DIY: Kitchen Cabinet Sandblasting to Paint

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Old kitchen cabinets are a dreaded sight for homeowners, not to mention an instant turn-off to potential homeowners. Moreover, who really wants the pricey overhead of having to pay a professional to come in and resurface or completely replace your kitchen cabinets? A cheaper alternative is to sandblast and repaint them yourself.

Step 1: Sandblasting

  • Sandblasting is an effective way to remove old grease, paint and stain. Most home improvement stores rent small air compressors or sandblasting equipment. All you will need is a sandblaster with a cubic feet per minute rating of 5 or higher and a 100-psi blasting tip, and blasting media, which is available at your local home improvement store. Let your store associate know you are blasting kitchen cabinets, since different items require different types of blasting media. You will also need tarp for protecting nearby surfaces, protective gloves and clothing, dust masks, tape and a small bucket to hold the blasting media.
    When blasting your kitchen cabinets, follow the blaster's manufacturing labels precisely, keeping the nozzle at least 5 inches away from the cabinet faces. Use long smooth strokes without hovering over a section for too long, since you risk damaging the cabinets by creating dips and low spots. After you have blasted every surface, move the cabinets to the next phase of the project and begin cleaning up the blasting area. Ask the home improvement store about disposal of the used sandblasting grit, since some of the materials in the composite may be hazardous to the environment.

Step 2: Surface Preparation

  • To prepare the cabinets for a beautiful finishing coat, first inspect the cabinets to determine the amount of damage, if any, caused by the sandblaster. Fill any dips or low spots with wood filler. If you are staining the kitchen cabinets, use filler that is stainable to avoid discolored spots across the cabinet's surface. Allow the filler to cure completely before continuing. Go over the cabinets with a fine-grit sandpaper to create a smooth surface. For painted cabinets, use a spray gun or high quality brush to apply a coat of interior kitchen primer to the kitchen cabinets. Be sure to use the appropriate based primer for the particular based type of topcoat you intend to use, i.e., oil on oil, latex on latex. Allow the coats of primer to cure completely before applying additional coats.

Step 3a: Staining

  • Staining can be trickier than painting but provides a great durable finish, resistant to chipping and peeling. Following the direction of the grain, lightly sand the cabinets, and then apply a wood conditioner to create a good bonding surface and let it dry. Next, using clean dry cloths, apply stain in circular motions, rubbing the stain into the wood. Sand again between stain coats and apply a final coat in the direction of the grain. Allow the cabinets to dry and coat them with a protective enamel coat to resist stains from kitchen use. Remember to use an oil-based polyurethane if you used an oil-based stain and likewise for latex.

Step 3b: Painting

  • Painting is the easiest and most forgiving method to refinish kitchen cabinets. Use a high quality brush or sprayer to apply paint. Wipe off excess paint to avoid losing fibers in the paint layers on the cabinets. Allow each coat to dry before adding more coats. While high gloss is easy to clean, avoid using it on large cabinet door faces because it will create an unsightly glare and enhance any defects in the cabinetry. Instead, use an eggshell finish and follow up with a protective enamel top coat to prevent chipping and staining.

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