New kitchen cabinets are a costly line item in a remodel. Instead, consider refreshing your old cabinets to save money while still transforming your kitchen.  

Painted cabinets: If your cabinets are painted, then it’s fairly easy to change their appearance. Remove the old hardware and clean off the grime. Use 100-grit sandpaper to scuff the old paint (you don’t need to sand down to bare wood). Repair scratches and dents with wood filler and then prime the cabinets. Apply acrylic latex-based paint with a quality brush for the finish coat. A satin or semi-gloss finish is typically used so that the cabinets are easy to clean.

Stained cabinets: If your cabinets are stained, you’ll have a harder time changing how they look, but it’s still possible to renovate them yourself. As a rule of thumb, you can stain them the same color or darker. In order to go lighter, you would need to remove the old pigment entirely.

Using sandpaper to scuff the old finish. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)
Using sandpaper to scuff the old finish. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)

Remove all the hardware and use 220-grit sandpaper to scuff the old finish. Then clean the surfaces with mineral spirits.

Touching up areas where the finish is completely worn through with a stain marker. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)
Touching up areas where the finish is completely worn through with a stain marker. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)
Advertising

If the finish is worn through to the wood, use a Minwax Wood Finish Stain Marker to touch up the worn wood.

Adding a layer of stain/polyurethane formula. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)
Adding a layer of stain/polyurethane formula. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)

Next, apply Minwax PolyShades, which is a combination stain and polyurethane that can be applied over existing stained surfaces. Brush on a single coat with a quality natural-bristle brush and let it dry overnight.

The refinished cabinets. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)
The refinished cabinets. (Courtesy of Jeff Layton)