Published April 13, 2018, Updated February 7, 2021
Updating your kitchen cabinets is a quick and easy way to breathe new life into your cooking space. However, spending the money on new cabinetry might not be necessary. If your current cabinets are outdated but are still in good condition, you can give them a new lease on life with a few key materials and a bit of elbow grease. Here’s how:
1. Label Every Door and Drawer
Before you start anything, draw out your kitchen layout and label each and every door and drawer before you remove them. This might seem unnecessary, but I promise you will thank me when it’s time to replace them, as it can get quite confusing and very time consuming to remember the right place for each piece. Trust me.
2. Remove Doors and Drawers
Carefully remove each door and drawer to ensure you don’t damage them. You will also have to remove the hinges and hardware. It’s always best to install these back in the same place they came from, so I recommend numbering them. Make sure the screws and any other loose pieces are stored in a secure container.
3. Give Everything a Good Clean
Once everything is labelled and removed, grab a sponge (and dry cloth) and give the parts a rigorous wipe down. Make sure any grease or unwanted marks are removed.
4. Fill in the Gaps
If there are any holes where there shouldn’t be, or you want to cover up the grain of the wood, then apply a filler to smooth out the surfaces. This will ensure the refinished cabinets look like new when you’re done.
5. Sand Down the Cabinets
Once the filler has dried, sand down the doors and built-ins to get rid of any unwanted debris and to give your cabinets a high-quality finished look. This will help once you get to the painting stage, as any raised parts will be difficult to cover up later on.
6. Wipe it Down
Sanding always leaves a nice layer of dust, so wipe it away before you do anything else. Like I said, the better you clean the surfaces, the better the finished product.
7. Prime the Surfaces
It’s imperative that you use a decent primer to prepare the surfaces before painting. You can’t leave any blemishes on kitchen cabinetry because it will stand out like sore thumb. Do a good job here – you’ll be thankful once you’re done.
More kitchen inspiration: These Drool-Worthy Kitchens Make a Case for Colourful Cabinets.
8. Paint Your First Coat
Now it’s time to paint. Make sure the primer has dried and the doors are drawers are clean. You’ll probably need a few coats to make this look professional, so don’t try to complete the job in one coat. Take your time to cover every area and ensure the coat is even.
9. Sand Between Coats
Let each coat dry completely, and then give the doors and drawers a light sanding to again remove any raised parts or blemishes. This will mean that you’ll need to clean the surfaces after each sanding. Remember: do this well and you will have saved yourself thousands of dollars in restoring versus replacing. It’ll be worth putting the time in here.
10. Replace Doors and Install Hardware
Once you’re happy with your paint job, it’s time consult your layout drawing and install the new-and-improved doors and drawers, along with their hinges and hardware. I highly recommend getting new hardware, because if you have already gone to this trouble, new hardware can really alter the overall aesthetic of a kitchen. Take your time to re-attach each cabinetry piece carefully – you don’t want to chip anything at this point.
Refinishing your kitchen cabinetry is very cost-effective process and can transform your cooking space at very little cost. Remember to take your time with a job like this, and be sure not to cut corners, as it could turn a cheap job into an expensive one.
Main kitchen photo and hardware photo courtesy of HGTV Canada; Bryan Baeumler photo courtesy of Jarrett Ford Photography; painted cabinetry photo courtesy of Getty Images.