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Make your kitchen look like new with a cabinet facelift.
Heat, water, grease and food residue can take their toll on your kitchen cabinets. And you might be surprised what a good scrubbing can do. When you're ready to clean your cabinets, have the following on hand:
Hardware (including hinges) gets greasy and dirty, too. Since you have the doors off, remove the knobs and hinges, and clean the hardware:
If you need to replace one or two pieces, take one set with you when you go to your local Lowe's. But if your cabinet hardware is older, it may be difficult to find an exact match. With all the knobs and hinges off, it's a great time to shop for new hardware. You should also take some of your old hardware along to make sure the new hardware will fit your existing doors.
Many decorative styles of hinges, knobs and pulls are available in various colors, metals and finishes:
When choosing the finish for your hardware, think about what style will look best in your home. If your style is traditional, brushed finishes, polished brass, nickel or pewter will complement your décor. If you have a more contemporary décor, choose finishes with an enameled or high-gloss-metal shine or theme hardware to blend with the overall look of the kitchen.
You can dress up drab cabinet doors with moulding. Applying a contrasting finish or color is a quick and inexpensive way to change the look of your kitchen. Keep the following safety tips in mind when you add moulding:
If your cabinets still don't look spectacular after cleaning, you may have to refinish or paint them. The cabinet-refinishing process is similar to the one for refinishing furniture.
Unless you're planning to take your cabinets down, there are a few extra things to remember. As you've already discovered from cleaning, working with cabinets in place on the wall can be messy and awkward. Liquid strippers work best, but use the gel or semipaste types. They won't drip as much when used on vertical surfaces. However, before you can buy the proper stripper, you'll need to find out what kind of finish is on your cabinets.
The original finish is one of several possible materials. Most of them look identical to an untrained eye. Use the chart below to determine what type of finish you have. Find an inconspicuous spot on the wood to perform the tests.
If You Suspect
Put a few drops of turpentine on the wood. If the finish dissolves, it's wax-based.
Apply a few drops of denatured alcohol. If the finish dissolves quickly, it's shellac.
Lacquer or Shellac
Try a few drops of lacquer thinner to dissolve.
A few drops of Xylene liquefies water-based finishes.
Polyurethane or Varnish
Paint / varnish remover strips these materials, but you'll probably still have to sand some of the old finish off.
Other Finishes You May Encounter (and What to Do About Them)
The product does just what its name says, so nothing can remove it. The color isn't strippable since it's become part of the wood. If the wood is dry, it can be clear-coated, waxed or painted.
Determine whether the paint is oil-based or water-based (latex).
Rub a rag or cotton ball moistened with denatured alcohol on the paint surface. If it rubs off or gets soft, it's latex. Alcohol won't affect oil paint.
Latex paint can be applied over oil if the old surface has been lightly sanded and properly primed.
Vinyl-Covered or Formica Surfaces
Don't attempt to paint or refinish. A professional should refinish cabinets surfaced with these materials.
Always let the stripping agent do the work. These products are relatively easy to use. But if you're not an experienced refinisher, you may want to start with an inconspicuous area or door. Remember to keep countertops, appliances and floors covered when stripping and refinishing.
After stripping and before refinishing or painting, patch any conspicuous holes, scratches and nicks with wood filler. When dry, sand lightly to smooth out the patch. Before painting, sand lightly and prime.
Note: Before you decide to paint floating-panel cabinet doors, remember that the wood expands and contracts with the seasons. This will cause the paint bead to separate and expose unpainted wood.
*Time and Cost are estimated.