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Options for Refinishing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Close up of someone refinishing cabinet door

Refinishing your cabinets is a fast, inexpensive way to update your kitchen's look.

Looking to give your kitchen a new look, but not interested in paying for a whole wall of new cabinetry? Consider refinishing your cabinets. Check out these methods for ideas on how to get started.

 Paint is a great way to hide imperfections on otherwise perfect cabinetry. So long as the innerworkings are functioning well, a fresh look is just a few steps away. While it's important to speak to your manufacturer or local hardware shop about which specific steps are needed for your cabinets, the following overview should give you a solid idea of the project's scope.

After thoroughly cleaning the surface, fill in any scratches or indentations with wood filler. Sand with 180- to 220-grit sandpaper then apply a coat of shellac-based sealer to help the paint adhere.

To add even more interest to your cabinetry, consider a two-tone color scheme (i.e., painting your molding a different shade than the cabinet itself). Decorative painting is also a unique way to liven them up. Consider the following techniques and effects (consult your local hardware store to find the appropriate kind of paint):

Color washing
: This painting method produces "floating' color. Though heavier application make it appear less cloudlike, this ambient effect often takes on the look of parchment paper.

Rag rolling
: This method produces a rag-like effect, as if moderately-sized patches of paint were applied with a rag.

: It's all in the wrists; the effect you'll get from sponging is largely dependent on the way you apply the paint. A heavy or subtle look can further be achieved by your color choice: contrasting colors pack a punch, while similar shades blend more seamlessly. An easy finish to keep up with, future cabinet dents or scratched can be quickly covered. In terms of application, it's best to use a natural sea sponge rather than those intended for the kitchen sink.

: With roots that reach back to Egyptian times, stenciling is a tried and true way to add visual interest to uninspired cabinets. Be sure to use a pattern.

: Also known as pouncing, this technique mimics a textured sandy effect. Consider this decorative method for your moulding and trim.

: Get out of a fashion pickle by pickling your cabinets. A great way to highlight the wood's natural grain, pickling is best done on open-pored woods like oak and ash, because the majority of the pigment remains in the pores, making the grain more apparent.

Though technically a method, not a finish, semi-transparent white or off-white pickling stains can be purchased. You can also make your own stain; consult your local hardware store for instructions.

Be sure to thoroughly clean the wood before applying any stain. Once the dull task of cleaning is done, the actual pickling method is fairly simple: apply an even coat to a manageable area. Don't fuss too much over a perfect application; apparent brush strokes won't be a problem. Allow the stain to sit for approximately 10 minutes to permeate the wood. Using a folded wiping cloth, remove the stain in long soft strokes until you achieve your desired look. If the surface isn't dark enough for your tastes, repeat the process. Finish with two coats of satin or flat water-based topcoat finish to protect the pickling.



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