Can I Refinish My Own Cabinets? 30 Things to Consider


Newly refinished cabinets can be the breath of fresh air your home needs to look and feel beautiful and updated. So, why not refinish them? However, before embarking on the exciting journey of refinishing cabinets, there are several essential factors that you should consider.

  1. Time commitment: Refinishing cabinets can be a time-consuming endeavor. Assess the size and number of cabinets you plan to refinish and estimate the time required for each step, including surface preparation, painting, and drying times.
  2. Skill level: Be honest about your DIY skills and experience. Cabinet refinishing involves various tasks like sanding, painting, and precise application of finishes. If you’re unsure about any aspect, consider taking a class, consulting a professional, or starting with smaller projects to build confidence.
  3. Budget: Determine a realistic budget for the project. Account for the cost of materials such as sandpaper, primer, paint or stain, brushes or sprayers, hardware, and any additional tools you may need. Factor in unexpected expenses and allocate funds accordingly.
  4. Cabinet condition: Assess the condition of your cabinets before refinishing. Look for structural issues, water damage, or signs of rot. Determine if any repairs or replacements are necessary before proceeding with the refinishing process.
  5. Surface preparation: Properly preparing the cabinet surfaces is crucial for a durable and professional-looking finish. Clean the cabinets thoroughly with a degreaser to remove grease, dirt, and grime. Remove all hardware and cabinet doors, labeling them for easy reassembly.
  6. Safety measures: Prioritize safety during the refinishing process. Wear protective gear, such as safety goggles, a dust mask, and gloves, to guard against chemical exposure, flying debris, and dust particles.
  7. Design and style: Decide on the desired look and style for your cabinets. Research different finishes, colors, and trends to find inspiration. Consider the existing aesthetic of your space and choose a finish that complements it.
  8. Paint or stain: Determine whether you want to paint or stain your cabinets. Paint offers more color options and can cover imperfections, while stain enhances the natural wood grain. Consider the maintenance requirements and durability of each option.
  9. Material selection: Select appropriate paints or stains based on the cabinet material. Different types of wood may require specific primers, sealers, or color treatments. Research suitable products to achieve the desired outcome.
  10. Color selection: Choose a color scheme that aligns with your overall design vision. Consider factors like natural light, room size, and existing color palettes. Test paint samples or stain swatches on a small area to ensure you’re happy with the chosen color.
  11. Finish durability: Consider the durability of the finish. Cabinets endure daily wear and tear, so opt for high-quality paints or stains that resist scratches, moisture, and fading.
  12. Paint application: Determine the best method of paint application for your cabinets. Options include using a brush, roller, or sprayer. Research each technique to achieve a smooth and even finish.
  13. Stain application: Research proper techniques for staining cabinets. Understand the importance of even application, wiping excess stain, and using multiple coats for depth of color. Consider using a pre-stain conditioner to ensure an even absorption of the stain.
  14. Hardware replacement: Decide whether to keep or replace the cabinet hardware. Upgrading knobs, handles, and hinges can give your cabinets a fresh look. Ensure that the new hardware aligns with the overall style and size of your cabinets.
  15. Cabinet layout: Plan the layout of your cabinets during the refinishing process. Allocate adequate space for each cabinet door and drawer front to dry without sticking or smudging the finish.
  16. Ventilation: Proper ventilation is essential when working with paints, stains, and chemical products. Open windows, use fans, or set up exhaust systems to minimize fumes and promote airflow in the workspace.
  17. Drying and curing time: Be aware of the drying and curing times for the chosen paint or stain. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to allow sufficient time between coats before reassembling the cabinets.
  18. Dust prevention: Minimize dust particles settling on wet finishes by working in a clean, dust-free environment. Cover nearby surfaces and ensure proper airflow to prevent debris from contaminating the cabinets.
  19. Lighting considerations: Adequate lighting is crucial for achieving a professional finish. Ensure your workspace is well-lit to accurately see the surfaces, detect imperfections, and achieve an even application.
  20. Test area: Before applying the chosen finish to the entire cabinet, test it on a small, inconspicuous area. This allows you to assess the color, consistency, and overall effect before committing to the entire project.
  21. Application techniques: Research and practice different application techniques to achieve the desired finish. Brushing, rolling, or spraying can produce different effects, so experiment on sample boards or hidden areas to find the method that suits your preference
  22. Cleaning supplies: Gather the necessary cleaning supplies for each step of the refinishing process. This includes rags, sponges, brushes, and cleaning solutions to ensure a clean and well-prepared surface
  23. Paint or stain compatibility: If your cabinets were previously painted, ensure compatibility between the existing finish and the new product you plan to apply. Research proper preparation techniques for paint-to-paint or paint-to-stain adhesion.
  24. Accessibility: Consider the accessibility of your cabinets during the refinishing process. Plan alternate storage or temporary kitchen setups to minimize disruption of your daily activities.
  25. Patience: Refinishing cabinets requires patience. Allow adequate drying time between each coat and resist the temptation to rush the process. Patience ensures a smooth and long-lasting finish.
  26. Maintenance requirements: Research the maintenance requirements for the chosen finish. Understand how to clean and care for your refinished cabinets to ensure longevity and preserve their appearance.
  27. Post-refinishing odor: Some paints and stains emit strong odors during drying. Consider the ventilation in your living space and plan accordingly to minimize any discomfort.
  28. Environmental impact: Be mindful of the environmental impact of your chosen products. Look for low VOC (volatile organic compound) or eco-friendly options that reduce harmful emissions.
  29. Permits and regulations: Check if any local regulations or permits are required for cabinet refinishing projects. Some areas may have restrictions on certain paint types or ventilation requirements, so ensure compliance.
  30. Enjoyment and satisfaction: Embrace the journey of refinishing cabinets and enjoy the process. The satisfaction of transforming your cabinets with your own hands and witnessing the final result can be incredibly rewarding.

Remember, every refinishing project is unique, and adapting these considerations to your specific circumstances is important. Even though you now have the knowledge to go forth and refinish your cabinets on your own, you may still have some unanswered questions, such as: 

  • What if I don’t want to refinish my cabinets on my own? 
  • Should I hire a professional? 
  • Is hiring as a professional worth it? 

Hiring a professional to refinish your cabinets is definitely worth it, and here’s why: 

  1. Expertise and experience: Professionals have the necessary knowledge and experience to deliver high-quality cabinet refinishing. They have honed their skills through years of practice and can handle various challenges that may arise during the process.
  2. Time-saving: Refinishing cabinets can be time-consuming, especially for inexperienced individuals. Professionals work efficiently, utilizing their knowledge and techniques to complete the project in a timely manner, freeing you from the burden of a lengthy DIY process.
  3. Quality craftsmanship: Professionals take pride in their craftsmanship. They pay attention to detail, ensuring that every aspect of the refinishing process, from surface preparation to the final coat, is done with precision and care.
  4. Superior finishes: Professionals have access to premium-grade products and finishes that may not be readily available to the general public. These high-quality materials, combined with their expertise, produce a beautifully finished product that surpasses DIY outcomes.
  5. Customization options: Hiring a professional allows you to explore a wide range of customization options for your cabinets. They can provide guidance on choosing the right colors, finishes, and techniques that align with your vision and complement your space.
  6. Extensive product knowledge: Professionals have in-depth knowledge of various paints, stains, and finishes. They can recommend the most suitable products for your specific cabinet material, desired look, and durability requirements, ensuring long-lasting results.
  7. Proper surface preparation: One of the critical steps in refinishing cabinets is surface preparation. Professionals meticulously clean, sand, and prime the surfaces to create a smooth, even base that enhances the adherence and longevity of the finish.
  8. Equipment and tools: Professionals come equipped with specialized tools and equipment specifically designed for cabinet refinishing. These tools help them achieve professional results and streamline the process, ensuring efficiency and accuracy.
  9. Cost-effective in the long run: While hiring a professional may incur upfront costs, it can be cost-effective in the long run. Professionals use high-quality materials that provide durability, reducing the need for frequent touch-ups or refinishing in the future.
  10. Avoiding costly mistakes: Cabinet refinishing involves numerous intricate steps, and mistakes can be expensive to rectify. Professionals have the knowledge and experience to navigate potential pitfalls, avoiding costly errors that may occur during a DIY project.
  11. Insurance coverage: Reputable professionals carry liability insurance, which protects you and your property in case of any accidents or damages that may occur during the refinishing process. This coverage provides peace of mind and financial protection.
  12. Efficient project management: Professionals excel in project management. They coordinate and schedule each step, ensuring a smooth workflow. They handle logistics such as acquiring materials, coordinating with other professionals (if necessary), and minimizing disruptions to your daily routine.
  13. Access to professional networks: Professionals often have connections to other industry experts, such as carpenters or contractors. If your cabinets require additional repairs or modifications, they can recommend trusted professionals who can handle those tasks efficiently.
  14. Stress reduction: Hiring a professional to refinish your cabinets alleviates the stress and burden associated with a DIY project. You can relax knowing that the job is in capable hands, allowing you to focus on other priorities or enjoy your free time.
  15. Enhanced resale value: Well-refinished cabinets can significantly increase the value of your home. Professionals know to enhance the cabinets’ aesthetic appeal and overall quality, making your property more attractive to potential buyers.
  16. Knowledge of safety protocols: Professionals know safety protocols and best practices. They use appropriate safety equipment, handle chemicals and solvents with care, and ensure proper ventilation, protecting both themselves and your living environment.
  17. Efficient cleanup and disposal: Refinishing cabinets generates debris, dust, and waste materials. Professionals have systems in place to efficiently clean up the workspace, properly dispose of hazardous materials, and leave your home clean and tidy after the project is completed.
  18. Warranty or guarantee: Reputable professionals often offer warranties or guarantees on their workmanship and materials used. This provides added protection and reassurance, knowing that any issues will be addressed promptly and professionally.
  19. Access to professional advice: Professionals can offer valuable advice and suggestions beyond refinishing cabinets. They can help with design choices, recommend hardware upgrades, and provide insights on maintaining the beauty and longevity of your cabinets.
  20. Enjoyment of the final result: By hiring a professional, you get to experience the joy of seeing your cabinets transformed without the stress and effort of a DIY project. You can sit back and appreciate the impeccable finish, knowing skilled hands achieved it.
  21. Customized solutions: Professionals can provide customized solutions based on your specific needs. They can assess the condition of your cabinets, identify any underlying issues, and recommend appropriate refinishing techniques or repairs to achieve the best possible outcome.
  22. Knowledge of trends and styles: Professionals stay up-to-date with the latest trends and styles in cabinet refinishing. They can offer insights into popular finishes, color palettes, and design elements, helping you achieve a modern and stylish look for your cabinets.
  23. Efficient color matching: If you’re looking to match your cabinets’ existing color or finish, professionals have the expertise to achieve precise color matching. They can ensure a seamless blend between refinished cabinets and the rest of your kitchen or space.
  24. Preservation of cabinet integrity: Professionals understand the importance of preserving the integrity of your cabinets during the refinishing process. They employ techniques that minimize the risk of damage to the cabinet structure, ensuring they remain sturdy and functional.
  25. Customer satisfaction: Hiring a professional ensures a higher level of customer satisfaction. Professionals prioritize your needs and preferences, communicate effectively throughout the project, and strive to exceed your expectations, leaving you delighted with the final outcome.

When selecting a professional, be sure to research and choose one with positive reviews, a portfolio that aligns with your expectations, and proper licensing and certifications. Their expertise and professionalism will ensure a successful cabinet refinishing experience.

Get in Touch with Allen Brothers for Your Cabinet Refinishing Project 

No matter where you start or how you finish, remember that you do not have to do it alone. If you want newly refinished kitchen cabinets for your home, Allen Brothers Cabinet Painting is ready and willing to help. We can visit you in Sandy, Draper, South Jordan, West Jordan, Salt Lake City, and other nearby cities and towns. Contact us for more information today.