How to Give Your Kitchen Cabinets a Makeover

Refinishing your worn kitchen cabinets can be a cost-saving alternative to replacing them.

More Ways to Update Your Cabinets 01:00

See how simple it is to add glass or even designs to your cabinet doors.
hdswt302_1cb_AFTER_KitchenCabinets

hdswt302_1cb_AFTER_KitchenCabinets

Dark stain on the cabinets provides a warmer, more inviting feel for the kitchen.

Materials and Tools:

wood stain (2 gallons)
assorted sandpapers
cordless drill; magnetic screw tip
orbital sander
router
v-groove router bit

hdswt302_1ca_BEFORE_KitchenCabinets

hdswt302_1ca_BEFORE_KitchenCabinets

Before: The light wood stain gave the kitchen a dated look.

Tip: When removing cabinet doors, it's easy to lose track of hardware, fasteners and other small pieces. If you'll be reusing the hardware, make sure to keep it together in a safe place — such as in zip-lock bags. Label the pieces clearly for eady identification for when it's time to reinstall. Also, as you remove the doors, it's a good idea to label them in such a way that will make it easy to reinstall them later in their proper location.

Steps:

hdswt302_1fa_remove-doors

hdswt302_1fa_remove-doors

1. Using a cordless drill with screwdriver attachment, remove the cabinet doors.

hdswt302_1fb_cabinet-doors

hdswt302_1fb_cabinet-doors

2. Use painter's tape and a marker to label each removed door, and each corresponding door-opening, so that they can be properly matched up later during reinstallation.

3. Rout grooves in the doors. With the doors removed, we opted to create grooves in our solid wood doors to change the look. Using a table router and v-groove bit, cut a groove around the perimeter of the door, 1 3/4 inch in from the outside edge.

hdswt302_1fc_darken-groove2

hdswt302_1fc_darken-groove2

4. Apply stain to the newly cut grooves before sanding the doors. By staining the grooves before sanding the original finish off the door, the groove will ultimately be stained darker for an accent look. Using this technique, after sanding we will stain the entire door, including the groove, so the groove will be extra dark.

hdswt302_1fd_sand-doors2

hdswt302_1fd_sand-doors2

5. Sand the doors. Once the stain in the grooves has dried, sand the old finish off the door. Since we're going darker, we don't need to get to the bare wood. Just work on getting the shiny polyurethane off.

hdswt302_1fe_stain-doors

hdswt302_1fe_stain-doors

6. Stain the doors. Apply two to three coats of stain, allowing cure time between applications according to the stain manufacturer's directions.

Note: For this project, we used a mahogany stain that incorporates a polyurethane sealer. In that way, the stain and sealer goes on in one step.

hdswt302_1ff_stained-doors

hdswt302_1ff_stained-doors

7. Once the final coat has been applied, allow the stain finish to dry fully.

8. Sand and stain the faces of the cabinets using the same sanding and staining techniques as for the doors.

Tip: When sanding with an orbital sander, always sand with the grain.

9. Once the stain on the cabinets and doors has cured fully, simply reinstall the door hardware and re-hang the doors.

Next Up

Staining Kitchen Cabinets

Check out these easy tips for transforming your kitchen cabinets into beautiful showpieces through the process of staining.

Restaining Kitchen Cabinets

Explore your options for restaining kitchen cabinets, and get all the info you'll need to give your kitchen a stylish facelift.

How to Paint Cabinets

Use these easy steps to update a kitchen by painting the cabinets.

Distressed and Antiqued Kitchen Cabinets

Add cottage-style charm to white painted cabinets by distressing then applying antiquing glaze. This quick and easy project will give builder basic cabinets a custom look in no time.

Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets

Browse helpful info on unfinished kitchen cabinets, and sort through options for staining, painting or leaving them in their natural state.

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Get a budget-friendly way to update your kitchen cabinets with paint and a simple glaze treatment.

Update Kitchen Cabinets With Glass Inserts

With these easy, step-by-step instructions, anyone can quickly and inexpensively transform builder-grade cabinet doors into beautiful, custom-looking glass insert doors.

How to Stain Furniture

To give a room a cohesive feel, try staining all the furniture the same color.

Kitchen Catch-Up: How to Install Cabinets

Installing kitchen cabinets is a great way to save money on a kitchen renovation.

How to Stain a Wooden Deck

Enrich a wooden deck in just a few simple steps using deck stain.

Catch Up With Our Blogs

We're serving up the latest news, gorgeous style, DIY projects, clever entertaining tips & more.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.