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Resurfacing Kitchen Cabinets: Essential Steps

There have never been more options, services, or products available for cabinetry and its improvement than there are today. Upgrading your kitchen for increased value, repairing damaged or worn cabinet faces, or simply improving the look of the room is no small task. Still, all of this can be accomplished with professional results if you pay attention to some essential steps.

The first would be assessing the make-up and condition of your cabinets. This will determine, in part, what options are available. For instance, should you refinish or replace? If there is damage or extreme wear throughout, then replacement may be your most logical solution. If, however, the function and style are acceptable, determining the make-up is next. Are your cabinets made from solid wood, composite or faux finish?

Faux finish cabinets have a vinyl facing either glued or wrapped around them. These finishes are commonly applied in the factory over rough, inexpensive materials not suitable for most standard finishes. If this is your situation, replacement may be the best choice.

Composite cabinets are made of several pieces of wood, jointed and glued together to form door and drawer faces. Composites can be re-worked, but the options are fewer. Staining or any finish that would reveal wood grains cannot be used. Also, since the types of wood used in composite assembly differ, stains and lacquers may result in light and dark areas in the finish. Deep cleaning, painting, or veneering are the best options here.

The widest variety of finishes and procedures applies to solid wood components, which are suitable to natural finish, stain, paint, or veneer. Preparation is critical to a professional result. Even cabinets that appear spotless have deposits embedded in their grains, which will be a problem for finishes. Using products with tri sodium phosphate will effectively eliminate this condition without negatively impacting finishing materials. Cleaners such as these and products designed to fill or mask scratches and imperfections are readily available at any home improvement center.

Sanding the surface is another option, albeit more labor intensive and messy. Hiring a skilled kitchen contractor will help ensure your results are even and unmarred. Gels designed to “melt” paint or varnish won’t hurt the cabinets’ surface and will do a competent job. This is the messiest process of all but can preserve the delicate, fine details in fancier woodwork which sanding or scraping could potentially mar or remove.

Veneering is a touchy application requiring large work areas in a climate controlled environment. Experienced professionals will have the tools and experience necessary to apply veneer without adhesion problems or negative results due to miscalculated temperature control.

Paint, stain, or clear finishes are the final options. Remember, you must identify the make-up of the surfaces and complete preparation before starting the finishing process. The next decision would consist of the method of application. Roller, paint brush, rag, or spray? Application will depend on the type of finish.

However you choose to resurface your kitchen cabinets, remember to work in a well-ventilated area and wear a respirator when working with caustic removal and finishing materials. As always, consult a kitchen pro for optimum results.


Rockler Woodworking

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