Refinishing Your Kitchen Cabinets Tutorial

April 15, 2019

If you are thinking about how to best improve your kitchen cabinets, why not just up-cycle the ones you have and paint them instead of replacing them! International Coatings has refinished many, many kitchen cabinets for the remodel of our customers’ homes. The question is: how do you DIY the refinish of your kitchen cabinets? 

Before you start with this project, we recommend designating a work area for your cabinets – like your garage or someplace else that is warm enough. If it’s wintertime and you get the DIY cabinet refinishing itch, your workstation needs to be a comfortable 68°-72° (F). To determine the best products to use, we suggest working with professional paint stores to aid in choosing the best quality products for your money (p.s. you’ll want to use a tinted oil-based primer for sure) and to help you pick out a color as well. Once you’ve decided on a color from your favorite paint supply store, you can get started!

Step 1: Choosing a color and designating a workstation.

Step 2: International Coatings always cleans all surfaces before painting with a degreaser -or cleaner. You will want to leave the doors hung in place still at this time. This will help to cut down on time.

Step 3: After cleaning, you’ll need to remove all hardware from the cabinet doors. At this point, you’ll need to identify each door location, as well as hardware. A good tip is to use a perimeter mark and mark the inside location of the hing placement with a number. Cover this number with tape inside the hinge location. You’ll remove the tape once the cabinet refinishing is completed and they’ve been rehung. Repeat this step with each cabinet drawer and door that is to be painted. Store all hinges in a sealed container so that your hardware won’t get lost. Then, transfer all doors and drawers to the workstation you previously prepared.

(The following steps will apply to all boxes, doors, and drawers)

Step 4: Sand (aggressively) ALL surfaces that will be repainted. Once this is completed, remove as much dust as you can with a vacuum, tackrag, or cheesecloth. Removal of the dust is an important step in assuring you’ll be left with a professional-looking cabinet refinish.

Step 5: After sanding and dust removal, you’ll need to prime all surfaces. The best product for the project is a tinted, oil-based primer. While there are many latex primers available, the latex will not have the same adhesion needed for a nice scratch-resistant finish. 

Step 6: Once your tinted primer has completely dried, patch any of your dings or dents on the surfaces. Then, sand the entire surface again and ensure you dust and clean until the area and your cabinets are free of dust. Then followup with another coat of primer to all surfaces. After that coat has dried, sand the 2nd coat of primer to remove all existing dust on the surface.

Step 7: Apply the finish of choice here. We highly recommend a high quality trim urethane  of oil-based paint. Let this completely dry before sanding – once again.

Step 8: Here you’ll be applying your last coat of finish. Apply your finish coat and let it dry entirely. Once you’ve completed this, identify your first door to install. The best process is to start from left to right with your install. Establish the number inside the cabinet hinge and make sure you have removed the tape to unveil the number location.

Step 9: Replace all hinges and knobs/drawer pulls. At this time you can also install cabinet bumpers or slow-closers if you wish to upgrade a bit. Clean up your workstation and uncover any covered area of your kitchen.

Depending on your personal skill level and confidence, we recommend using a brush and roller with a tight nap: 3/8 or 1/2″. If you’re really comfortable, you can even use a sprayer for the project. All projects by International Coatings are sprayed finishes unless a brush/roller are needed. If you’re searching for a professional refinish service in South Lyon, Brighton, or Howell (or the surrounding areas), don’t hesitate to call us at (248) 667-8380 to set up a no-hassle free estimate – or just book online at

Kitchen cabinet refinish in New Hudson, MI

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