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How to refinish a cabinet: The simple, safe way

Jul 3

Refinishing cabinets is a great way to update the look and feel of your kitchen,
bathroom or any other room with cabinetry. But working with wood can be tricky.
The grain, pores and natural oils in wood make it prone to splintering, cracking
and warping when exposed to water, heat and friction — all things you’ll
encounter when refinishing wood cabinets. To avoid permanent scars on your
cabinets without sacrificing their charm, follow these expert tips for how to
refinish a cabinet safely and effectively.

Assess the current condition of your cabinets


Before you refinish your cabinets, assess their current condition. This will help
you decide how to refinish your cabinets and which materials best suit your
needs. You’ll want to consider the following factors: - Age - While you can
refinish cabinets of any age, older cabinets will require more sanding than newer
ones. - Environment - If the cabinets are in a frequently moist area, like a kitchen,
you may need to use a special finishing product. - Wear - If the cabinets have
scratches, dents or gouges, you’ll want to repair them before refinishing. -
Cleaning - If the cabinets are already clean, you may not need to sand them
down before refinishing.

Mask key areas of your cabinets


Before you get to work sanding, mask any areas of your cabinetry that you don’t
want to get dirty. This includes areas near electrical outlets and doors, where
dust and sanding residue are likely to accumulate. You can use painter’s tape to
seal off these areas. If you’re refinishing cabinets in an especially dirty
environment, like a kitchen, you may want to seal off the entire cabinet.
Protecting the surrounding area is a lot more challenging, but it’s worth the effort
for a cleaner result.

Sanding and refinishing tools


If you’re sanding down old cabinets that have lots of nicks, dents and gouges, it’s
best to start with a belt sander. This tool is designed for heavy-duty sanding,
making it ideal for fixing major imperfections in your cabinets. When sanding
down new cabinets, it’s best to start with a hand sander. This will allow you to
more precisely control how much you sand, which will help you avoid splintering
the wood. When sanding, remember to use a low-pressure sanding stroke that
moves in the direction of the grain. Avoid sanding in circles, which can tear the
wood. Start with a coarse grit sandpaper and move to a finer grit paper as you
sand.

Protect your cabinetry with a coating


Once you’ve sanded and finished your cabinets, they’ll need protection against
daily wear and tear. If you’ve sanded them down to bare wood, you’ll want to
apply a finish to prevent them from drying out, warping and cracking. A good
finish will also protect your cabinets from water, UV rays, dirt and dust. It can
even make them more resistant to bug bites and stings, like bee stings. There
are a few finish types to consider: - Oil - Oil-based coatings have been commonly
used for centuries to protect wood. They’re great for outdoor use and are less
expensive than other types of finishes. - Water-based - These are suitable for
indoor use, but not outdoor. They’re ideal for cabinets in high-humidity areas, like
kitchens.

Conclusion


Refinishing cabinets is a great way to update the look and feel of your kitchen,
bathroom or any other room with cabinetry. It’s important to follow the tips above
to avoid damaging the wood and creating long-term damage. Cabinets can be
refinished several times, so there’s no need to replace them when they get old or
dirty. Just make sure to protect them with a layer of finish and they can last a
lifetime.