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How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets Without Stripping?

How to Refinish Kitchen Cabinets Without Stripping

Tired of walking into the same old kitchen of yours with rusty cabinets? Since cabinets are the most frequently used part of your kitchen, they’ll start looking shabby sooner than you think. Don’t worry, no need to strip and sand if you don’t want to waste too much time. Refurbishing them without stripping will do for now. Later on, when time and budget allow, you can replace them or restore them professionally.

Here’s how to refinish kitchen cabinets without stripping.

What you’ll need

Before starting this small DIY project, make a list of everything you’ll need, and gather all the essential supplies.

  • Sandpaper
  • Mineral spirit
  • Cloth
  • Screwdriver
  • Clear polyurethane
  • Paintbrush
  • Cabinet enamel
  • Spray paint

Steps to follow when giving your old cabinets a new look

Once you’ve gathered all your gear, you’re all set to start your DIY project. Let’s give your old, rusty cabinets a new look, but without stipping.

  • Take the cabinets apart
    While it’s possible to refinish them while fixed in place, it’s better to take them all apart and separate the doors, handles, and hinges before starting to refinish them. Lay everything out on the ground, so you have easier access while working.
  • Clean the cabinets
    Clean the cabinets before applying the new coat of paint or retouching the new one. Use a mineral spirit to scrub the grime of the cabinets. You can find these mineral spirits at any hardware store closeby or order them online. You can use the usual dish soap too here, but they aren’t as powerful at cutting through hardened grease as a mineral spirit.

You need to soak the cleaning cloth in the spirit and rub it on the surface of the cabinets a few times until most of the grease removes from them.

  • Use sandpaper
    Once all the grease and grime is gone, it’s time to sand them lightly. While holding the sandpaper, move your hands in the same direction as the grains of your wooden cabinets, or you’ll scratch the wood, which will even be visible after you apply paint to it.
  • Wipe with a clean cloth
    After sanding, there will naturally be some dust and debris on the doors of the cabinets that you would want to get out of the way before repainting them. Wipe off all the doors and shelves from both sides using a clean, dry cloth. Now you are ready for restaining kitchen cabinets!
  • Apply paint
    Now that your cabinets are clean let’s see how to refinish kitchen cabinets without stripping.

If you don’t feel the need to apply new paint throughout, you can use a touch pen in the same color to redo the paint from portions where it has faded. If your cabinets are too shabby, it’s best to give them a new coat.

  1. Use cabinet enamel in the color of your choice to give the first coating on the front side. You can use either a paint roller or a simple paintbrush to do the job.
  2. Let the paint dry and give another coat using the same technique.
  3. Once the two coats on the front side have dried, time to paint the backside and the shelves. One coat of paint would do for these since they aren’t as visible as the front.
  • Apply clear polyurethane
    Once the paint has dried, apply a coat of clear polyurethane to everything that you have painted in the previous step. You can also use varnish or lacquer instead of polyurethane in this step. We need a coat of something that will hold the paint in place and will protect the wooden cabinets against moisture and other elements. If you have the time, apply a second coat as well after the first one has dried. Doing so will make your refinished kitchen cabinets even more durable. This is how to restain kitchen cabinets without stripping.

If you want to skip some trouble, you can also purchase stain-polyurethane combos from the market. By applying this combo on the cabinet, you’re applying paint and polyurethane in one go. The job will be done much quicker when using such products.

  • Spray the handles and hinges
    You don’t want the handles and hinges looking worn out when the cabinets are painted fresh. Although this is not an essential step, it’s best to be thorough and not leave out these little spots as well. Choose gold or silver spray paint to paint the handles, hinges, and knobs, depending on their original color.
  • Set them back
    Once all the doors, shelves, handles, and hinges have dried completely, time to set them back in place and relish what you made of your kitchen. Use a screwdriver to reattach the hinges and handles to the cabinet doors. Fix the shelves back in place and secure the cabinet doors in their fittings.


See how you can give your kitchen a makeover in just a few bucks and without wasting much time at all? This is how to refinish kitchen cabinets without stripping. This DIY project will give your kitchen a neat and tidy look for quite some years before you’re ready to invest a little extra and replace the cabinets entirely.