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Five Steps to Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets: Stain and Varnish Away

by Greg Keefer

Kitchen cabinets take a beating. When it's time to refinish your kitchen cabinets, you can do it yourself without the expense of hiring a professional.

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Here are five steps to refinishing your kitchen cabinets:

  1. Prepare the cabinet surfaces. Disassemble the cabinets for the easiest preparation, or leave them in place, if you're limber. Use paint thinner or any number of products especially designed to remove old varnish, paint, and stain to get down to the bare wood. Finish up by, first, using medium grade sandpaper. Then, sand it again with very fine grit sandpaper.
  2. Stain the wood. Use a quality brush to avoid uneven strokes. Apply the stain evenly over all of the surfaces. Give the fresh stain about 15 minutes to dry, and, then, lightly rub it with a clean soft cloth to pick up excess stain. If stain puddles, it will stain darker than where it dried quickly.
  3. Add a second coat of stain if desired. If you want a darker stain, repeat the process. Wait a couple of hours between the first and second coats.
  4. Varnish the stained wood. Varnish is available in aerosol or liquid form. An aerosol varnish should be sprayed from a distance of about eight inches to achieve a uniform surface. Common liquid varnishes are either a water-based acrylic (which is applied over water-based paint) or the dammar varnish. The water-based acrylic produces a glossy finish, while the dammar results in a transparent surface.
  5. Apply a second coat of varnish, if needed. Kitchen cabinets have a hard life and can use a second coat of varnish to give them additional protection. Lightly sand the first coat of varnish with fine grade sandpaper to increase its adhesiveness, and thoroughly wipe off the dust. Remaining dust will be visible in dried varnish. If the coats of varnish are thin and allowed to dry for a day or two between applications, you can add a third coat.

Refinish those old wood kitchen cabinets to give them a new lease on life.

 



About the Author

Greg Keefer has been a do-it-yourselfer with lots of experience in how to do things right and how to do them wrong. He enjoys sharing his experience with the hope of helping others to

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