Refinishing cabinets- most durable method?!

10 Replies

Hey BP- Quick question, we want to spruce up the cabinets in our rental (they’re the traditional light oak cabinets). The cabinets are in good condition but I’d like to change the color to give the kitchen a facelift & get a little bit more income from the unit (along with replacing floors & painting) What is the best way to refinish the cabinets while ensuring they’ll still be durable for renters? Thanks in advance!

If Paint then consider oil. Sherwin Williams Proclassic oil based is worth the exorbitant cost per gallon. Prime and paint with that stuff and it is rock solid enamel.


Building on what Tyler said, you can go for a simple replacement. I know when you hear replacing you think of a large lump sum of $. "Chinese" cabinets are making a presence down here in Florida. They're basically cheap cabinets that look amazing. To be honest they're not even that bad, they're made a lot quicker. If you have a local IKEA, they offer a cheap alternative. Another alternative that I have seen is people wrapping them, similar to like a car wrap. 

I used general finishes java gel stain. It is a urethane finish so similar to poly. I cannot post a photo but photos are all over the internet. Mine turned out nice and still look like stained wood cabinets, not painted.

@Marian Smith how difficult was the process & how well do you think they’ll hold up? Since this is a rental I’m concerned about durability. If there isn’t a durable, simple (i use that term loosely lol) solution I may not touch them because they’re still in great shape- just not a fan of the light oak finish.

I've used the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations. It took forever and was way more work than I was expecting, but they still look good after about 2 years.  I wouldn't do it again for a rental though.

In May will be 4 years and it looks good.  It lays on top like paint but you can touch up easily.  Better than white.  I personally would not go to the trouble unless selling, but my tenants all remarked on how they liked it.  The java color matches a lot of newer furniture and looks very contemporary.  I would not use it on arched doors...personal preference.

If you paint previously unpainted cabinets, especially if the have a clear coat on them, picking the proper primer is critical for a durable paint job. If you don’t want to get carried away with sanding the clear coat off, grab a can of XIM Fusion Bonder Primer (expensive but good $50 + per Gal). It will etch the clear coat so you get good adhesion with your paint. Apply the primer liberally and allow proper time to cure. I recommend shooting cabinets with an airless paint sprayer if you want them to look good without residual fibers from a roller or orange peeling/brush streaking. Double coat with paint. To really ensure a good durable finish, apply Polycrylic clear coat over the finished paint job (or staining) following at least 48-hrs of curing. That stuff will add a hard shell over the paint so you have armor above the coating. You can get it in any sheen so it will not change the appearance of your paint if you don’t want it to and it is perfectly clear/does not yellow over time like polyeurethene. 

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