How to Cheaply Redo Kitchen Cabinets


Your kitchen cabinets are an olive green that you can't stand, but replacing them costs too much money. Redoing cabinets in a small kitchen can run into the thousands of dollars, even when done with inexpensive cabinets. If you are looking for a way to give your kitchen a much needed makeover, there are options to easily and inexpensively give existing wooden cabinets a new look on a budget.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver (flathead or Phillips)
  • Household cabinet cleaner
  • Nonshrinking putty
  • Putty knife
  • 80 grit sandpaper
  • 120 grit sandpaper
  • Dust mask
  • Painter's tape
  • Drop cloths
  • Paint primer
  • Oil or latex paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Small paint roller
  • Electric drill
  • New door pulls or knobs

Preparing the Cabinets

  • Use the screwdriver to remove all door pulls and knobs from the cabinet drawers and doors.

  • Remove the doors from the cabinets and take the hinges off. You will want to mark which doors and hinges go with each cabinet.

  • Remove the drawer fronts from the drawers if possible. Set aside the drawers, keeping track of which drawer fronts belong with which drawer.

  • Use a household cleaner to wash down all of your cabinetry. When finished, rinse with clean water and allow to dry.

  • Wear your dust mask and use the 80 grit sandpaper to evenly sand the cabinet frames, door and drawer fronts. The glossy surface needs to be dulled to allow new paint to stick.

  • Use the putty knife to apply non-shrinking putty to any knicks or dings in the cabinetry. If you are replacing hardware and the holes will need to be redrilled, fill the existing holes as well.

  • Allow the putty to dry according to the package instructions.

  • Use the 120 grit sand paper to sand the putty smooth.

Painting the Cabinets

  • Apply painter's tape to any surfaces that the cabinet frames touch; ceiling, soffet, walls, windows, etc. This will create a buffer to prevent paint from getting onto other surfaces.

  • Lay drop cloths on the counters and floors. Use an extra cloth to lay out the doors and drawers.

  • Apply primer to the cabinet frames with a paintbrush.

  • Use the small roller to prime the sides of cabinets, bottoms, doors and drawers. Use the paintbrush for any areas that cannot be covered with the roller.

  • Allow the primer to dry. Then prime the reverse side of the doors and drawers. If you were unable to separate your drawer fronts from the drawers, use the paintbrush to carefully paint the back side.

  • Repeat steps three through five with the selected paint color. Allow paint to dry according to manufacturer's instructions.

Reassemble the Cabinets

  • If you plan to use the same hardware, skip to step three. Mark where holes need to be drilled for handles and knobs.

  • Use the electric drill to pre-drill holes for the hardware.

  • Use the screwdriver to attach handles and knobs to the doors and drawer fronts.

  • Return hinges to the doors.

  • Reattach the doors to the cabinet frames.

  • If you separated the drawer fronts from the drawers, reattach them. Put the drawers back onto the drawer glides.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your kitchen cabinets are not solid wood, this process will not work. Removing the veneer from fiberboard will not produce good results. Make sure you know what type of cabinets are in your kitchen before refinishing.

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  • Photo Credit kitchen image by Rich Johnson from
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