Repainting Kitchen Cabinets

My kitchen cabinets are looking pretty tired, and I'd like to give them a low-cost face lift. What kinds of finish should I use?
nlvc 2-18-08

First, make sure your cabinets are eligible for DIY refinishing by examining their construction and material content. Solid wood and laminate are both good candidates for refinishing, but anything covered in veneer is not, unless you're willing to apply paint rather than stain. Whether painting or staining, choose an oil-based finish, which is far more durable and forgiving of everyday kitchen grime than latex finish.

If your cabinets meet refinishing requirements, here are the project steps you'll need to take:

1.  Working in a well-ventilated area, begin with a thorough cleaning, removing all dirt and grime from cabinets; allow surfaces to dry.

2.  Apply a paint/finish remover, and scrape away finish with a putty knife, followed by a wire brush. Continue this cycle until a clean wood surface is revealed.

3.  Sand cabinets with fine-grit sandpaper, and remove resulting dust and debris with a tack cloth. You may also consider using a liquid sanding agent, which can be very effective in application of fine woodworking details and other hard-to-sand areas (it also helps with the grime-removal step of refinishing).

4.  Apply the new finish according to the manufacturer's instructions (preceded by the appropriate primer if you're painting the cabinets), allowing surfaces to dry thoroughly between coats.

5.  When finish applications are complete, apply a protective top coat to shield cabinets from moisture, grease and surface oil.

Finally, accessorize your refreshed cabinets with new knobs and pulls─they're the bling that brings personality to a kitchen update!

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