cabinet resurfacing

How should I prepare my kitchen for cabinet resurfacing?

Preparing your kitchen for cabinet resurfacing is essential for achieving a professional and long-lasting finish. Proper preparation not only ensures that the new finish adheres well but also protects your kitchen from dust and debris during the process. By taking the time to clear out cabinets, clean and degrease surfaces, remove hardware, protect surrounding areas, and ensure good ventilation, you set the stage for a successful resurfacing project. Additionally, organizing a workspace, inspecting for damages, and planning your workflow will help streamline the process and minimize disruptions to your daily routine. Join  Top Refinish to prepare your kitchen effectively for cabinet resurfacing.

1. Clear Out Cabinets and Drawers

The first step in preparing your kitchen for cabinet resurfacing is to remove all items from your cabinets and drawers. This includes dishes, cookware, utensils, food, and any other items stored inside. Clearing out the contents prevents them from getting dusty or damaged during the resurfacing process and provides easy access to the cabinet surfaces.

Start by organizing boxes or storage bins to keep your kitchen items during the project. Label each container to make it easier to find things later. As you empty each cabinet and drawer, take the opportunity to declutter and get rid of any items you no longer need. This will make reorganizing your kitchen much simpler once the resurfacing is complete.

2. Clean and Degrease Surfaces

Thoroughly cleaning all cabinet surfaces, including the inside and outside, is a crucial step in preparing for resurfacing. Grease, grime, and dirt can interfere with the adhesion of new finishes, so it’s essential to remove all residues.

Use a degreaser or a mixture of warm water and mild detergent to clean the surfaces. Apply the cleaning solution with a sponge or cloth, scrubbing gently but thoroughly. Pay special attention to areas around handles and near the stove, where grease tends to accumulate. After cleaning, rinse with clean water and dry the surfaces with a clean towel. For stubborn grease, consider using a specialized kitchen cleaner or a solution of vinegar and water.

3. Remove Hardware

Removing all hardware from your cabinets, including handles, knobs, and hinges, is necessary for a smooth resurfacing process. Use a screwdriver to carefully take off each piece of hardware. Keep all screws and hardware in labeled bags or containers for easy reinstallation later.

If you plan to replace the hardware, ensure you have the new pieces ready before the resurfacing begins. Choosing new hardware that complements the new finish can enhance the overall look of your cabinets. If you are keeping the existing hardware, consider cleaning it thoroughly or giving it a fresh coat of paint to match the new cabinet surfaces.

4. Protect Surrounding Areas

Protecting the surrounding areas in your kitchen is essential to prevent damage and keep the workspace clean. Cover countertops, appliances, flooring, and any nearby furniture with protective sheets or drop cloths. Use painter’s tape to secure the coverings and to protect the edges and surfaces adjacent to the cabinets.

Pay special attention to areas where dust and debris are likely to settle, such as open countertops and the tops of appliances. If you have an open-concept kitchen, consider using plastic sheeting to section off the work area and minimize the spread of dust throughout your home. Additionally, cover any exposed electrical outlets or switches to protect them from dust and accidental splatters.

5. Ensure Ventilation

Good ventilation is crucial during the resurfacing process to reduce the buildup of fumes from paints, stains, or adhesives. Ensure your kitchen is well-ventilated by opening windows and using fans to circulate air.

If your kitchen has an exhaust fan, use it to help remove fumes. Portable fans can also be positioned to direct air out of the workspace. If possible, schedule the resurfacing project for a time when the weather allows for open windows. Proper ventilation not only protects your health but also helps the new finishes dry and cure more effectively.

6. Prepare a Workspace

Designating a workspace for sanding, painting, or applying new veneers is essential for a smooth resurfacing process. Choose a well-ventilated area with ample space to lay out cabinet doors and drawers. A garage, basement, or a large outdoor area can work well for this purpose.

Set up a workbench or table to hold your tools and supplies. Cover the work surface with drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect it from paint and dust. Organize your tools and materials so they are easily accessible during the project. If you are working indoors, consider using a portable dust collector or vacuum to keep the workspace clean.

7. Sand Surfaces

Lightly sanding the surfaces of the cabinets creates a rough texture that will help the new finish adhere better. Use fine-grit sandpaper and work in the direction of the wood grain. Sanding removes the glossy finish and any imperfections on the surface, providing a better base for the new finish.

After sanding, wipe down the surfaces with a damp cloth to remove any dust. For larger sanding projects, an electric sander can save time and effort. Be sure to wear a dust mask and safety goggles to protect yourself from dust particles. Sanding not only improves adhesion but also helps to smooth out any rough or uneven areas on the cabinet surfaces.

8. Plan for Downtime

Consider how you will manage without access to your kitchen cabinets during the resurfacing process. Plan meals that don’t require extensive kitchen use, or set up a temporary kitchen area with essential items in another part of your home.

Prepare a selection of no-cook meals or pre-cook and store meals that can be easily reheated. Set up a temporary kitchen in a nearby room with a microwave, toaster oven, and a mini-fridge if possible. Stock up on disposable plates, cups, and utensils to minimize dishwashing. Planning for downtime ensures that you can still prepare meals and maintain some normalcy in your routine while your kitchen is out of commission.

9. Communicate with Professionals

If you are hiring professionals for the cabinet resurfacing job, communicate any specific preferences or requirements you have. Ensure you understand their process, timeline, and any preparation they might require from you.

Discuss the scope of the project, including the types of finishes and any additional work that might be needed. Confirm the start and end dates, as well as any milestones along the way. Clear communication with the professionals will help ensure that the project meets your expectations and is completed on time.

10. Inspect and Repair Damages

Before starting the resurfacing process, inspect your cabinets for any damage, such as cracks, dents, or loose hinges. Repairing these issues beforehand will ensure a smoother and more durable finish.

For minor cracks and dents, use wood filler to fill in the gaps. Apply the filler with a putty knife and smooth it out, then let it dry completely before sanding it down to a smooth finish. For more significant damages, consider consulting a professional to ensure proper repairs. Tighten any loose hinges or screws, and replace any damaged parts that cannot be fixed.

11. Remove Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Removing cabinet doors and drawers allows for easier access to all surfaces that need to be resurfaced. Label each door and drawer with masking tape and a marker to ensure they are reinstalled in the correct location.

Use a screwdriver to remove the hinges and carefully set aside the doors and drawers. Store them in a safe, clean area where they won’t be damaged during the project. Labeling is crucial because it ensures that each piece goes back to its original spot, which can save time and prevent confusion during reinstallation.

12. Tape Off Areas

Using painter’s tape to tape off areas that you do not want to be painted or stained is a crucial step in the preparation process. This includes areas around the cabinets, such as walls, ceiling edges, and countertops.

Apply the tape carefully, ensuring it is straight and securely adhered to the surfaces. Press down firmly on the edges of the tape to prevent paint from seeping underneath. If you are applying multiple layers of paint or stain, make sure to remove and reapply the tape between coats to maintain clean lines.

13. Choose Your Finishing Products

Selecting the right finishing products is essential for achieving the desired look and durability for your cabinets. This includes choosing the type of paint, stain, or veneer, as well as any sealants or topcoats.

Consider the style and color scheme of your kitchen when choosing your finishes. If you are painting, choose a high-quality paint that is specifically designed for cabinets, as it will provide better durability and a smoother finish. For stains, select a product that enhances the natural beauty of the wood. Additionally, choose a protective topcoat that will seal the finish and protect it from moisture, heat, and daily wear and tear.

14. Gather Necessary Tools and Materials

Having all the necessary tools and materials on hand before you begin will make the resurfacing process more efficient and help you avoid interruptions. Gather items such as sandpaper, screwdrivers, paintbrushes, rollers, paint trays, drop cloths, painter’s tape, wood filler, and cleaning supplies.

Make sure you have enough of each material to complete the project. If you are using power tools, check that they are in good working condition and have any necessary attachments. Having everything prepared in advance will allow you to work more smoothly and efficiently, without needing to stop and gather additional supplies.

15. Plan Your Workflow

Planning your workflow ensures that the resurfacing process is organized and efficient. Determine the order in which you will complete each step, from cleaning and sanding to painting and reassembling.

Start by breaking down the project into manageable sections. Decide whether you will work on all the cabinets at once or in stages. Plan to start with the upper cabinets first to avoid any drips or splatters on the lower cabinets. Allocate specific times for each task, allowing for drying times between coats of paint or stain. Having a clear plan will help you stay on track and complete the project in a timely manner.

By following these additional steps, you can further ensure that your kitchen is well-prepared for cabinet resurfacing. Proper preparation is key to achieving a professional and long-lasting finish that will enhance the overall look and functionality of your kitchen. With careful attention to detail and thorough planning, your cabinet resurfacing project can be a successful and rewarding experience.


In conclusion, preparing your kitchen for cabinet resurfacing involves several key steps to ensure a smooth and successful project. Clearing out cabinets, cleaning and degreasing surfaces, removing hardware, and protecting surrounding areas are crucial for creating an ideal work environment. Ensuring good ventilation, setting up a workspace, and planning your workflow further streamline the process. By inspecting and repairing damages, taping off areas, choosing the right finishing products, and gathering necessary tools and materials, you can achieve a professional and long-lasting finish. With careful preparation and attention to detail, your kitchen will be ready for a beautiful cabinet transformation that enhances its overall look and functionality.

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