Monday, May 22, 2006

Cabinets, Paint and Sandpaper... Oh My!

My wife and I knew we would have to do something about the kitchen cabinets. We just weren't quite sure what. The underlying oak cabinets themselves were in decent shape, but the off-white paint was peeling away in many places revealing the previous shade of green. Not really caring for the green, we had had them repainted when we did a major remodel years ago.

Unfortunately, the contractor did not heed our warning that the cabinets had originally been painted with an oil-based enamel. He didn't prepare the surface properly, so within a month or so the new paint wasn't adhering properly and was already showing signs of wear. Flash forward over seven years and they looked pretty sad, and a sad kitchen is no way to sell a house.

We thought about just throwing another coat of paint on them, but we knew that would only be a temporary fix and it just wouldn't look that good. I tried sanding them, but the old latex paint just gummed up the sandpaper. We talked about stripping the cabinets back down to the original oak wood and then staining or painting them, but realized quickly that we just didn't have the time. We looked at just replacing the cabinets all together, but what we could afford would really have been inferior to the existing cabinets. We also explored having them refaced, but surprisingly that was almost as expensive as installing brand new (albeit cheap) cabinets.

We finally decided that our best option was to have a professional strip all the doors and drawers down to bare wood and refinish everything with a nice, durable enamel/lacquer. We found a great shop, Montgomery Furniture Services (sorry, no website that I could find - gotta get with it guys!) not far from the house that could do the job for us. They had everything finished in a few days. I added some new hinges and hardware and, well, all I can say is "Wow!" The cabinets never looked so good!

No more peeling paint. No more worrying about the slightest contact leaving a mark. The new enamel is smooth and tough, and stripping off the layers of old paint really let the natural oak grain show through. Nice!

By the way, in case you're wondering, that's a pic I took with my cell phone of our son sitting on a giant-sized chair they have in their refinishing shop. Really a great marketing idea. As you can see they put a sign with their phone number behind the chair so that it shows up when people take pictures (and they tell me a lot of people want pics of the big chair).

UPDATE: Here's a couple pics of the newly refinished cabinets. Don't they look great?

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