If you’ve had your cabinets for any length of time, they can begin to look worn down. If you’re not ready to replace them, you can give them a quick facelift with a combination of coating and stain. Some will opt to strip the cabinet and sand it down while others will opt to continue as sated below.

Start with the bare essentials. Detach all the doors, remove the shelves, and take off all the knobs, handles and hinges. If you’ve been thinking of getting some new hardware, now would be an excellent time to go shopping.

Once you have everything prepped and ready, visit your local hardware store and purchase some mineral spirits. This will help clean off all the dirt, grime and grease that has accumulated from cooking and daily use. This is especially necessary for those that were closer to the stove and oven and they may need more than one pass to do the job right.

To start, dampen a soft cloth with the mineral spirits and rub it along the surface two or three times. As you go, turn the the cloth so that you’re not rubbing the dirt you’ve just collected back on to the cabinet itself. Afterwards, some light sanding with a find 220-grit paper will help to really bring the life back into wood.

A few tips about sanding, remember to go in the direction of the wood, pressing the paper down evenly with your fingers in long, smooth strokes. This should help to avoid scratches and will make the job easier to complete.

Once you get to the moldings and trim of the cabinet, press lightly with just one finger so the paper can really fall into each curve. The sanding is done to give make the existing finish slightly rough so that it has something to grip with the new finish that you’re going to apply.

When you’re done sanding, remove any dust that is still on the surface by wiping it with a clean cloth. If there are spots where the color was removed, a touch up pen with wood stain will help to mask the area. Find the pen that matches the closest and then cover the bare area, wiping the excess of with a cloth and blending the edges.

Now it’s time to apply the finishing material. You want to find one that is a combination of stain and polyurethane. Be aware that it may have settled and separated in the can so always stir thoroughly to make sure it’s evenly mixed before applying. Don’t shake the can though as this might cause air bubbles to form that will end up as pinholes in the finish once it’s dry. You’ll know you’ve mixed it well when the stirring stick comes out clean without any globs or masses of finish on the end.

Take your brush and load it with finish and begin coating the details of each panel. Once that’s done you can focus on coating the flat surfaces. Since this is both a color and a cop coat, try to put a smooth, even coating on the cabinet without over brushing. If you want more color, apply a second coat once the first has dried instead of putting too much on at once. Be sure the brush you’re using is good quality and has fine bristles that are firmly attached. You don’t want to be having to pick bristles out of an otherwise perfect finish.

End with long, parallel strokes in one direction and let dry. You can now reinstall everything and enjoy the new look of your cabinets.

If instead you find it’s time to have new cabinets built, call our office in Los Altos, California for a consultation on our custom kitchen cabinets. We’d love to hear from you.

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