Restoring Wooden Cabinets {the easy way}

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Last week my husband left town for a week-long mission trip, so I had to find a project to do while he was gone.  Not that my 1 and 3 year old boys don't keep me busy enough, but when my husband is gone I don't care if the kitchen is torn up and I don't have to worry about cooking dinner all week because my boys are thrilled to have PB&J for dinner every night!

My 30-year-old oak cabinets had been looking pretty depressing lately, and now they are gorgeous!  It made me very happy to restore them back to beautiful!  As I was working on them (during nap-times) I was listening to some Lent sermons and pondering RESTORATION--- you start with something old, beat-up, and dingy, then you have to take it all apart and scour it, and THEN you bring out it's inner beauty and cover up all the old scars--- it's a lot of work but it's worth it!  It was a great time to consider what was ugly in me that I needed to let God restore to beautiful too.

cabinet restoration

center;">My cabinets were in pretty bad shape, but if yours just need a little help I would try just using wood markers
to cover up scratches and then using lemon oil to clean and polish them.  It will make a huge difference.

If your cabinets are really worn out and beat up like mine were, here's how you can restore them:



sandpaper, 220-grit

wood markers

tack cloths

tinted polyurethane (I got a shade that was slightly darker than my cabinets; if you want to to much darker you should use 2 coats of the tinted polyurethane so it won't look too streaky)

paintbrush (be sure to get one that is made for use with polyurethane)

1.  Clean all cabinets (I used a bucket of water with a little dish soap and a rag) to remove all gunk and residue.

2.  Remove all doors, drawers, and door pulls/knobs.


3. Lightly sand all surfaces you will be restoring (sanding in the same direction as the wood grain).  You are not trying to remove the polyurethane, just scour it so that the surface is no longer smooth, so the new coat of polyurethane has something to grab on to.


4.  Remove all dust.  I used a large dry paintbrush to brush off most of the dust, and then used the tack cloth to get the rest of it off.


5.  Use the wood markers to cover any scratches (you only need to do this for scratches that scratched the original stain off).


6.  Paint a coat of the tinted polyurethane (make sure it is stirred up well; you can ask the paint store to mix it for you too).  Start with the edges and molding and then paint the flat surfaces.  Double check to make sure there are no drips, puddling in the molding, or visible streaks.

**I wanted some extra protection on the areas that got the most wear and tear (like under the sink and oven) so once the paint dried I lightly sanded again and then added a coat of clear polyurethane**
Restoring Wooden Cabinets {the easy way}7.  When the paint is completely dry you can re-install the doors, drawers, and hardware.


Click HERE to see how I also painted my grungy DOOR HANDLES!

How to Restore Wooden Cabinets {the easy way}

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  1. Crystal Nell says:

    Great tutorial!! I love the way your cabinets look so fresh now. Great job!!

  2. Karen Broadwater says:

    Whoa, beautiful! Great job! :)

  3. What color of poly shades did you use?

I would love to hear what you have to say!