How To Sand Your Way to 'New' Kitchen Cabinets

Old and discolored kitchen cabinets are not a hopeless case. In fact, they are a perfect subject for a refinishing project. But refinishing old kitchen cabinets involves a lot of sanding. And sanding, in general, is a bit laborious, especially if you have plenty and large kitchen cabinets. But if sanding will restore your kitchen cabinets’ old appeal, why not give it a try? Here’s how to do this.

  • Decide where to do the sanding. Because this can be terribly messy, sanding should be done outside the house. But if you don’t have an outdoor space, this can be done indoors, provided that the doors and windows are all open.
  • Disassemble the kitchen cabinets. Do this by unscrewing the doors and all the hardware items of the cabinets. Make sure to keep the screws in a small plastic cup, so you can easily access them later. The metal attachments, like knobs and handles, should also be properly kept.
  • Remove the old finish. You need to get rid of as much old finish as you can before you begin sanding. A lacquer remover is necessary for this. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and take note of any special removal instructions.
  • Start the procedure. Begin sanding the kitchen cabinets as soon as you are ready. You can choose to hand-sand or use a power sander. If you hand-sand, you gain more control of the sandpaper and therefore of the procedure. But if you choose to use a power sander, you can finish the job much faster. So decide which you think is best for you. In any case, you should start sanding using medium-grade sandpaper. Focus on one portion at first, making sure to sand across the grain. Avoid sanding too hard to prevent thinning the wood. Don’t forget to use gloves, goggles, and dust mask for your protection.
  • Reach the nooks and crannies. Sanding the holes, corners, and small areas is pretty easy if you are hand-sanding. But if you are using an electric sander, this would be impossible. So turn off your sander for a while and switch to hand-sanding. Roll the sandpaper or put it over one finger and run it along the corners and holes, applying uniform pressure.
  • Wipe away the dust. Using a tack cloth, remove the dust from the surface of the cabinets. Make sure to remove as much dust as you can. You can also use a duster and damp rag for this.
  • Repeat sanding. This time, you need to use finer sandpaper. Best to use is 320-grit. Again, you can choose to hand-sand or use a power sander. Following the grain, sand the surface with light but uniform pressure. As opposed to initial sanding, where your goal is to remove the top wood fiber, you need to achieve a smooth wood surface during the final sanding.
  • Clean the surface once more. Again, you need to remove wood dust from the cabinets. Because you have to apply finish after this, you need to completely clean the surface. If you fail to do so, the remaining dust might be visible in the finish.

After sanding, you can stain or paint your kitchen cabinets and make them look like new again. But remember to prep up the wood by applying wood conditioner.


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