Kevin Dean | Kitchen Designer | Dean Cabinetry

By Kevin Dean

Can I refinish my cabinets?

We all know a fresh coat of paint will do wonders.  Whether it be your house, car, or kitchen cabinets, new paint breathes life back into the things we care about. Our phone often rings with customers asking, “Do you refinish kitchen cabinets?”  Recently, a customer called looking for someone to bring life back into her beloved wooden hutch. Knowing the natural wood grain was a bit outdated, she knew a coat of white paint would bring a modern feel to this piece.

Refacing or Refinishing Cabinets
Before Photo from a Dean Cabinetry Kitchen Remodel

Before installation begins, the space should be thoroughly prepped.  Working around cabinetry after they are installed can lead to accidental cabinet damage that will delay the project. This means everything that can be done should be done.  The cabinets are a final finish product. They are very visible in your home. All of the surfaces and edges will be seen when the installation is complete.

What is cabinet refinishing?

This is a process of redoing the finish on cabinetry.  It involves many steps including: removing the existing finish, preparing the surface, and applying a new finish.  It could also include upgrading functional parts of the cabinetry such as hinges or drawer slides. Many people consider refinishing when looking to upgrade their kitchen on a budget.  Another way to upgrade your kitchen look is with cabinet refacing.  

What is cabinet refacing?

This is the process of redoing the finish on cabinetry along with upgrading the style.  It involves all the steps of refinishing while also upgrading the hardware and replacing the doors and drawer fronts.  This gives the cabinetry an updated look with both style, color, and function.

Is cabinet refinishing or refacing worth it?

An inspection of the cabinetry should always be done to determine their value.  Surprisingly, people often find that replacing all the kitchen cabinets can be less expensive than refinishing them. In addition, you will have the flexibility to change the design, appliance locations, and cabinet accessories.  In a kitchen that is over 20 years old it is highly recommended to replace the cabinetry. Technology advances in hinges and drawer slides offer dramatic improvement that can increase your homes value.

Ensuring that a company will deliver the quality cabinet refinishing or refacing that you are looking for is not easy.  There are a few things to look out for and decisions to be made before you call. Here are a few questions to consider before moving forward with the refinishing process:

Spice Cabinet | Refacing or Refinishing Cabinets?
Dean Cabinetry Spice Pullout Cabinet Adds Functionality


  • Do I want a brushed or a smooth finish?  
  • Do I want multiple colors? 
  • Do I need additional painting done in the house?
  • Do I want a faux finish?


  • How much do I want to spend?
  • Do I want a professional cabinet refinisher or a regular painter?

If cabinet refinishing is something you decide to move forward with, a good company will offer the following:

  • Completely refinished kitchen doors, drawers, frames, and other parts.
  • Brand new doors, drawer fronts, and panels, while refinishing the frames and other parts.
  • Upgrading the cabinetry hardware (hinges and drawer slides).
  • Additional cabinets to match

How much does it cost to refinish cabinets?

Any of these options will provide a brand new look at a price.  The pricing for each can vary. Some companies will provide a price for the entire scope of work.  While others will charge based on time and materials. No matter how they present the pricing to the client their pricing will be based on the amount of time it takes to refinish or reface the cabinetry plus the materials needed.  It is also common to add a markup to this price to ensure profitability. If you want to know how much your project will cost, consider how large your kitchen is. The more doors, drawers, and painted panels will drive up the cost.  Simply refinishing the cabinets will be less expensive and adding new doors or hardware will always be more expensive, but it will provide a new style and feel to the kitchen. The exact cost of your project will be unique to your cabinetry needs.

We always recommend that clients get a price for refacing and refinishing as well as a price for new cabinetry.  Clients are often surprised how inexpensive brand new kitchen cabinetry can be.

Fabuwood Stock Cabinetry versus refinishing or refacing cabinets
Fabuwood stock cabinetry is a great, affordable option for new cabinets.

How to refinish cabinets?

In terms of the actual refinishing process, some companies may do all the refinishing on site while others may do it in their shop.  The most important thing is to pay attention to the sanding preparation.

First, all the finished parts need to be thoroughly sanded. We recommend sanding them to at least 150 grit for paint and 220 grit for stain.  This will ensure that the primer or stain will have good mechanical adhesion.

For paint, the surfaces will then receive two coats of primer followed by two coats of paint.  A light sand with 400 grit should be done in between all coats. For stain, the surface will be stained and receive two clear coats.  Like paint, a light sand with 400 grit should be done in between all coats.

It is very important that sanding be done.  Mechanical adhesion is the most sure form. Imagine refinishing your cabinets and having the paint peel off a few years later. Make sure your refinisher sands thoroughly.

For a brush coat finish, you may be able to hire a traditional painter.  This look is a much older style that fits well in traditional kitchens and may be less expensive. It is important to note that the company you hire should have a clean image.  Working with paint can get messy fast. A quality company will tape off all surfaces to make sure they do not get paint on them.  Cleaning up can be a daunting task so make sure they prepare properly.

When your refinishing is complete your cabinets will appear brand new once again!  You can begin to use your space with its new look and feel.

Although Dean Cabinetry would love to be able to offer cabinet refinishing, unfortunately, this is an area where we are not experts in.  Our expertise is designing and installing new cabinetry, which surprisingly is quite different from refinishing existing cabinets. However, we’re happy to help in any way we can.

There are many companies in the Connecticut area that we are happy to recommend to you.  Here are two below.  We’ve included links to their websites, as well as their location and contact information.

West Hartford Finishing
Located in West Hartford, CT. This company has 20 years of experience and uses top of the line materials.  They will replace doors, hinges, etc. and use solid wood panels. They have great reviews! Here is link to their website: whfinishing.com

Wood n’ Excellence

Located in Middletown, CT.  This company has been in business for 43 years.  They have a physical shop where they can refinish as well as build additional cabinetry.  They offer only refacing and hardware upgrades. They offer painted and stained finishes. They are also happy to help with countertops.  Their goal is to stay small and hands on, always putting the client first. They don’t use subcontractors. Here is a link to their website: woodnexcellence.com