Step-by-Step Guide to Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets- From Prep to Final Finish

Updating your kitchen cabinets can be an expensive endeavor. Instead of replacing your cabinets, refinishing them can be a more affordable and environmentally friendly alternative. Refinishing your cabinets is also an opportunity to transform your kitchen’s look without disrupting your daily routine. In Arizona, kitchen cabinet refinishing Arizona is a popular DIY project due to the state’s warm weather and the number of homes with cabinets that need a rejuvenation.

This guide will walk you through the process of refinishing your kitchen cabinets while also giving specific tips and tricks to follow for success.

Collect your supplies

Before starting your refinishing project, gather all the necessary materials. You will need sandpaper, paintbrushes, a paint roller, a drill or screwdriver, wood filler, wood stain, primer, and paint. Make sure you have a drop cloth or old bedsheet to protect your flooring and don’t forget to wear safety gear including gloves, goggles, and a dust mask.

Remove the cabinet doors and hardware

Take off all of your cabinet doors and remove any hardware attached to them. The hardware should be placed somewhere safe and labelled for easy reinstallation. Use a drill or screwdriver to remove the hinges of the cabinet doors.

Clean the cabinets

After removing the doors and hardware, the cabinets need cleaning. Start by mixing one part white vinegar with one part water and use a soft rag or sponge to wipe down the cabinets. This will help remove any debris or grease accumulated on the surface over time. Opting for TSP (trisodium phosphate) over vinegar and water is an even more effective method of cleaning your kitchen cabinets.

Sand the cabinets

Once the cabinets have dried, use sandpaper to remove any old stains, paint, or sealant. This process will help prepare the surface for paint or staining. Use coarse-grit sandpaper (between 80 and 120) to get rid of existing finishes and scratches. Follow up with finer-grit sandpaper (between 150 and 220) to create a smooth finish. Don’t forget to sand in-between coats of paint as well to help with adhesion.

Fill in cracks, holes, and scratches

The sanding process can reveal cracks, holes, or scratches that need to be addressed before painting. Use a wood filler to fill in any imperfections in the cabinet surfaces. Apply the wood filler with a putty knife and make sure it’s smooth and flush with the surrounding surface. Allow the filler to dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Apply primer

Now that everything is clean and smooth, apply a primer to the cabinets. Primer is important because it helps the new paint adhere better and it blocks any stains from showing through the new paint. A good quality primer will also provide better coverage and durability to the final coat. Make sure you choose a primer that is compatible with the type of paint you plan to use and use a paintbrush or roller to apply.

Apply the final coat

Once the primer has dried, it’s time to apply the final coat. Traditionally, people use oil-based paint for kitchen cabinets, but the trend is shifting to water-based options. Choose an enamel-based paint, as it’s durable and washable. Use a paintbrush or roller to apply the paint – it is recommended to do this in thin, even coats. Let each coat dry between applications.

Reinstall the cabinet doors and hardware

Once the final coat of paint has dried, it’s time to reinstall the cabinet doors and hardware. Use a drill or screwdriver to reattach the hinges and handles or knobs. Take your time when installing the doors to make sure they line up evenly and meet correctly.

Apply the finishing touches

Your kitchen cabinets are now mobile and ready for use. Apply the finishing touches that will add character to your space. Consider adding new knobs or handles, or lining the shelves and drawers with new lining paper. Organize your storage space to optimize the functionality of your kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Arizona can turn an old, outdated space into a newer, improved one. This project is a perfect way to give your kitchen an updated look and it provides a cost-effective solution, is eco-friendly, and does not require much downtime. Refinishing cabinets is also an opportunity to get creative in how you want to transform your kitchen space. From trendy and modern to classic and rustic, there’s a style for every preference.


Using this step-by-step guide to refinishing your kitchen cabinets can be a rewarding and worthwhile project for any homeowner. Just follow all instructions carefully and don’t shortcut any steps, otherwise, the refinished job might just end up being a ruined mess. With a little bit of patience and dedication, your kitchen cabinets will look as good as new in no time.
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