The kitchen is probably the most expensive room to renovate in every house because of its complexity in layouts and the variety of applications that come along. Refacing the kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them can save you a lot of money yet can definitely make a big impact with small effort. No more waiting, following is the step-by-step guideline on how to refinish your kitchen cabinets.

Believe me, looking at the kitchen cabinet after and before refinishing brings you the most satisfying feeling that you’ve ever had.

When to have your cabinets refaced?

1. They are not functioning properly

Cabinets store all of your gadgets, tools and cookware and help you to keep them better organized. They are like your wingman in the kitchen whose role can be underestimated until you have an unpleasant experience with it. Once you find your cabinet door making weird sounds, or they sort of stuck or bump into each other when opened, it’s definitely the time for refacing.

How to refinish kitchen cabinets

2. The look is outdated

Take an overall look at your kitchen, if you realize most of your applicants are up-to-date but your cabinets, which can be one of the reasons why your kitchen still looks old-fashioned. Or if you never had a cabinet makeover since the time you had your house, then it deserves your attention now!

3. You are on a budget

Refinishing kitchen cabinets usually costs about a third as much as replacing them. So if you desperately want to transform your kitchen with less money as you could, this is surely an affordable option.

How to refinish your kitchen cabinets with paint?

1. Start with a plan

Truth be told, refacing cabinets is a huge DIY project, and an advanced one. You absolutely never want to mess up a step halfway through or find yourself jumping back and forth between your ideas once you have already started. So, pin down what exactly you want to do, your desired outcomes (how do they look when you finish?), if possible, narrow down the area you need to work on – this helps you on further preparation steps.

refinish your kitchen cabinets with paint step 1

You may also want to include in your plan the complete process with all breaking-down steps. In order to do this, evaluate the current condition of your cabinets, compare it with your end goal and come up with your detailed to-do list.

Do also make sure to do some research on all the tools, chemicals or materials needed for your plan and get well-prepared before starting.

2. Protect yourself and the kitchen

Define your target cabinet area, take out all the objects stored in it then put them in separate places. Generally clean through the cabinet/cupboard surface.

Protect the kitchen

Use canvas drop cloths, builder’s paper or even cardboard – if you’d like to save money, to cover your floor and countertops. Not only does this step stop you from getting unwanted marks or stains on other areas of your kitchen but it also provides extra workspace.

Specifically for this project, you are definitely going to work with strong substances. Therefore, please do read carefully all the instructions provided beforehand and do wear gloves, eyes protection glasses and coverall if needed.
It is also a good suggestion to keep your chemicals and all the sharp tools out of children’s reach to avoid unwanted accidents during work time.

Now you are all good to go to the main parts of the process!

3. Pre-stripping

Start removing all of the doors and drawers, including each one’s hardware. Hardware is all the attached hinges, screws, door knobs or handles,… One simple yet genius step you definitely should take by now is to label/number or group all of the parts that have just been taken out. You are gonna thank us for this soon when you get to final reinstallment/reassembling.


Take a look at all of your hardware and decide if they need any retouching. Soaking in soapy water, applying polish, lightly scrubbing with a soft brush or simply replacing them completely are some of the options you can consider based on their current condition (appearance, function).

4. Strip

On to the hardest part of all – stripping. Stripping wood is an act of removing the covering or the outer layer (paint, vanish,…) of wooden surface or furniture by sanding or using solvent – also called stripper.

To know what specific stripping agent to use for your cabinet is surely tricky. Only after you figure out the kind of finish your wood has on then you will have a bit of a clue.


As there are so many possibilities of wood finish out there such as wax, shellac, lacquer, paint, polyurethane or penetrating oil and each requires specific care/removal, this is why we said you should do your own research at the beginning, or simply ask for consultancy from experts.

If you fancy doing it on your own, it is a good idea to test out on an unnoticeable corner to make sure the chemical works first then move on with the rest.

Follow closely the manufacturing instructions when applying agents on your cabinets. After letting them dry thoroughly, you can then move on to sand the surface and fix any scratches or holes on the wood if needed.

If you desire for refinishing kitchen cabinets without stripping, we will soon guide you in another post.

5. Paint application

Paint application

Give your cabinet a fresh coat of paint by your desired color. If you don’t know how to paint the kitchen cabinet, just take this step slowly and as detailed as possible. You don’t want to ruin the final touch, do you?

Use a brush, roller, or sprayer to apply paint

Use a roller to ensure smooth for the top coat

Allow all your fresh-looking cabinets to dry completely. You can also top them up with one last layer of penetrating oils for additional protection and lasting appearance. But if it is just nice-to-have for you, then simply skip this step.

6. Reinstalling

new kitchen

Now it’s time for all of your labels and numbers to come in handy. Put all of the parts back together and make sure to not miss any belonging hardware, especially the small ones.

Lastly, don’t forget to take a picture of the final look and appreciate yourself for putting such a huge effort in this project! You did it!

Enjoy your “new kitchen”!

There we had it! Without a doubt, refinishing kitchen cabinets is a tough task. There are countless things to work on, to learn, there sure are even risks and failures to come. But, once you saw your brand new-looking kitchen, all of the hard work has definitely paid off. Good luck!