Refinish Kitchen Cabinets

Do you hate your kitchen? You don’t have to live with a dull or dingy kitchen anymore!

Fall in love with your kitchen with some paint and a little elbow grease by refinishing those cabinets. Most people wait years to make this change and then wonder why they waited so long. While it is best to leave this project to the professionals, it is a project the novice do-it-yourselfer can tackle over a long weekend.

Painted Finishes

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Some of the most popular colors for painted cabinets today are gray, black, colonial blue, butter yellow and all shades of white. Be cautious of going too dark in a small kitchen as it may feel like a cave once complete. If you love the darker colors, try painting the upper cabinets a few shades  lighter than the shade you have chosen for the bottom cabinets. This keeps the room from closing in around you and has recently gained popularity among designers.

Designer Tip – If you have light countertops, go with darker cabinets. If you have dark countertops, go with lighter cabinets. If your counters are somewhere in between, go with a color that takes your kitchen from drab to fab!

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Painted cabinets are fabulous in the bathroom too! Try this nautical blue or a bright red if you are looking to punch up the bathroom. Have a little fun, it’s only paint!


For a high-end look, use a satin finish paint instead of high gloss. This muted sheen will add a richer feel to any paint color.

The Process: 

  • Remove hardware and clean. You may spray paint with metal paint to change the finish.
  • Wash lightly soiled cabinets with soap and water or use a deglosser to prep for the next step.
  • Prime with a primer made for this process. Search out advice from your local paint store for a product that can be applied without sanding the cabinet doors and bases first. Painter Tip – Have the primer tinted to match your paint for quicker coverage of your finish coat.
  • Paint the base of the cabinets first, let dry overnight and apply 1 more coat.
  • Paint the doors on a flat surface, such as floor, table or saw horses. This stops excess paint from running down the doors if you get a little heavy handed. Let dry overnight and apply at least 1 more coat.
  • Attach the hardware and rehang the newly painted doors – Done!

 Gel Stain Finish

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Not a fan of paint? Consider a Gel Stain instead. We prefer the ease of gel stain to traditional stain. Traditional stains require the removal of all prior stain and polyurethane before the new stain color can be applied. Gel stain can be applied over lightly sanded pre-stained woods. You must go at least one shade darker than the current stain color for the best result and apply 2 coats. We prefer oil-based gel stain, so be sure to apply an oil-based polyurethane to protect your new stained cabinets for many years to come.

 Need help? To find a professional, search Zillow Pros for a paint professional in your city.


Published by 4/2014