Cabinet Doors Lowes

Refinishing and Cleaning Kitchen Cabinets

Heat, water, grease and food residue can take their toll on your kitchen cabinets. You might be surprised what a good scrubbing can do. When you're ready to clean your cabinets, have the following on hand:

  1. Label or number the cabinet doors if you remove them so you'll put them back in the right place. (If you're sanding or painting, don't sand off or paint over the marks.) The holes for the hinges (door and frame) need to match too, so you can easily determine which door goes where.

  2. Lay plenty of drop cloths to protect countertops, appliances and floors.
  3. Wear gloves and eye protection when using a cleaner such as TSP (trisodium phosphate).
  4. Clean thoroughly, following the cleaner's instructions. Keep a clean surface of the cloth in contact with the cabinet for best results.
  5. Rinse the cabinets. If the rinse water looks dirty, repeat the cleaning process.
  6. Allow the wood to dry.

Adding Moulding to Cabinets

You can dress up drab cabinet doors with moulding. Applying a contrasting finish or color is a quick and inexpensive way to change the look of your kitchen. Keep the following safety tips in mind when you add moulding:

  • Always apply finishing materials in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wear eye protection and rubber gloves to prevent exposure to finishing materials.

Stripping and Refinishing Cabinets

If your cabinets still don't look spectacular after cleaning, you may have to refinish or paint them. The cabinet-refinishing process is similar to the one for refinishing furniture.

Unless you're planning to take your cabinets down, there are a few extra things to remember. As you've already discovered from cleaning, working with cabinets in place on the wall can be messy and awkward. Liquid strippers work best, but use the gel or semipaste types. They won't drip as much when used on vertical surfaces. However, before you can buy the proper stripper, you'll need to find out what kind of finish is on your cabinets.

The original finish is one of several possible materials. Most of them look identical to an untrained eye. Use the chart below to determine what type of finish you have. Find an inconspicuous spot on the wood to perform the tests.

If You Suspect
Your Finish Is

Determine By


Put a few drops of turpentine on the wood. If the finish dissolves, it's wax-based.


Apply a few drops of denatured alcohol. If the finish dissolves quickly, it's shellac.

Lacquer or Shellac

Try a few drops of lacquer thinner to dissolve.

Water-Based Finish

A few drops of Xylene liquefies water-based finishes.

Polyurethane or Varnish

Paint / varnish remover strips these materials, but you'll probably still have to sand some of the old finish off.

Other Finishes You May Encounter (and What to Do About Them)

Penetrating Oil

The product does just what its name says, so nothing can remove it. The color isn't strippable since it's become part of the wood. If the wood is dry, it can be clear-coated, waxed or painted.


Determine whether the paint is oil-based or water-based (latex).

Rub a rag or cotton ball moistened with denatured alcohol on the paint surface. If it rubs off or gets soft, it's latex. Alcohol won't affect oil paint.

Latex paint can be applied over oil if the old surface has been lightly sanded and properly primed.

Vinyl-Covered or Formica Surfaces

Don't attempt to paint or refinish. A professional should refinish cabinets surfaced with these materials.

Always let the stripping agent do the work. These products are relatively easy to use. But if you're not an experienced refinisher, you may want to start with an inconspicuous area or door. Remember to keep countertops, appliances and floors covered when stripping and refinishing.

After stripping and before refinishing or painting, patch any conspicuous holes, scratches and nicks with wood filler. When dry, sand lightly to smooth out the patch. Before painting, sand lightly and prime.

Note: Before you decide to paint floating-panel cabinet doors, remember that the wood expands and contracts with the seasons. This will cause the paint bead to separate and expose unpainted wood.

Good to Know

Before undertaking refinishing, remind yourself that it takes a lot of time and effort. Also, remember that your kitchen may be out of commission for a while.

Home-Aide 40pc 3/8" Surface Saver Plastic Adhesive Bumper Pads - Protects Floors & Furniture
Home Improvement (Home-Aide)
  • Protect furniture, cabinets, doors, walls and more with invisible clear protectors
  • Soft plastic absorbs bumps & cushions impact that would cause dents or marks; reduces noise
  • Strong peel-&-stick adhesive backing attaches instantly to finished wood, metal, glass or tile
  • Can also be used as bottom pads for furniture, office & computer equipment, picture frames & artwork
  • Keeps objects from moving & dampens vibration; 3/8 diameter x 7/32 height, set of 40 bumpers
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  • Hole Centers: 3-3/4 (96mm)
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