Kitchen DIY: Part 1 – Refinishing Oak Cabinets

SO, this was definitely the most time consuming and labor intensive part of our kitchen remodel, but it also saved us the most money and is totally worth spending the time to do it right. I can’t recall how many times I asked my husband if we could cheat a little here or there, but in the end, I am so glad he always gave me a firm, “No.” They look amazing and totally change the look of the entire kitchen.

Here is the before:

Three Whims: DIY how to refinish oak cabinets

We went above and beyond in filling in the wood grain, so they wouldn’t look like painted oak cabinets. Here are the steps:

  1. Empty drawers
  2. Number drawers and doors (so you know which ones went where and can fit them back into place) – we used painters tape with written numbers
  3. Take drawers out, doors off, and remove all hardware
  4. Clean the wood with a sponge dipped in alcohol diluted with waterThree Whims: DIY how to refinish oak cabinets
  5. Fill in the grain – this was by far the most time consuming and painful step. We tried a number of products and methods until we settled on using drywall compound (fortunately, this was also the cheapest method we tried). We also tried applying it different ways, and found that the most effective way was just to smear it on really thick with your fingers, making sure to get it into all of the little corners and gaps in the grain.The thicker you put it on originally, the better chance of only having to do it once.Three Whims: DIY how to refinish oak cabinets
  6. Sand it smooth. The best test to see if it is actually smooth, is to close your eyes while running your fingers down the wood. We used 220 sandpaper for this.Three Whims: DIY how to refinish oak cabinetsThree Whims: DIY how to refinish oak cabinets
  7. Wipe with a dry towel to remove dust
  8. Prime (we did 3 coats with sanding in between each coat – 220 and 320 sandpaper). We brushed all of the spots a roller wouldn’t reach and rolled everything we could.
  9. Paint (we did 3 coats with sanding any imperfections in between each coat – 320 sandpaper). We brushed all of the spots a roller wouldn’t reach and rolled everything we could.
  10. Polycrylic Protective Finish (we did 4 coats). We brushed this on to apply.Three Whims: DIY how to refinish oak cabinets
  11. Put your kitchen back together and throw yourself a party for surviving the ordeal.

Here is the after result (adding in the granite and back-splash, of course), and we couldn’t love it more!

Three Whims: DIY how to refinish oak cabinets

For more after pictures, see my reveal post here.

Kisses,

Brunette

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9 thoughts on “Kitchen DIY: Part 1 – Refinishing Oak Cabinets

  1. Pingback: The BIG Reveal – Our DIY Kitchen Remodel – three whims

  2. Pingback: Kitchen DIY: Part 2 โ€“ Our DIY Kitchen Island – three whims

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