Kitchen Cabinet Refacing and Refinishing

Kitchen cabinets looking old and worn? Think you need to replace them but don’t have the money to spend on new ones? Maybe there’s a way to get the look of brand new cabinets without dishing out the dough. Follow these simple steps to reface and refinish your kitchen cabinets to give it that “like-new” look:

Step 1: Reface sides, drawers, and doors with Veneer and Stain.

Remove cabinets, drawers and all hardware.  Sand the sides and front surfaces.  Sand it just enough so it’s rough enough for the new veneer to adhere properly.

Start with the sides of the cabinets.  Apply a thin film of wood glue to cabinet surface. Use a nail gun with 5/8-inch wire nails to fix the veneer in place.  Sink the nail heads just below the veneer surface.  To avoid a bubble in the middle of the panel, nail from top to bottom.  When all the side panels are in place, trim the veneer edges to match the old cabinet faces.

Then apply veneer to the cabinet fronts, doing all of the horizontal areas and rails first.  When all areas are done, trim the intersecting edges and corners to match them up with the sides.

Next, reface the cabinet doors, using the same procedure. Fill in any holes with wood putty colored to match your intended stain color.  Lightly sand to remove any excess after it has dried.

Step 2: Stain Cabinet Interiors.

Use a paintbrush or rag to stain the inside edges and openings first, then the sides, then the cabinet fronts.  Apply a generous coat, wipe away the excess, allow to dry according to the instructions, and then apply a second coat.  Then do the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, and any wood pieces or moldings.  Use a paintbrush to stain any crevices or corners.

Step 3: Finish Cabinets with Polyurethane.

Three coats of polyurethane will help protect your cabinets from heat and steam, grease splatters, and daily use.  Select a water based polyurethane as it dries faster and is odor free.

Using a brush, make sure your brush strokes are in the same direction as your wood grain or pattern.  When the first coat is dry, sand all surfaces with fine-grit sandpaper. Make sure surface is clear of sanding dust before applying second coat. Repeat steps for third and final coat.

Step 4: Reassemble the Cabinets.

Install the door hinges first.  Position each hinge one-hinge length from the bottom and top of the door.  Use a self-centering drill for the screw holes to set the right depth and not drill right through the door.  A shelf clamped to the bottom rail ensures all doors will be evenly hung.

Install door shock absorbers inside each cabinet opening.  These allow the doors to open and close smoothly.

For the drawers, install drawer pulls first. Either reattach old drawer slides or install new ones.  Full-extension slides add convenience and longevity.

For more home improvement tips or any other real estate related information, please contact us at 888-988-6248 or

About the Author

Brandon Lau grew up in Kailua and currently resides in Honolulu with his wife Andee and children Caylah, Elijah, and David. His eighteen years in real estate led him to become a Partner at ChaneyBrooks Choice Advisors. Over the past 10 years he has developed the team and systems that has created a high level of service and value for his clients.

What differentiates Brandon and his team is his consultative approach to real estate. He advises clients with relevant data and expert insight to help them make the best choices in real estate. Good choices in planning for long term dispositions, negotiating for the best price or knowing when not to pursue an investment are ways his consultative services will give you an advantage in the marketplace. His bottom line is providing service with the utmost integrity and expertise.