Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Bleaching Old Cabinets for a Tuscan Kitchen

by Gabby Hyman
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

The Tuscan kitchen continues to be all the rage -- and why not? Tuscan kitchens have added an airy, cheerful elegance to homes since the Italian Renaissance. You don't need to chuck your existing kitchen cabinets to achieve a radiant Tuscan look. Many homeowners have turned to bleaching old and tired wood to lend a delightful Italian flavor that complements wrought iron and ceramic touches in this kitchen makeover.

Refacing or stripping kitchen cabinets does not have to be a costly proposition. Bleaching cabinets can be a first step in adding a pearling or pickling finish, or it can be a creative end to itself. You can make your own bleaching solution by mixing laundry bleach with ten parts water or buy commercial wood bleach available from most home improvement or hardware stores.

Bleaching Cabinets Adds Instant Tuscan Sunshine

Commercial cabinet wood bleaches are made of peroxide or a combination of chlorine bleach and oxalic acid. In some cases, household bleach can be too weak to penetrate dark layers of cabinet wood. You can buy the stronger, calcium hypochlorite-based bleach from a swimming pool supply store.

Peroxide bleach can lighten cabinets in short order. After cleaning your cabinets and doors, you sponge on the solution -- but sparingly. If you saturate or flood the surface, you'll get patches or uneven streaks. You want to retain the character of your original stain and wood patterns. For a nice touch, wait for the bleach to dry, then lightly sand your wood and apply clear finish, light Florentine-Tuscan dye, or dabs of lacquer.

As always, with any kitchen cabinet or woodwork procedure, begin in a hidden, small area to see how the bleach affects your old wood before moving to large, visible surfaces. Buona Fortuna!

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has written for print and online media for more than 20 years. He has created online content for eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Avaya, and Nissan UK. He has also been a web consultant to the Governor of California. As an author of fiction, journalism, and poetry, Gabby is a former English professor for the University of Illinois, University of Alaska, and Old Dominion University. He holds an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Alabama.

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