The Important Cabinet Refinishing Do’s and Dont’s You Won’t Want to Mess Up


Refinishing your cabinets is a relatively easy and quick project you can do yourself to bring a bit of freshness to your bathroom or kitchen. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about the steps and which ones you can or can not skip. Cutting corners might sound nice, but in the end, you’ll end up with the result that’s likely not going to meet expectations. Usually, those details will save you time if you skip them, but in the long run, you’ll be less satisfied with the completed project. So today, we’ll be going over the Do’s and Dont’s of refinishing your cabinets. 

Do Take All the Doors off While Painting

This is a tempting one. The idea that you could leave all the doors in place and paint around the hinges might sound like a huge time saver. It’s also appealing because you then don’t have to find a place to lay out all your cabinet doors, and depending on the project, that could end up being a lot of doors. So while we understand the appeal, we urge you to resist. Not only will it make the painting process harder than it needs to be, but you’ll also not get all the corners as nicely as you could have you taken the doors off. It’s even more of a headache to try and paint around everything than to simply take the time necessary to remove them. It might seem like a big chore at first, but you’ll be happy you did it in the end. 


Don’t Skip on Cleaning the Cabinets

Many cabinet refinishing blogs out there will tell you to skip the cleaning step since you’ll be sanding the doors before you paint them. The idea is that any dirt or grime that has accumulated on the doors will be scrubbed off as you sand them. This might be true for some of the dirt, but not for all. In our kitchens, microscopic drops of grease and oil fly around and land on our cabinets. These specks of dirt seep into the cabinet and sometimes won’t come off even with sanding. If they are left there, and you paint over them, you risk them tarnishing the paint over time, and you’ll wonder where all these specks are coming from. To avoid this, take the time to scrub down the cabinet doors and the frames to ensure you have a clean and paint-ready surface. 

Do Sand the Cabinets Beforehand 

Sanding is another step many tutorials suggest you can skip. There are now paint products that claim they don’t require you to sand your piece before using it. While these might work to some extent, the cabinets in our kitchens and bathrooms receive a lot of wear and tear. This abuse will wear off the paint over time, and it will happen even faster if the sanding process is skipped. You don’t have to pull an arm muscle and sand away at your cabinets, but a light sanding with some fine sandpaper is enough to rough up the surface to help the paint stick to the cabinet as best it can. 

Don’t Use All-in-One Paint and Primer Products

The idea of painting your cabinet with three layers of paint and a layer of primer sounds daunting. It’s a long process that will feel mind-numbing by the end of the week. Because of this, you might be tempted to reach for one of those all-in-one paint and primer products advertised at the hardware or paint store. While these certainly have their place in the world, we don’t think that refinishing your cabinets is the time to use them. It might cut down on your painting time and save you a layer of paint, but in the end, those products do not hold up as well over time. To achieve that professional look we know you’re looking for, bite the bullet, start with a primer, and then move on to your paint. 

Do Remove the Hardware

Similar to leaving the cabinet doors on the frames, avoiding removing the hardware will simply make things harder for you in the end. We know it sounds tedious to sit with your screwdriver and remove every knob and handle and hinge from your doors, but having to paint around those for every layer of paint will be even more annoying. With the hardware removed, you can paint more smoothly without worrying that you’ll get paint on your hardware that you’ll then have to spend time cleaning off. 

We know that you just want to get to the end result where you have a stunning set of cabinets that look brand new. It’s a fun project that will transform your kitchen, but cutting corners isn’t a good idea for your long-term aesthetics. It’s likely to end with less professional-looking results and more work for you later down the road.

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