Cabinet refinishing options

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Forum topic by Sirgreggins posted 09-01-2013 06:23 PM 910 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Sirgreggins's profile


299 posts in 2229 days

09-01-2013 06:23 PM

Hey guys, my mom wants me to refinish her kitchen cabinets this winter. The finish is just a bit dull but she wants to add a bit more of a sheen (semi gloss) to bring new life to them. The Watco rejuvenating oil just didnt do it for her. They are stained so i don’t want to sand to bare wood and re stain them. I was wondering if i should just lightly sand them just enough to scuff the surface and spray with some dewaxed shellac and then topcoat with arm r seal or other polyurethane. Good/bad system? I can send pictures if you’d like to see the actual condition of the finish. Not sure what to do here. All i know is that we are NOT re staining them. Just simply refinish the topcoat.

8 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4980 posts in 2487 days

#1 posted 09-01-2013 06:44 PM

You can do that, but I would do a little more than scuff and seal. Usually a refinishing job (especially in the kitchen) starts with a thorough (repeat that: THOROUGH) cleaning to remove the grease/wax/whatever that has settled on them over the years. Then if you use a dewaxed shellac there is really no need to scuff sand, and that might introduce scratches you’ll have to deal with later. I would try your plan out on the back of a door, or some spot that won’t be a problem and see if you are satisfied with the look.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2355 days

#2 posted 09-01-2013 07:21 PM

If they ain’t high-end cabinets, I wouldn’t even think about refinishing. A good (Behr) semi-gloss latex/acrylic is the way to go. If they’re furniture grade, do it right by stripping first.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

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299 posts in 2229 days

#3 posted 09-01-2013 10:08 PM

They are high quality cherry cabinets. They’re just 27 yrs old.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1886 days

#4 posted 09-02-2013 04:05 AM

If you can remove the cabinets and refinish them lying flat, just a thorough cleaning/degreasing and 3M/Scotch-brite pad or 400-grit hand sanding should be enough to adhere 1 or 2 coats of brushed-on or sprayed-on semi-gloss polyurethane, IMO. And as Fred above has recommended, try it out on 1 or 2 cabinet backsides first. The shellac coat certainly is more of a best practice step but perhaps unnecessary for a simple sheen refinish.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

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299 posts in 2229 days

#5 posted 09-03-2013 03:38 AM

thanks redSLED, any cleaner(s) to recommend for this?

View Finisherman's profile


227 posts in 1843 days

#6 posted 09-03-2013 05:58 AM

I would clean the cabinets using a two step process. First, wash the cabinets thoroughly with warm water and a mild detergent to remove and food spatters and grease. Allow the surface to dry. Next, use VM&P Naphtha with plenty of paper towels to remove wax as well as any remaining traces of grease. Remember that the naphtha is flammable, so turn off any pilot lights, as well as any motors which can spark when they cycle on and off. Of course, make sure to also provide good ventilation.

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299 posts in 2229 days

#7 posted 09-03-2013 12:56 PM

I appreciate the help!

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299 posts in 2229 days

#8 posted 09-05-2013 04:09 PM

I went to the library yesterday and got some Fine woodworking magazines. One of them happened to have an article saying that the “pros” seal their cabinets with a Vinyl sealer and then topcoat. It said that the vinyl sealer has all the good same properties of shellac but is more durable and really seals the wood from heat/ humidity. I’ve never heard of this. Can anyone comment on it? I wonder if this sealer works under a urethane finish.

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