Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet Refacing Finishing Products

by Kelly Richardson
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

If you're in the midst of a cabinet refacing project, or are considering starting one, a key step is to remove the refinishing product from the old pieces. Here are some simple ways to identify the old finish and prepare your cabinets for a new look.

Paint over an old coat of cabinet paint and you'll ruin the color of your new coat. Try to cover old wax with a new shell and the results will look hazy, at best. To correctly complete a cabinet refacing project, you've got to strip and remove the old finish. It helps to know exactly what type of cabinet refacing product you're dealing with.

Cabinet Refacing Options

There are several refinishing products that are typical to most cabinets. Here's how to identify them:
  • Paint. First, determine if the paint is oil or water-based. Using denatured alcohol and a clean, dry cloth, rub briskly over an inconspicuous area. If the paint comes off, it's water-based. If you have an oil-based paint, you'll have to strip them completely and use a quality grade primer before repainting.
  • Polyurethane and/or varnish. Use a basic paint or varnish stripper to completely remove all traces of polyurethane or varnish products.
  • Shellac. Apply a few drops of denatured alcohol to an inconspicuous area. If it's a shellac product, the finish should dissolve almost instantly.
  • Wax. Appling a conservative amount of turpentine will dissolve wax quickly.

Be Aware When Refacing

If your cabinets are finished with Formica or vinyl, don't attempt to paint or refinish them yourself. Hire a professional to reface them or--gasp--go in for new cabinets. Finally, never paint over water-based paint with and oil-based product.

About the Author
Kelly Richardson covers the home improvement scene in between his seasonal projects. His articles appear wherever intelligent interior design is valued.

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