Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

6 of the worst cabinet refinishing mistakes

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

If you've ever tried a do-it-yourself project, you know that things can go wrong or get more complicated in a heartbeat. When you're fixing up some old furniture or building a shed, the stakes really aren't all that high. When you take the plunge and decide to refinish your kitchen cabinets, on the other hand, you're risking losing your kitchen for an extra week or more, damaging the built-in frames, ruining doors and, at worst, having to pay someone to come help you finish the job properly.

Rather than going through all of that, it's better to learn from mistakes that other people have made. Here's a list of common issues, mistakes and major mess-ups that can take all the joy out of doing it yourself:

  1. Working in the wrong weather. You need the windows open for ventilation when sanding or working with paints and chemicals, so it has to be warm enough for that. If it's too hot, though, you may have issues with the finishing products not setting right.
  2. Not budgeting in the proper amount of time. Rome, as they say, wasn't built in a day. Your cabinets aren't quite at that scale, but there's still no way you'll be able to completely refinish them in a day. Accept reality and choose a time when you can live without a kitchen for a few days while you're refinishing the frames.
  3. Skimping on the prep. Cabinets are more complicated and have quite a bit more surface area than they might initially seem. To do the refinishing job correctly, you need to thoroughly clean and sand everything first. It's easy to get impatient at this stage and rush through, but you'll appreciate doing a better job when you have to look at your cabinets every single day. Make sure you've got a clear workspace and a clear calendar; sanding is a monstrous task.
  4. Skipping the primer. If you're painting, don't skip the primer. There may be interactions between what was on the wood and what you're applying that could result in blemishes or the wood not taking the paint evenly.
  5. Measuring incorrectly. A quick trip to the store might serve as a nice break, but it'll slow you down. Measure your cabinets twice, so you'll only have to shop once and won't run out of finishing materials.
  6. Lack of patience. Follow the directions for all finishing products, and let your cabinets dry before you put them back together. You'd really kick yourself if you didn't give the paint time to dry and had to chisel your cabinet doors off to sand, prime and paint all over again.

These are just a handful of the most common mistakes. If you feel like you're getting in over your head with the project, don't hesitate to call in a professional contractor before you mess up big time.

About the Author
Karl Fendelander cut his teeth on web writing in the late nineties and has been plugged in to the newest technology and tuned in to the latest trends ever since. With an eye for design and an ear for language, Karl has created content and managed digital media for startups and established companies alike. When he unplugs, Karl can be found biking about town and hiking and climbing throughout the West.

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