20 Cabinet Refinishing Options: Upgrade Your Kitchen Today

Last updated on November 6, 2023

Discover all fantastic cabinet refinishing options to transform your kitchen or bathroom. Breathe new life into your space with these creative and budget-friendly ideas.

Are you tired of looking at your old, worn-out cabinets but don’t want to spend a fortune on replacing them? Well, you’re in luck! There are plenty of affordable and creative ways to give your cabinets a new lease on life.

In this article, we’ll explore 20 cabinet refinishing options that will transform your kitchen or bathroom without breaking the bank.

From painting and staining to adding hardware and decorative accents, these ideas will inspire you to get started on your cabinet makeover project today! So grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive into the world of budget-friendly cabinet refinishing.

Paint

cabinet repaint

Paint is one of the most popular and affordable ways to refinish cabinets. It can completely transform the look of your kitchen or bathroom without breaking the bank.

You can choose from a wide range of colors, finishes, and techniques to achieve your desired look.

Before painting, it’s important to clean and sand down any rough spots on your cabinets. Then you’ll want to prime them with a high-quality primer before applying paint for better adhesion.

For a classic look, consider using white or cream-colored paint on traditional-style cabinetry. If you’re looking for something more modern or bold, try using bright colors like blue or green.

You could also experiment with different textures by adding layers of glaze over painted surfaces for an antique effect that adds depth and character.

Stain

Mahogany Cabinet Stain

It can give your cabinets a rich, natural look that enhances the beauty of the wood grain. Staining works best on unfinished or lightly finished wood surfaces and comes in various shades to match any decor style.

Before staining, it’s important to prepare the surface by sanding it down and removing any existing finish or paint. Once you’ve done this, apply the stain with a brush or cloth in long even strokes following the direction of the grain.

After applying one coat of stain, let it dry completely before adding additional coats until you achieve your desired color depth. Finish off with polyurethane sealer for added protection against wear and tear.

Distress

Distressed Teal Cabinet

This method involves creating intentional imperfections on the surface of the cabinet, such as scratches, dents, and chipped paint. To achieve this effect, you can use sandpaper or a wire brush to remove some of the paint or stain from areas that would naturally experience wear and tear over time.

You can also add additional distressing by using tools like hammers or chains to create small dents in strategic places on your cabinets.

One benefit of distressing is that it allows you to give new life to old cabinets without having to completely refinish them. It’s also relatively easy and inexpensive compared with other refinishing options.

When distressing your cabinets, be sure not to go overboard – too much damage will make them look shabby rather than chic! Start slowly by adding small amounts of wear in key areas before stepping back and assessing how they look overall.

Glaze

Pecan Glaze Cabinet Stain

It involves applying a thin layer of glaze over the existing paint or stain, which settles into the crevices and grooves of the woodwork, highlighting its texture. Glazes come in various colors such as brown, black or white; you can choose one that complements your kitchen’s color scheme.

To apply glaze on cabinets, first clean them thoroughly with soap water and let them dry completely. Then mix equal parts of glazing liquid with paint (latex or oil-based) in a disposable container until it reaches your desired consistency.

Using a brush or rag, apply this mixture onto small sections at once while wiping off excess before it dries.

Once done with all sections allow 24 hours for drying time before adding any additional coats if needed. Finally seal everything using polyurethane to protect against wear-and-tear from daily use.

Chalk Paint

Sage Green

It creates a matte, velvety finish that gives furniture an aged and vintage look. Chalk paint adheres well to most surfaces without the need for sanding or priming, making it an easy DIY project.

One of the benefits of using chalk paint on cabinets is its versatility in color options. You can choose from a wide range of colors and shades to match your decor style perfectly.

To achieve different looks with chalk paint, you can use various techniques such as distressing or layering multiple colors. After painting your cabinets with chalk paint, you may want to seal them with wax or polyurethane for added durability.

Whitewash

Wood Grain

This technique involves applying a thin layer of white paint or diluted white paint to the surface of the wood, allowing some of the natural grain and texture to show through. Whitewashing works particularly well on cabinets with visible wood grain or knots.

To achieve this look, start by cleaning and sanding your cabinets thoroughly. Then mix equal parts water and white latex paint in a container until you get the desired consistency (you may need more or less water depending on how thick you want your whitewash).

Apply the mixture evenly over each cabinet panel using long strokes with a brush or roller.

Once dry, lightly sand any areas where too much color has been applied for an even finish. You can also add additional coats if needed until you reach your desired level of coverage.

Two-tone Colors

Two Tone kitchen

This technique involves painting the upper or lower cabinets in one color, while the other set of cabinets is painted in a contrasting color. For example, you could paint your upper cabinets white and your lower ones navy blue for a classic nautical look.

Alternatively, you could choose two complementary shades such as light gray and pale yellow for an understated yet elegant effect.

To achieve this look, start by selecting two colors that work well together. Then decide which set of cabinets will be painted with each color – it’s usually best to keep the darker shade on bottom if possible so that it doesn’t overwhelm the space visually.

Once you’ve chosen your colors and designated which areas will be painted with each hue, tape off any areas that won’t be getting paint (such as walls or countertops) using painter’s tape. Then apply primer followed by at least two coats of paint per cabinet section using either brushes or rollers depending on preference.

Faux Finish

Custom Carved Designs cabinet kitchen

This technique involves using paint or glaze to create the appearance of another material, such as wood grain or marble. Faux finishes can be achieved through various methods, including sponging, rag rolling, and stippling.

To achieve a faux finish on your cabinets, start by cleaning them thoroughly and removing any hardware. Then apply a base coat of paint in the desired color.

Once dry, use either glaze or another shade of paint mixed with glazing medium to create the desired effect.

For example, if you want your cabinets to have a wood grain appearance you can use brown-toned paints for this purpose while applying it with different tools like brushes etc., depending upon what kind of texture you want on it.

Crackle Effect

To achieve this effect, you will need to apply a base coat of paint or stain followed by a crackle medium. Once the crackle medium has dried, you can apply another layer of paint or stain on top.

As the second layer dries, it will start to crack and reveal the base coat underneath.

The size and pattern of cracks depend on various factors such as thickness of layers applied, drying time between coats etc., so experiment with different techniques until you find one that works for your desired outcome.

This technique is perfect for those who want to add some character to their kitchen without spending too much money on new cabinets.

Gel Stain

Cabinet LED Lighting

Gel stains are thicker than traditional liquid stains and provide better coverage with fewer coats. They also don’t drip or run as much as liquid stains, making them easier to apply.

To use gel stain on your cabinets, start by cleaning and sanding the surfaces thoroughly. Then apply a thin coat of gel stain using a brush or rag in long strokes following the direction of the wood grain.

Allow it to dry completely before applying additional coats until you achieve your desired depth of color.

One advantage of using gel stain is that it can be applied over existing finishes without stripping them first – just make sure they’re clean and free from any wax or polish residue beforehand for best results.

Laminate Refacing

Ledges

Laminate is available in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can choose one that complements your kitchen or bathroom decor.

To reface your cabinets with laminate, start by removing the cabinet doors and hardware. Then clean the surfaces thoroughly to remove any dirt or grease.

Next, measure each surface carefully and cut the new laminate sheets to size using a utility knife.

Apply contact cement to both the back of the laminates as well as on cabinet surfaces where they will be installed. Once it dries out (usually within 15-20 minutes), press firmly onto each surface starting from one end working towards another while ensuring there are no air bubbles trapped underneath.

Beadboard Inserts

Sheer Shades

Beadboard is a type of paneling that features evenly spaced grooves or beads, creating a classic look that works well in many different styles of homes. You can purchase beadboard panels at most home improvement stores and cut them to size for your cabinet doors.

Simply remove the center panel from each door, attach the beadboard with adhesive or small nails, then paint or stain as desired. This is an easy DIY project that can completely transform the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank!

Glass Door Inserts

Glass Shelf Lighting kitchen

This is an easy and affordable way to give your kitchen a fresh new look without having to replace the entire cabinet. Glass door inserts come in various styles such as clear, frosted or textured glass.

Clear glass doors can be used for displaying beautiful dishes or decorative items while frosted or textured ones add privacy and hide cluttered shelves. You can also choose from different shapes like square, rectangular or arched depending on the style of your cabinets.

To install these inserts, you will need to remove the center panel of each cabinet door and replace it with the chosen piece of glass using silicone adhesive. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, hire a professional carpenter who has experience working with cabinetry.

Replacing Hardware

Stained Cabinet for kitchen

Swapping out old, outdated knobs and pulls for new ones can completely transform the look of your cabinets. There are countless options available, from sleek modern designs to vintage-inspired styles.

When choosing new hardware, consider the overall style of your kitchen or bathroom and choose something that complements it well. Make sure you measure the distance between screw holes on existing hardware so that you can find replacements with matching measurements for easy installation.

With just a few dollars spent on new knobs or pulls, you’ll be amazed at how much fresher and updated your cabinets will look!

Open Shelving

bathroom sink Open-shelving cabinet

This is an easy DIY project that can be done in just a few hours. Simply remove the cabinet doors, sand down any rough edges or surfaces, and paint or stain the shelves to match your existing cabinets.

Not only does this option create visual interest by breaking up solid cabinetry with negative space but it also allows for easy access to frequently used items like plates, glasses or bowls. Plus it’s budget-friendly as you don’t have to purchase new cabinets!

Decorative Molding

Wire Mesh Fronts kitchen cabinets

You can choose from a variety of styles, such as crown molding, dentil molding, or rope trim. Installing decorative molding requires some woodworking skills and tools but it’s not too difficult for the average DIYer.

To install decorative moldings on your cabinet doors or drawers, you will need to measure the length of each piece needed and cut them accordingly with a saw. Then apply wood glue along the backside of each piece before attaching it onto your cabinet surface using finishing nails.

Once installed, you can paint or stain the moldings in any color that complements your decor style.

Wallpaper Application

Kitchen Island With Storage

This can be a great way to add texture and pattern to your kitchen or bathroom without breaking the bank. There are many different types of wallpaper available, from traditional floral prints to modern geometric designs.

To apply wallpaper, start by cleaning and sanding the surface of your cabinets. Then measure each cabinet panel carefully and cut a piece of wallpaper slightly larger than the panel itself.

Apply adhesive directly onto the backside of the paper or use pre-pasted options.

Smooth out any air bubbles with a squeegee tool as you go along, making sure that there are no wrinkles or creases in the paper before moving on to another section.

Once all panels have been covered with wallpaper let it dry completely before trimming off excess material around edges using an X-Acto knife for precision cuts if needed.

Metallic Accents

Puck Light kitchen

You can use metallic paints or foils to create a variety of effects, from subtle shimmer to bold metallic finishes. One popular option is using gold leafing on the edges of cabinet doors for an elegant touch.

Another idea is adding metal hardware with unique designs or finishes, such as brushed nickel or copper handles and knobs. For those who want something more daring, consider applying a metallic finish over the entire cabinet surface for an eye-catching statement piece in your home decor scheme.

Whatever you choose, incorporating some metallic accents into your cabinet refinishing project will surely elevate its overall look and feel!

Rustic Barn Wood

Wood Stain butcher block

This option is perfect for those who love the natural beauty of wood with its knots, cracks, and imperfections. You can use reclaimed barn wood or purchase new boards that have been distressed to give them an aged appearance.

To achieve this look, start by removing all cabinet doors and hardware. Sand down any rough spots on the surface of the cabinets before applying a coat of primer.

Once dry, apply a layer of paint in your desired color (white or light gray work well) followed by sanding along edges to create worn areas.

Next comes the fun part: adding pieces of rustic barnwood! Cut boards into various sizes depending on where they will be placed on each cabinet door front panel; then attach them using construction adhesive glue or nails if preferred.

Color Blocking

Rope Light Accents kitchen cabinet

This technique can be applied to cabinets by painting each cabinet door with different colors, creating an interesting visual effect. For example, you could paint the upper cabinets in one color and the lower ones in another color.

Alternatively, you could choose one dominant color for your cabinets and use a contrasting hue for accents such as handles or knobs. Color blocking is an excellent way to add personality and character to your kitchen without breaking the bank on expensive materials or labor costs.

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