Ten years ago our kitchen cabinets were perfect. They were brand new, nice and white. However, true to my nature, I got tired of the white cabinets. Every little thing shows up and to be frank, we just didn’t get what we paid for. It wasn’t too many years and the white started peeling up at the corners. I thought the cabinets were painted wood and was quite dismayed to discover that our cabinets are actually made of MDF (medium density fiberboard) with white plastic heat pressed onto it. We have ample cabinetry, with twenty doors and twelve drawers, so replacing all this would be a major expense. Since the cabinets themselves are still in very good shape I simply could not justify the expense of purchasing new kitchen cabinetry.
I put my DIY thinking cap on and decided to experiment. I took one of the most inconspicuous drawers and peeled the white plastic off. Under the white plastic was a perfectly formed, MDF drawer front. It was a pleasant surprise. MDF is factory finished to a smooth surface that is usually paint-ready. My DIY wheels began turning and what started out as a kitchen clean-up ended up being a kitchen make over!
If you are met with the same dilemma, the solution is a simple one. I will outline for you the steps we took to refinish our kitchen cabinets. The entire process took about 10 days.
- Remove all doors and drawers from the cabinetry.
- The cabinets themselves are often painted surfaces. If so, clean them well with a strong soap such as Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinse with water. Let dry 24 hours.
- If your cabinets are not painted, but a pressed on surface, this can be peeled off, but do so carefully so as not to damage the surface of the cabinet. We removed only the areas that were damaged and cleaned the remainder. Sand any area that you peel to smooth the surface for painting.
- Remove the pressed on finish of the cabinet doors by loosening it at the edges with your finger nail. Once you have loosened it, it will peel very easily and very quickly. You can strip a full sized cabinet door in less a minute.
- Prime everything with an oil based primer. Let dry completely and sand gently with a 150 grit sandpaper.
- Paint all of the doors, drawers and cabinets. Let dry 48 hours. Use an oil based paint when painting cabinets. This is more durable than latex paints and cleans very well. It will also provide a nice finish.
- Sand all surfaces gently with 150 grit sandpaper and paint again with the oil based paint.
When all is painted with the second coat of paint, you should allow a good 48 hours to dry before assembling the doors and knobs. This will allow the paint to dry completely and you will not risk damaging any of the surfaces.
When your project is completed you will have nicely refurbished cabinets that can be repainted again when you are tired of the new color.