How to Make Cheap Cabinets Look Good

Don't settle for cheap-looking cabinets.
Don't settle for cheap-looking cabinets. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

The sooner you face your cheap cabinets, the sooner you’ll be able to start making them look good. Most homeowners want to save a buck here or there, and if you’ve decided to save by installing or keeping cheap cabinets, that doesn’t mean you have to live with them. With some very simple techniques, you can dress up your cheap cabinets and make them look good. Before you know it, your cheap cabinets will be something to be proud of.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Mild soap
  • Cloth
  • Chemical stripper
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood filler
  • Paintbrushes
  • Stain
  • Sealant

Create a solution of one quart warm water and 2 tbsp. mild soap.

Wipe down the cabinets with the cleaning solution, using a clean cloth. Often, just cleaning them will yield a substantial improvement.

Apply a chemical stripper to remove the finish. Follow the instructions carefully, because different strippers are designed for specific types of wood, with some types of wood needing different tools than others.

Use rough sandpaper to sand the cabinets. Once you have sanded them with rough sandpaper, go over them again with finer sandpaper. Do this a few more times until you’re sanding with very fine sandpaper.

Add some wood filler to areas that have been dented or gouged. Using a brush, stroke with the grain of the wood.

Go over the cabinets with fine sandpaper after the wood filler is completely dry. Make sure all surfaces are completely smooth.

Brush on a wood stain. Use an opaque color to hide any imperfections in the cabinet. Let it dry, and apply another coat. A third coat may be necessary.

Apply a sealant once the last layer of stain is dry to protect your cabinets.

Tips & Warnings

  • New hardware can add a great deal of class to your cabinets.

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