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Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing

Kitchen cabinet refinishing is the process of revamping your existing cabinets to give them a fresh, updated look without the need for a complete replacement. This method involves stripping the old finish, repairing any damage, and applying a new paint or stain to restore their appearance. Refinishing is a cost-effective alternative to replacing cabinets entirely, allowing homeowners to transform their kitchen’s aesthetic with significantly less expense and hassle.

When to Refinish Your Kitchen Cabinets

Refinishing is a viable option when your cabinets are structurally sound but have cosmetic issues such as fading, scratches, or outdated colors. Consider refinishing if:

  • The cabinet frames and doors are still in good condition.
  • You want to update the style or color of your kitchen.
  • Your budget doesn’t allow for a complete cabinet replacement.
  • You prefer a more sustainable option, reducing waste by reusing existing materials.

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Process 

1. Preparation

  • Remove Hardware: Take off all knobs, handles, and hinges.
  • Clean Cabinets: Use a mild detergent to remove grease and grime.
  • Sand the Surfaces: Lightly sand the cabinets to remove the existing finish and create a smooth surface for the new finish to adhere to.

2. Stripping

  • Apply Stripper: Use a chemical stripper to remove the old finish. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and removal.
  • Scrape-Off Finish: Carefully scrape off the old finish with a putty knife or scraper.
  • Clean Residue: Wipe down the surfaces to remove any remaining stripper residue.

3. Repairing

  • Fill Holes and Cracks: Use wood filler to repair any dents, scratches, or holes.
  • Sand Repairs: Once the filler is dry, sand the repaired areas until smooth.

4. Repainting or Restaining

  • Priming (for paint): Apply a primer to ensure the paint adheres properly.
  • Painting: Apply the first coat of paint using a brush or roller, ensuring even coverage. Let it dry completely before applying a second coat.
  • Staining: Apply the stain with a cloth or brush, following the wood grain. Wipe off excess stain and apply additional coats if a darker color is desired.
  • Top Coat: Apply a protective top coat such as polyurethane or varnish to seal the finish and protect against wear.

For more detailed steps on finishing, check out our blog on kitchen cabinet finishing.

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Process

Color and Style Tips

Selecting the right color or stain is crucial to achieving the desired look for your kitchen:

  • Light Colors: White, cream, or light gray can make a kitchen feel more open and airy.
  • Dark Colors: Navy, black, or deep green add sophistication and drama.
  • Natural Wood Stains: Enhancing the natural grain with stains like walnut, cherry, or oak can add warmth and classic appeal.
  • Two-Tone Cabinets: Combining two complementary colors can create a modern, stylish look.

Cost Comparison of Refinishing and Replacement of Kitchen Cabinets

Refinishing Costs:

Materials (paint, stain, primer, sandpaper): $200 – $600.
Labor (if hiring a professional): $1,000 – $4,000.

Replacement Costs:

New cabinets: $5,000 – $15,000+.
Installation: $2,000 – $5,000.

Refinishing typically costs between $1,200 and $4,600, significantly less than the $7,000 to $20,000+ for a total replacement.

DIY vs. Professional Service

DIY Refinishing:

Pros: Cost savings, personal satisfaction, control over the project.
Cons: Time-consuming, requires tools and skills, and the potential for mistakes.

Professional Refinishing:

Pros: Professional results, faster completion, no need for personal labor.
Cons: Higher cost, less personal control over the project.


Refinishing kitchen cabinets is an excellent way to refresh your kitchen’s look without the high cost and inconvenience of a complete replacement. By understanding when to refinish, following a detailed process, and choosing the right colors and finishes, you can achieve stunning results. Whether you decide to take on the project yourself or hire a professional, refinishing transforms your kitchen into a space that feels brand new.