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In this video, This Old House host Kevin O'Connor helps a homeowner refinish his kitchen cabinets.

Steps for refinishing kitchen cabinets

  1. Make a sketch of the kitchen cabinets, then identify each door and drawer with a number.
  2. Place a small strip of masking tape onto each door and drawer, then mark the strips with the corresponding number shown on the sketch.
  3. Use a cordless drill to unscrew all the doors from the cabinets.
  4. Unscrew and remove the door hinges.
  5. Remove all the drawers from the cabinets.
  6. Use a putty knife to scrape any rubber bumpers from the back side of the doors.
  7. Unpeel the tape from one of the doors and then scrub its surface with a scouring pad dampened with deglosser. (If any doors or face frames have a coating of greasy, oily residue, wash them clean with hot, soapy water prior to deglossing.)
  8. Wipe down the door with a cotton rag soaked in clean water.
  9. Dry the door with a clean, dry cotton rag, then flip the door over.
  10. Repeat the previous two steps to degloss the back surface of the door.
  11. Cover appliances and counters with plastic-lined canvas drop cloths.
  12. Use the scouring pad and deglosser to scrub the surfaces of the face frames on the upper and lower cabinets.
  13. Wash the face frames clean with a water-soaked rag, then wipe the frames dry.
  14. Wait one hour before proceeding.
  15. Remove all the drawer faces, then degloss and wash each one.
  16. Protect the wall around the cabinets and all other adjacent surfaces with masking tape.
  17. Use a 2-inch-wide synthetic-bristle paintbrush to apply the first bond coat to all the cabinet doors, drawers, and face frames.
  18. Allow the first bond coat to dry for 2 hours.
  19. Flip over the doors and apply a bond coat to their back surfaces. Wait another two hours.
  20. Repeat the previous three steps to apply a second bond coat to both sides of each door and to the drawer faces and face frames.
  21. Brush on the protective top coat of polyurethane to all surfaces of the doors, drawers, and face frames. Allow the top coat to dry for 12 hours.
  22. Screw the hinges back onto the doors, then mount the doors to the cabinets.
  23. Install the door pulls.
  24. Reattach the drawer faces and slide the drawers back into the cabinets.