Refinishing kitchen or bathroom cabinets is a cost-effective way to give old, worn-out cabinets a like-new appearance while also improving the overall look of the space. For your prospects or customers who don’t have the budget to completely replace their cabinets, refinishing the cabinets is a great way to give them the kitchen or bathroom of their dreams—but without the crazy price tag.

As a professional refinisher, and with the right products and equipment, you can learn how to refinish cabinets simply and quickly—without stripping them. Here’s how!

How to Refinish Cabinets Without Stripping – Step by Step

Refinishing kitchen or bathroom cabinets doesn’t have to be a hassle. Follow these simple steps to refinish cabinets without stripping them.

Step 1: Prep the Cabinets

Removing the cabinets before refinishing them is the old school way and very, very time consuming.

Instead, remove all cabinet hardware including handles and knobs. Tape off all hinges. Mask off around the cabinets and inside the cabinets if you are not spraying the inside. Remove everything inside the cabinets and drawers if you will be spraying inside the cabinets.

Taping and masking are key! Take a little extra time on the masking and it saves you not only hours but days on the job!

Step 2: Thoroughly Clean the Cabinets

All areas should be cleaned and free of any grease, dirt, dust, oils, waxes, mold, mildew, or other surface contaminants. Surfaces should all be cleaned prior to sanding and deglossing to prevent any dirt or other contaminants from being driven into the surface. Remove any loose paint that’s chipped, peeled, or cracked with scraping or sanding.

Step 3: Sand & Degloss the Cabinets

There are two ways to do this; it’s ultimately the refinishers choice.

Sand & Degloss by Hand

Sand the surfaces that are to be refinished using medium grit sandpaper (150 to 220). Clean the cabinets again to remove all the surface dust.

Apply Liquid Sandpaper Deglosser & Degreaser

Sanding and deglossing the cabinets by hand with sandpaper is very time consuming—not to mention a lot of work. Additionally, there will be a lot of dust to clean up if you choose to go that route.

Instead, use liquid sandpaper from the hardware store. Apply the liquid sandpaper deglosser and degreaser with a cheese cloth and save a ton of time!

Step 4: Apply Coatings to the Cabinets

When you use coatings such as NAPCO Essentials Kitchen Renew Cabinet Coatings, there’s no mixing, it is used out the bottle the way it is, and it has its own built-in primer. The coatings also have a very low VOC level, very minimal smell, and can be tinted to any color.

Kitchen Renew Cabinet Coating was specifically formulated to apply using an HVLP system with a #3 (1.3 mil) needle to ensure proper flow, excellent sprayability, and no sag for a factory-like finish. After masking hardware, taping, and masking non-painted surfaces, and cleaning and prepping the surface, spray evenly horizontally then vertically in a crosshatch pattern. Allow the first coat to “tack” before applying the next coat.  Three even coats should be sufficient coverage. Apply when surfaces and ambient temperature are between 60 and 85°F. Dries to use in two hours.

Step 5: Remove Tape & Masking Paper

When removing the cabinets and putting them back into place, you risk the chance or dinging or damaging them during transport.

Instead, prep the cabinets as described in step 1 and all that’s left is removing the tape and masking paper!

Can You Refinish Cabinets Without Removing Them?

There are both benefits and drawbacks to removing cabinets before refinishing them. While removing the cabinets prior to refinishing might make it easier to apply the coating, this process is very old school and time consuming. Additionally, removing the cabinets means you need to have another designated space for the coating and drying of the doors and drawers. You also run the risk of damaging the cabinets when you put them back into place.

Can You Restain Cabinets Without Sanding Them?

Although you don’t have to sand cabinets in order to refinish or restain them, the cabinets will look newer and you will get better results if you sand or strip them.

What Is the Best Way to Refinish Cabinets Without Striping Them?

The best way to learn how to refinish cabinets without stripping them is through training, practice, and the use of quality products that are huge time savers in the refinishing process.

Is It Better to Strip or Sand Cabinets?

If you want the cabinets to look brand new, it will take more time and energy. In other words, sanding and stripping the cabinets or using quality, time-saving products such as liquid sandpaper will be necessary.

How Long Does It Take a Professional to Refinish Cabinets?

If the professional refinisher removes the doors and drawers to spray, it will take approximately two to three days to refinish cabinets. If done the NAPCO way, the job will be completed in one day!

Tips & Tricks for Refinishing Cabinets

Here are a couple of tips and tricks for refinishing cabinets:

Use High-Quality Products

The right cabinet refinishing products make all the difference. From liquid sandpaper to cabinet coatings, high-quality products ensure you can get the job done right.

Only a select number of refinishing companies offer volume discounts, which can help save a significant amount money and make it easier for refinishers to find the materials needed to get the job started and finished faster.

Hire a Professional

Refinishing cabinets is a complex process that requires years of experience and access to specialized products and equipment. By hiring a local refinishing professional to take on the job, you benefit from expert guidance on how to best refinish your kitchen or bathroom cabinets.

To find a professional refinisher in your area, start by asking for recommendations and checking references. Consider getting quotes from several experienced refinishers to see what your options are.

NAPCO Training: Learn to Refinish Cabinets Without Stripping (& So Much More)!

If you want to refresh your refinishing skills, you can attend one of our training programs for new or experienced refinishers, led by highly experienced trainers and including extensive hands-on experience. By attending NAPCO’s training class, you will learn the proper procedures and processes required to have full success in refinishing cabinets (along with bathtubs, tile, countertops, and more)!

Additionally, you will learn about the best coatings and chemicals in the refinishing industry that you may have never used before or may not be familiar with. And we also offer a customer loyalty program that helps refinishers like you stay on budget and save even more on top-tier refinishing materials.

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