How to Lighten Cherry Wood Kitchen Cabinets. Cherry wood darkens with exposure to light, so the kitchen cabinets that you loved when you installed them, may end up being too dark for your taste after a few years. Replacing the cabinets is not only expensive, but a huge messy project, so consider lightening your cherry wood kitchen cabinets instead.
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Clean your cabinets thoroughly. Often times, grease and dirt residue, especially in the kitchen, make cabinets appear darker. A good scrubbing may be all you need to lighten your cherry wood cabinets.
Bleach your cabinets using "A/B" bleaches sold in most paint and hardware stores. The process involves applying sodium hydroxide (A) followed by hydrogen peroxide (B). Apply B quickly, as the sodium hydroxide can actually darken the cabinets if left on too long. Read the directions on the package and test it out before putting it on your cabinets.
Strip off the finish on your cabinets. Chances are your cabinets are not stained if they are actually made out of cherry. But, some oil based finishes can darken the wood. Purchase a stripping solution at your local paint or hardware store. Once the finish is off, coat with a clear finish to seal and protect the cabinets.
Paint your cabinets to lighten them up. Some people would gasp at the idea of painting beautiful cherry wood cabinets, but if you are truly unhappy with them and don't want to do the work to strip them, paint over them.
Consider painting the kitchen a lighter color, adding more lights or adding a skylight or window. Often, a lighter shade of paint in the kitchen will change the look of the room and brighten it enough to offset the dark cherry cabinets. You may find that just lightening the room does the trick without actually touching the cabinets.