• Lauren Vallario Designs

How to Refinish Cabinets… Without Sanding Them!

In addition to designing spaces for my clients, I love to work on projects of my own. Over the course of almost 12 years, I did many projects in our old house. I didn’t document all of them but this was one that I did that I thought was easy but made such a big impact.

In our old house, I used our 4th bedroom as my office. The room was small but it was all I needed. Because the house itself was smaller, it also served other purposes. We used to throw things in there that we didn’t know what to do with. I am sure many of you have one of these rooms or “spots” in your home where you do the same.

When I started my business about 7 years ago, I was working on a kitchen renovation. The client had these great pantry cabinets that they initially planned on keeping and putting in their garage for storage. At the end of the renovation, they decided they didn’t need them. They were great quality cabinets, not necessarily my style, but awesome storage which is something we needed. So, I asked the client if I could take them. Fortunately, they said yes! I took them home and hired one of the carpenters I work with to install them for me in my office. These cabinets quickly became my lifesaver. I was able to store so much in them for both work and personal stuff. The one thing that didn’t work for me was the color. While they were beautifully constructed, natural pine is not really my style. It combined with my natural oak floors was really too much orang-y/yellow for me. I refinished my kitchen cabinets so I knew I could do it but I had already loaded the cabinets up with all of my stuff and really didn’t want to have to figure out where to put it while I worked on this project. After some research, I decided to try a different approach, refinish them without sanding. I know, it’s basically a sin but I did it and it worked!

Here are the cabinets after they were installed.

I started by taking all of the doors and hinges off and bringing them to my garage where I would be working on them later on. Then I taped off everything using blue painters tape to protect the areas I didn’t want to get paint on.

Next, I sprayed all of the areas with Krud Kutter Cleaner/Degreaser that I purchased at Home Depot. I always use this product to clean my cabinets before I prime them. It has TSP in it but it’s not as harsh as straight TSP. It does a great job of removing grease and grime that builds up over time.

After I gave the cabinets a good cleaning, I then applied some liquid sandpaper to them using a clean white cloth (basically an old t-shirt). This stuff is pretty awesome if you really don’t want to sand the finish of your wood. You wipe it in and let it dry. It creates an adhesion on the surface for the paint to stick to. One word of advice, make sure you cover all surfaces that you are not wanting to de-gloss. If you drop this on hardwood floors are another piece of furniture you run the risk of etching it. So just make sure you wear rubber gloves and protect all surfaces.

After I wiped all of the boxes down, I let everything dry for 24 hours (maybe longer because I didn’t have time to continue) before I moved on to the next step. Stay tuned as I continue this series on how to refinish cabinets without sanding them down!

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