How To Restore Kitchen Cabinets And Fix Worn Spots

Over time kitchen cabinets can become dull and worn. This can, in turn, make the entire room look dated. Well, you'll be happy to know there are ways to restore your kitchen cabinets and repair worn-out spots to help bring them back to life. We've researched the best way to restore kitchen cabinets, and in this post, we will cover them.

Here are the steps to restore your kitchen cabinets:

  1. Set up the work area
  2. Remove the doors and drawers
  3. Clean the cabinets
  4. Repair damage
  5. Sand the cabinets
  6. Apply a primer
  7. Apply paint or finish
  8. Apply additional coats
  9. Apply a top coat (optional)
  10. Inspect and re-attach fixtures

You don't need a carpenter or painter to restore your kitchen cabinets. In fact, you can perform this DIY project all on your own and without breaking the bank. Continue reading to learn about the materials to use and the best method to restore your kitchen cabinets.

A repairman in uniform working, fixing kitchen cabinet using screwdriver, How To Restore Kitchen Cabinets And Fix Worn Spots

Steps to Restore Kitchen Cabinets And Fix Worn Spots

Things you'll need:

  • Wood finish
  • 180-grit sander or sanding block
  • Microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Tarps
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Angled paintbrush or roller

Modern kitchen with oven and microwave 1. Set up the work area

The first thing that you want to do is clear the area beneath the cabinets of any appliances or personal items. Next, take a few tarps and cover the counter and floor beneath the cabinets to ensure that they stay free of paint drips and splashes. If you don't have tarps, you can also use old newspaper and painter's tape.

Check out this tarp on Amazon.

2. Remove the doors and drawers

Using a screwdriver as needed, remove the drawers and doors from the cabinetry. You should be able to simply lift the drawers up and pull them out off of the rails to get them out. Also, you'll want to cover any fixtures that are not removable ornaments on the cabinet with painter's tape.

Find painter's tape on Amazon.

3. Clean the cabinets

Now it's time to prep your cabinets. This means cleaning them thoroughly so that their surface will be free of grease and debris. You can use any mild cleaner or degreaser for the cabinets. This includes regular dishwashing liquid or an all-purpose cleaner.

If you run into trouble removing the grease from the cabinetry, consider using a plastic scrubber to gently go over the surface and wipe the grease until it's lifted. Afterward, dry the cabinets thoroughly with a few paper towels.

Buy dishwashing liquid on Amazon.

4. Repair damage

If the cabinets have any holes, scratches, or dents, now is the time to repair them with a bit of wood filler. You can purchase this online or at your local hardware store for about $12.

Apply the wood filler using a small putty knife and spread it evenly across the damaged area. If applying it to a hole, be sure to press it firmly into the hole to avoid bubbles when you apply the paint.

Find wood filler on Amazon.

5. Sand the cabinets

Now that your cabinets are clean and repaired, take your sanding block or electric sander and lightly go over the cabinets, starting on the left and working your way to the right. If your cabinets have a finish, you don't need to remove all of it, but make sure to scuff it up gently a bit with the sandpaper for better adhesion.

Once you've sanded the cabinets, use a dry cleaning cloth or vacuum with a hose attachment to remove the dust. Next, go over the cabinets with a damp cleaning cloth or tack cloth to remove all residual dust from the sanding. Finally, go over the cabinets again with a dry towel to make sure that they are completely dry before moving to the next step.

Check out this orbital sander on Amazon.

6. Apply a primer

Gently agitate the can of primer for about 15 to 20 seconds to mix up the solution. Next, grab your brush apply the primer to the cabinets starting from left to right. When applying the primer, be sure to only lightly coat the surface of the cabinets, as you don't want to cause excessive dripping.

Be sure to use short even brush strokes so that the primer drives evenly. After applying the first coat, let it dry for the recommended time (typically 30 to 45 minutes) and then apply another coat.

Learn more about this primer on Amazon.

7. Apply paint or finish

After the last coat of primer has been applied, take out your paint and stir with a paint stick until smooth. Next, starting again on the left side of the cabinet, apply the paint using long even strokes in a zigzag motion.

When painting the cabinet's interior, it's best to start with the back of the cabinet then paint the top, sides, and bottom.

Learn more about this angled paintbrush on Amazon.

8. Apply additional coats

After the first coat of paint dries, take your sanding block and lightly go over the cabinets. This will provide additional adhesion for the other coats. Next, apply another coat of paint and allow it to dry before re-sanding and applying another coat. It's best to limit your number of paint coats to three or four, as applying more may cause the paint to peel or buckle prematurely.

Read more details about this interior paint on Amazon.

9. Apply a top coat (optional)

You can also apply a final top coat after the paint application. The top coat works well to help add a shiny coat to the paint, and it provides extra protection from dents and scrapes. You can find a spray-on topcoat or a liquid that you can apply in the same manner as the paint and primer.

Just be sure that the paint is completely dry before applying the top coat. It may be best to wait at least 24 hours before doing so.

Check out this top coat on Amazon.

10. Inspect and re-attach fixtures

Once the topcoat is dry to go back and take a look at the paint job, and if everything looks okay, re-attach the drawers and cabinets and remove the painter's tape from the knobs and other fixtures.

Learn more about this screwdriver on Amazon.

Are you more of a visual learner? If so, check out this YouTube video to see how you can effectively restore your kitchen cabinets:


How do you bring wooden cabinets back to life?

There are a few different ways that you can bring your wooden cabinets back to life. If the cabinets are still in relatively good condition, you can re-paint them to restore them and make them look brand-new.

Or, if they have a bit of damage or look worn or dull, you can sand them down and apply a few new coats of finish. A high-quality wood finish can restore the cabinets while blending out small blemishes, scratches, and other abrasions--not to mention it can add a lustrous shine to the wood.

Check out more details about this wood finish on Amazon.

How do you touch up worn spots on kitchen cabinets?

If you have areas on the cabinet that appear worn or have a faded finish, it's best to apply a finish or touch up the areas with paint. The method that you use depends on the current finish on the cabinet. Keep in mind that this works for small indiscriminate dings and scratches. If there are large areas of the cabinetry that appear worn, it's best to re-do the entire cabinet to ensure consistency.

How can I restore my kitchen cabinets without sanding and varnishing?

If you want to restore your cabinets without sanding or applying varnish, you can paint them with chalk paint or multiple coats of oil-based paint. However, it's best to apply a quality wood primer to ensure optimal adhesion when doing this. You can also strip the cabinets to give them a new coat of paint--again, a good primer is necessary to ensure that the paint sticks well. You can also apply a wood finish or stain instead of a varnish.

How can I update my kitchen cabinets without replacing them?

If you don't want to update your cabinets, you can paint them to make them look like a brand new set of cabinets. You can also change the handles and other fixtures on the cabinet to give them a more modern or antique feel.

Wrapping Things Up

Restoring kitchen cabinets is a relatively straightforward task, and as you can see, you have quite a few options when it comes to making the cabinets look brand new. The options include re-painting, applying varnish, wood finish, or a stain. And remember, the best way to ensure a quality finish is to perform equality prep work.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

5 Ways To Waterproof Cabinets Under The Kitchen Sink

Should Kitchen Cabinets Reach The Ceiling?

One comment

  1. Such an informative article! All the information provided by you is really very helpful. By using tack cloth you can easily remove small dust particles from the surface and it also gives you smooth paint finishing. Thank you for sharing! Keep posting!

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