How to Strip & Refinish Kitchen Cabinets


Kitchen cabinets can make or break the appearance of your kitchen. Old, worn down cabinets with chipping paint or veneer can give a well designed, modern kitchen a dated look. Stripping old finishing from your cabinets and refinishing them with stain or paint can bring life back into your kitchen. Stripping and refinishing your cabinets is inexpensive and is a good solution if you want to change their color.

Things You'll Need

  • Paintbrushes and applicators
  • 3-inch putty knife or scrapper
  • Wood glue
  • Steel wool
  • Screwdriver
  • Small fine-bristled wire brush
  • Sandpaper, different grits
  • Finishing or random-orbit sander
  • Paint stripper
  • Solvent
  • Varnish
  • Clean containers for solvents, stains and finishes
  • Stain
  • Filler and burlap
  • Tack cloth
  • Mineral spirits
  • Shop vacuum
  • Remove the cabinet doors, hinges and knobs with a screw driver.

  • Prepare your kitchen cabinets. Carefully slide the putty knife under loose veneer. Squeeze a little glue underneath it to secure it back to the cabinet. Place wax paper over the area and clamp it down until the glue is dry.

  • Use a paintbrush to apply stripper to the cabinets. Let the stripper sit on the cabinets until the paint begins to bubble. Gently, scrape off all peeling paint with your putty knife.

  • Remove any remaining paint in recessed areas with steel wool.

  • Apply another layer of stripper on the cabinets and repeat steps two and three.

  • Clean residue from the stripper with mineral spirits or another solvent.

  • Use sandpaper with a fine grit to lightly sand the cabinet without sanding too much of the veneer surface. Vacuum away particles from the cabinets and wipe them with a tack cloth.

  • Follow the instructions on your filler to thin it out and/or add colored pigments. Rub filler onto the cabinets with a piece of burlap in a circular motion and allow it to dry for one day.

  • Use a paintbrush to apply stain to the cabinets and doors. Make brush strokes in the direction of the wood grain. Allow the stain to dry according to the instructions. Use a cloth to wipe away excess stain and allow it to dry completely.

  • Reattach the cabinet doors, hinges and knobs with a screwdriver.

  • Finish the cabinets by adding varnish. Apply the varnish with a paintbrush in the direction of the wood grain. Allow it to dry.

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  • Photo Credit Modern kitchen image by MAXFX from
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