How To Strip Your Cabinets In Preparation For Custom Doors

Are you tired of looking at the same outdated kitchen cabinets that you've been looking at for years? Do you want to update the look of your cabinets without breaking your budget? Well, you can do it. If the cabinets are in solid condition, you can have new custom cabinets doors made to match the existing cabinetry. Instead of ripping everything out and replacing it, you'll just have to do a little prep-work, take some measurements and work with a skilled custom cabinet company. Here, you'll learn how to strip the existing cabinetry to make it easier to match the colors perfectly.

Supply List

  • High-quality paint stripper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Fine steel wool
  • Stiff bristled toothbrush
  • Hemp string
  • Plastic scraping tool (putty knife)
  • Garbage bags
  • Tarps or drop cloths
  • Screwdriver
  • Slow cooker

Step 1: Remove the Cabinet Doors

Get your screwdriver out and begin removing all of the cabinet doors. Label each door with a number along with the cabinet opening from where you removed it. This will help you coordinate the new doors with the right opening later.

Step 2: Clean the Hardware

If you plan to reuse the hardware, you'll need to get it all good and clean. If the hardware is painted and you'd like to remove the paint, you can do it fairly easily. All you need to do is get an old slow cooker, put the hardware inside and cover the hardware with water. Turn the slow cooker on high and let it sit for a day or two.

Soon, the paint will begin to peel right off of the hardware, and you'll be left with hardware that just needs a good buffing.

Step 3: Protect the Kitchen

Before you begin applying any stripper, make sure to cover anything that could become damaged with tarps, plastic bags and tape it all in place. This will be a fairly long process, so if you tape the coverings into place, you won't have to worry about readjusting them each time you're ready to start working.

Step 4: Apply the Stripper

Don't be skimpy with the stripper. Apply a generous amount of stripper to the cabinets, working in small sections. After you have the stripper applied, cover it with plastic wrap. This will keep the stripper from drying before it has broken down the paint that you're trying to strip off of the cabinets.

Wait a day or so before removing the plastic wrap and continuing to the next step.

Step 5: Remove the Paint

Now, work in small sections, only removing the plastic wrap from the section that you are working on at that time. If the paint doesn't peel right off of the cabinets, cover it back up with the stripper coated plastic wrap and let it sit for another day.

Use a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies. Cracks that you can't get clean with the toothbrush can be cleaned using hemp rope – use the same techniques with the hemp rope as you would flossing your teeth.

Step 6: Finish Up

Now that everything is stripped, go over the entire surface with fine steel wool. This will remove the remaining paint and leave the finish perfectly smooth.

If you don't feel comfortable taking on a project such as this, talk with your local custom cabinetry professionals for assistance. 

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