LESLIE: Mary in Wisconsin is looking for a way to jazz up her kitchen on a low budget. What can we do for you?
MARY: Well, I’ve kind of – I like my cupboards. They were built for the house, because we had our house built in ’64. But I really don’t want to tear them out. I want to leave them there but I’ve got to know how to clean most so they looked more sparkly or at least they looked better. And I’ve got a couple of bare spots that I have drawers that come out. And if you don’t shut one door right – you know what I mean? The other door comes out and it makes a gouge.
LESLIE: Well, no worries. But with drawers, when they start to sort of get misaligned, there’s a good chance with just over years of usage – the drawer front is just attached with a couple of screws through the drawer box itself. So it could be that as screws become loose and it’s started to shift around.
And that’s a really easy fix. Pull the drawer out, move your belongings out of the way and just take a screwdriver. Generally, it’s going to be a Phillips, although because it’s been since the 60s, it could be a crosshead. So just see what kind of screw is in there and see if tightening it sort of realigns it?
MARY: Oh, makes it – oh, without bumping into each other?
LESLIE: Exactly. Because that could be the problem. And the same goes with cabinet doors. If you ever have a door that one closes one way and then the other one seems a little wonky – the hinges that are traditionally used for cabinetry are called Euro hinges. And they have two separate screws on them that sort of accommodate the door going up and down and in and out? So if you just sort of start tightening and loosening and see how that realigns the drawers, that could help with the cabinet doors, as well. So you might just see that.
Now, as far as cleaning and refinishing, it could just be – are you in love with the cherry or are you open to painting?
MARY: Could they be painted over?
LESLIE: Yeah, of course they could be.
LESLIE: You would do – clean the surface well and give it a good sort of scuffing. And you could do that with a liquid sanding product. And depending on the doors – are they full overlay or do you see some of the cabinet box behind it?
MARY: Oh, no. They’re tight. You can’t see through them.
LESLIE: So you don’t see any of the cabinet box itself? So it’s just doors when you look at it?
MARY: Oh, yeah. Yeah, the doors with the little knobs.
LESLIE: Because what you could do is just take – it’ll paint easier if you take off each door. And when you do that, you want to make sure that you label each door to exactly where it goes back to. And keep the hinges either on the cabinet box or on the door; don’t completely disconnect everything. I generally leave the hinges on the box and then label it like “upper one, upper two,” so I know exactly where they go to.
MARY: Oh, I know what you mean. Yeah, OK.
LESLIE: Take them outside, put them on a flat surface, do some liquid sanding and then some really great, good-quality primer and then a latex, top-coat paint in whatever color you want and that’ll do the job. And generally, I would go with a gloss on a cabinet, just for wear and tear and cleanability.
TOM: And Mary, if you want the step-by-step on how to do that, we have a great article on how to paint kitchen cabinets, online at MoneyPit.com.
Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.