The kitchen, often deemed the heart of every home, is a space where memories are made and culinary delights crafted. Its aesthetic appeal hinges significantly on the condition of its cabinets. If your kitchen cabinets have seen better days, it’s time to consider a transformative solution – kitchen cabinet refinishing.

Ready for a kitchen upgrade? Discover the simplicity and power of refinishing your kitchen cabinet yourself. In this guide, we’ll explore the art of transforming your kitchen with simple yet powerful solutions.

What Is Cabinet Refinishing?

Cabinet refinishing is the perfect solution for revitalizing your kitchen cabinetry. It allows you to update your space without the expense of replacement, saving money and customizing both the appearance and kitchen layout effortlessly.

Signs You Should Refinish Your Kitchen Cabinets

Your kitchen cabinets are more than just storage; they’re a statement. Here are some signs that it might be the perfect time to embark on a journey of having your kitchen cabinets refinished, transforming them into a renewed focal point in your kitchen space.

Fading Colors: If your cabinet colors have faded, refinishing with a fresh coat can revive them, bringing vibrancy to your kitchen cabinetry. Consider this along with cabinet refacing for a cost-effective makeover of your entire kitchen.

Scratches and Dents: Daily wear can leave your current cabinets looking worn. Refinishing covers up those unsightly scratches and dents, giving a quick refresh to your kitchen cabinetry.

Outdated Design: If your cabinets are structurally sound but the design feels outdated, refinishing offers a cost-effective facelift, allowing you to update not only the color but also consider modernizing the entire look, including the addition of stylish cabinet hardware.

Cost-Effective Solution: Refinishing is a budget-friendly alternative to the hefty expense of replacing all your kitchen cabinets, making it a practical choice compared to full replacements, extensive cabinet refacing projects, or a complete kitchen remodel.

Essential Supplies for Refinishing Cabinets

A white kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops, featuring a dark cabinet.

Before diving into the refinishing process, gather the necessary supplies, especially if you’re focusing on refinishing kitchen cabinets for a successful transformation. Having the right materials ensures you achieve a smooth finish for a professional-looking result.

Materials Overview

  • Sandpaper
  • Primer
  • Paint or Varnish
  • Cleaning and Degreasing Agents

Tools Needed

  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint Tray
  • Screwdriver (for hardware removal)
  • Labeling Materials (for hardware organization)

Miscellaneous Supplies

  • Drop Cloths or Plastic Sheeting (for protecting surrounding areas)
  • Painter’s Tape (for precise edges)
  • Respirator Mask (for safety during sanding and refinishing)
  • Old Clothes and Gloves (for personal protection)

How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

Explore professional refinishing tips from HGTV’s guide, and give your kitchen cabinets a high-end designer look. Here’s a step-by-step guide to guide you through the transformative process and bring new life to your kitchen space.

  1. Protect the Area Before Starting: Cover countertops, floors, and appliances to prevent any accidental spills or splatters during the refinishing process, especially when you’re ensuring the integrity of the cabinet structure.
  2. Prepare the Surfaces Thoroughly: Clean and degrease cabinet surfaces. Nick from This Old House suggests that for tough grease, use TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water; the TSP actually emulsifies the grease and removes it much more efficiently than soap alone. 
  3. Clean Hardware: During the refinishing process, take the opportunity to clean or replace cabinet hardware like handles and knobs, especially if you’re working on antique cabinets. This small detail can enhance the overall look and authenticity of your cabinets.
  4. Strip the Cabinets: If your cabinets have a previous finish, a crucial step for a smooth application of the new finish is using a paint stripper. This ensures a flawless transformation for an impeccable paint job.
  5. Sand Kitchen Cabinets: Once stripped, utilize an orbital sander to thoroughly sand the cabinets, including the drawer fronts, cabinet boxes, and cabinet frames. This ensures a smooth surface for the new finish, guaranteeing a professional result in your refinishing project.
  6. Refinish in Your Chosen Varnish, Wax, or Paint: Apply the chosen finish evenly in a well-ventilated area, allowing sufficient drying time between coats for a durable and flawless outcome, whether you’re looking to maintain the original finish or create a new, polished look in your cabinet refinishing project.

Cabinet Refinishing Costs

Discover painted cabinet ideas to prep smart for a professional and cost-effective painting project

For a cabinet makeover, the average cost to refinish is $3,000, with a range of $1,800 to $5,000. It’s a budget-friendly alternative, bringing your dream kitchen or bathroom to life without the complexities and expenses of a full renovation.

Understanding the costs associated with refinishing your kitchen cabinets is essential for budget-savvy homeowners. Here’s a breakdown:

Size Matters: Larger kitchens may require additional materials and time, impacting overall costs, especially when considering the amount of space that needs a new coat of paint in your cabinet refinishing project.

Material Considerations: The type of finish you choose—varnish, wax, or paint—significantly influences costs in your cabinet refinishing project. Each coat finish option impacts both the aesthetic outcome and the cost of cabinet refacing.

DIY vs. Professional:  Professional use of high-quality painting tools guarantees a flawless finish for your kitchen cabinets, and while DIY may save on materials, it’s crucial to consider the potential impact on labor costs

Cost Comparison: Compare the expenses of kitchen cabinet refacing with the hefty price tag of a full cabinet replacement to discover budget-friendly ways of refreshing your kitchen.

Overall Savings: Refinishing offers a cost-effective solution, allowing for a stunning transformation on a modest budget without disrupting the current kitchen layout. It’s the perfect method to refresh your kitchen’s aesthetic

When to Call a Professional

Considering professional help for your cabinet refinishing project? Here are key instances where seeking an expert’s assistance is a wise choice:

Complexities in Refinishing: If your cabinets have intricate details or special finishes, professionals can navigate complexities for a seamless result.

Time Constraints: Lack of time is a common hurdle in DIY projects. Professionals ensure efficiency, saving you valuable time.

Desire for Flawless Finish: If you envision a flawless, expert finish, professionals bring a level of expertise and precision that DIY might not achieve.

Quality Assurance: Professionals guarantee quality work, giving you peace of mind and ensuring longevity in the beauty of your refinished cabinets.


In conclusion, kitchen cabinet refinishing is a cost-effective and transformative solution for reviving the heart of your home. It allows you to breathe new life into your kitchen without breaking the bank. Whether you choose to embark on a DIY journey or enlist the help of professionals, the result will be cabinets that not only look refreshed but also contribute to the overall appeal of your kitchen.For more detailed insights into veneer cabinet refinishing, explore our resources. Discover the secrets to maintaining the allure of veneer cabinets for years to come.