soft-close hinges. It is also important to assess the longevity of your current cabinets compared to those you would like to replace them with. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of both options to decide which is right for you.