Bathroom & Kitchen Guide

Your complete guide to remodeling, design and new products.


A Step By Step Guide To Refacing Kitchen Cabinets


Before and after image

Many people have discovered that refacing their kitchen cabinets is an inexpensive way to obtain kitchen cabinets that look brand new. By doing the project yourself, you can reduce labor costs whilst creating kitchen cabinets that look the way that you would like them to be. Like any D-I-Y project, there are a number of steps that must be followed when refacing kitchen cabinets. Follow this guide and it will make it seem like a breeze and help you to complete the project in a timely manner.


What you will need:

  • Hardware
  • Cleaning Cloths or Sponges
  • Cleaning Solution
  • Finishing Solution
  • Paint-Stain-Self Adhesive Coverings
  • Sand Paper
  • Stripping Solution
  • Wood Putty


Step 1 – Cleaning the cabinets
It is important that the kitchen cabinets are cleaned thoroughly before the project is started. Ensure all dirt, grease, or foreign matter is removed from the surface of the cabinets. The cabinets should be cleaned using a mild cleaning solution and a non abrasive cleaning cloth or sponge so the surface is not scratched. After the cabinets and doors have been cleaned with the cleaning solution, the residue of the cleaning agent should be rinsed off with clear water and the cabinets should be allowed to dry completely before proceeding to step 2.

paint stripperStep 2 – Stripping the finish from the cabinets
Stripping the existing finish from the cabinets can be accomplished quickly and easily by using a commercial stripper. First, you will need to determine which type of finish is present on the surface of the cabinet, which will generally be wax, paint, vinyl, polyurethane, or shellac. The type of stripping agent that will be used on the cabinets will depend on the type of finish that is present on the cabinets, as each type of finish will require a different formulation of stripper.

If you are having a difficult time determining what type of finish has been used on the cabinets, then you may want to consider taking a door from the cabinet to your local home hardware store so that professionals can help determine what the finish is and assist you in choosing the right stripping solution for the job. Stripping agents that come in a gel or paste form can be much easier to use than liquid stripping agents.This is due to the control you have when applying the gel or paste to the desired surface.

Step 3 – Preparing the cabinets for refinishing
Before refinishing the cabinets, all nicks, scratches, gouges, and holes will need to be filled in with wood putty and sanded flat to create a smooth surface for the face of the cabinets and the doors, if new doors have not been purchased as a replacement. When you are sanding your cabinets use a 'low grit' sandpaper. It may seem like the slower option but this will give you a better finish and prevent scratching the wood. Always sand with the grain not across. After the areas have been sanded flat, the cabinets should be rinsed with water to remove any dust from the sanding or wiped with a damp lint-free cloth. Allow the surfaces to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Step 4 – Refinishing the cabinets
The steps for refinishing the cabinets will depend on the type of refinishing agent you have chosen for the cabinets. Some of the most common refinishing agents used are paint, wood stains, or self adhesive veneers that resemble different types of natural wood. The instructions for how to apply the refinishing agent correctly should be supplied with the product you purchased. The product should also recommend any other finishing agents you would need to achieve the desired results. it is advisable to follow all product use instructions as stated to help you have professionally looking surfaces.

Step 5 – Attaching new hardware
Replacing old, outdated cabinet hardware with a new style is a great way to update the look of the kitchen cabinets without spending a lot of money to replace the entire cabinets and kitchen. Typically, all of the items that are needed to attach the new hardware are included in the packaging of the hardware. Instructions for attaching the hardware should be included along with easy to follow diagrams. It is very important to follow the provided instructions for installing the hardware this will help avoid damage to your newly refinished cabinets and doors.

Once the handles and pulls have been attached to the kitchen cabinets and doors, the refacing project is complete. The entire project can be completed within the space of a single day if the homeowner is truly dedicated to getting the job done. The new look of the cabinets has the power to transform the look of the entire kitchen and create an modern look that won't be the cost a whole new kitchen.

Building hardware suppliers

Viewpoint (UK)
Building Supplies R Us (UK)
PC Building Supplies Ltd (UK)
Redbox Hardware (AUS)
Mitre 10 (AUS)
Stovall Building Supplies (US)
Ace (US)

Picture courtesy of A Cut Above Cabinetry

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