Home ownership brings a lot of pride until you are forced to look at the same interior design year after year. A kitchen tends to be the hub of activity for most homes, and replacing cabinets is a guaranteed way to bring back some excitement. This type of project often carries a shockingly high price tag. An equally effective and less expensive method of updating the kitchen is to refinish the cabinetry. Before a beautiful new look can be applied, the old polyurethane finish has be removed.
Things You'll Need
- Masking tape
- 2 plastic drop cloths
- Face mask
- Paint brush
- Gel stripping agent
- Putty knife
- Steel wool
- Cotton cloth
- Sander and 220-grit sandpaper
Remove all doors, drawers, hinges, handles and knobs. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws, twisting in a counterclockwise direction. Use a marker and a small piece of masking tape to label each drawer and cabinet door with a designated symbol that indicates where they go when finished. Save all hardware and screws in a convenient location.
Place a drop cloth over the floor in a well-ventilated area you have picked to strip the polyurethane off the cabinets. Set all doors and drawers on the plastic in the order you wish to complete them.
Place a drop cloth over all counters directly beneath the cabinets you will be using the stripping agent on. Secure it in place using masking tape.
Stripping the Finish
Put on a face mask and protective gloves. Apply an even, thin layer of gel stripping agent to small areas of the finish on the cabinets using a paint brush. Wait a few minutes for the gel to begin working. The polyurethane finish will start to bubble up.
Hold the putty knife down toward the wood surface at a 45-degree angle. Begin carefully scraping the polyurethane and stripper from the wood. Scrape with the grain of the wood to avoid gouges.
Dip a steel wool pad and toothbrush in stripper to finish scrubbing away areas of polyurethane that seem to not want to budge. Allow the surface a few hours to dry.
Use a small belt or palm sander with 220-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and remove all leftover stripper. Wipe the surface with a damp cotton cloth to remove any remaining dust.
Tips & Warnings
- Remove all pets and small children from any area where you will be using a stripping agent. The fumes are very strong.
- Work in small sections to avoid the stripper evaporating before you are done. The stripper must still be liquid to work with.
- Wear a mask and gloves to protect your lungs and skin from the harsh chemicals.
- Keep the area well ventilated and avoid open flames.
- Check with your municipality regarding the disposal of the stripping agent.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
How to Finish Wood With Stain and a Polyurethane Finish
How to prepare wood for subsequent coats of stain and polyurethane, with user-friendly tips and suggestions.
How to Remove Bubbles From Polyurethane Finish
Brush out bubbles in a fresh polyurethane finish. When the finish hardens, you have to sand them out and apply a new...
How to Remove Brush Marks From a Polyurethane Finish
Brush marks often show up on pieces of furniture treated with polyurethane finish, usually despite the best efforts of the craftsman. However,...
How to Remove Polyurethane
Upcycling an old item -- such as wood -- may first require removing the polyurethane coating. This coating, or finish, is applied...
How to Remove Old Paint & Polyurethane From Wood
The first step in any remodeling project is removing old paint and polyurethane from any wooden surfaces you want to refinish. With...
How to Apply Polyurethane to Cabinets
A polyurethane finish will help increase the durability of your cabinets. This material is ideal for do-it-yourself projects. Polyurethane is fairly simple,...
How to Remove Polyurethane Varnish
Polyurethane is an all-purpose finish that is applied to furniture and other household objects. If you don’t like the shiny, plastic-like finish...
How to Remove Colored Wood Stain From Kitchen Cabinets
There are a number of different approaches that may be taken to remove color stain from kitchen cabinets. Sanding is not a...
How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Without Sanding or Stripping
If you want to refinish your kitchen cabinets with a stain and clear finish, you have to strip them first, but you...
How to Apply Polyurethane to Kitchen Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets are exposed to heat and humidity on a daily basis, which can cause warping or mold and mildew buildup. A...
How to Remove Varnish From Kitchen Cabinets
When you are refinishing your kitchen cabinets, removing old varnish is essential to getting a professional finish. According to Scott Gibson in...
What to Use to Clean a Polyurethane Finish on Cabinets
Polyurethane is a very tough, durable varnish that coats a piece of wood with a plastic-like coating. Polyurethane is impenetrable by many...