Kitchen Refinishing - Updating Your Kitchen Cabinets

If your cabinet frames and your cabinet doors and drawer fronts are in good structural condition and you want to remodel your kitchen without spending too much money, you can add a dimension of beauty to your kitchen by refinishing your kitchen cabinets. Replacing cabinets are a very costly part of any remodeling project but sometimes that same look can be achieved through refinishing. If you are unclear on the remodeling terms being used here, refinishing is not the same as refacing. Refacing a kitchen cabinet means replacing all of the doors, drawers, molding, and spacers with new ones whereas refinishing means sanding down your cabinets, stripping the finish, and reapplying a new veneer or finish. Refinishing versus refacing will generally save the homeowner $5000 (or more) depending on type of fronts are placed, condition of the cabinets, etc.

When you hire a refinishing contractor, you are hiring a contractor to strip the finish from your existing kitchen cabinets and cabinet frames and re-apply a new veneer and new finish. This new finish will either act to restore the cabinets to their original beauty or restyle the cabinets to match any new design scheme the contractor has designed for your kitchen. Once your cabinets are stripped, they basically become a blank slate for your contractor to work with.

Refinishing a cabinet means following a series of steps and procedures. When you hire a contractor to do work on your cabinets, they will typically first present you with a sample of whatever finish you choose. This can be done two ways. First, the contractor can bring you a sample of stained or treated wood that will look similar to yours. Second, the contractor can actually remove a cabinet or a drawer, take it back to the workshop, work on it, and present it to you as a finished product. This aspect of the project is done initially to get your approval on the color, stain or finish. Any changes that need to be made are typically done in this phase.

After the refinishing contractor has your approval, they will schedule a date to begin work. This is important because it gives you time to prep your kitchen. Because the refinishing process involves your cabinet frames as well as the fronts and drawers, you will need to clean everything from inside of your cabinets and from your countertops. The sanding and refinishing process generates an abundance of dust so make sure when your refinishers begin, they tarp up the kitchen area well so the dust and debris doesn't permeate throughout your home.

Typically, the crew will come in your home, remove everything they need, and take it to their workshop. In the mean time, there will be a crew working at your home working on the cabinet frames so everything is ready onsite when the offsite work is done. Just a bit about the actual process itself so you understand refinishing, contractors will use a chemical stripping agent to remove the wood stain and any veneer. After that, the wood is sanded by machine for broad sand, and then sanded by hand to get the areas the machine cannot reach. After the stripping and sanding, a new stain is applied followed by a few coats of sealer and a few coats of lacquer. There are also finishes that can be achieved if the homeowner's design plan necessitates such as antique finishes or glazed finished which is also possible with a skilled refinished and the extra steps are done at this stage. If you opted for a painted finish, there are not as many later steps involved, however, the sanding is still the same and many times a primer coat need to be applied along with a sheen coat for protection.

The typical time to complete the refinishing project can be anywhere from 3 days to a week depending on how many cabinets you have, the wear, the finish you choose, and other deciding factors. After this process is done, the contractors will mount your hardware and everything else. We recommend purchasing new hardware versus using your old hardware.

Refinishing is a great way to restore your cabinets to their original beauty or to integrate your existing cabinets into your design scheme without purchasing new custom cabinets. When you are looking for a refinishing contractor, keep in mind that there are more options than just stain and paint such as techniques to get different looks like antiqued looks and aged looks. A good refinisher can restore your cabinets to make them more glorious than ever, while saving you money.