How To Sand Kitchen Cabinets: Step-by-Step (4 Steps!)

The kitchen is the place where some people spend most of their time. Depending on your house design the kitchen can be seen from your living room or it can have its own room/space. Regardless of that, everyone wants their kitchen to look good. If your kitchen looks classy/modern then your whole house will look different.

Most of the people choose wooden kitchen cabinets, these type of cabinets last longer and look better. I like wooden cabinets because when they start to look old or they paint start to vanish then I can just refinish them.

Refinishing kitchen cabinets isn’t hard, but you still need the right tools and a step by step tutorial to follow. Luckily for you, we can help you.  Down below I will write a step-by-step guide on how to sand kitchen cabinets.

How to Sand Kitchen Cabinets?

As I mentioned before, for this project you need the right tools.  To sand kitchen cabinets you need a high-quality sander. If you don’t already own one then make sure to check the top 5 recommendations for the best sanders for cabinets

Disassembling Cabinets

You can’t sand cabinets while they are still glued together. That’s why the first thing you need to do is to disassemble them. One important thing that you should do while disassembling them is to mark them using duck tape.  This will help you when you have to re-install them. You will know which part belongs to which part.

Most of the cabinets come with a release mechanism at the back. If your cabinets have it too then reach for it and pop it off the socket. If your cabinets don’t come with a release mechanism then you can use a screwdriver to undo the screws manually.

Make sure to save the screws too because you will use them again for assembling.

Remove Old Paint

The main reason why people decide to refinish kitchen cabinets is that the old paint started to vanish or look old. That’s why once you disassemble the cabinets you will have to get rid of their old paint. You can use a paint remover ( you can find it on every hardware store ) or you can you a sander for paint removal. I suggest you use a sander if you have already one, if not then use the paint remover.

Lay your cabinet on your work table and start the sander. Make sure to not apply extra pressure and use a constant speed. If the paint has almost vanished (before sanding) then you can use finer sandpaper from the beginning. If not then you have to slowly change the sandpapers and move towards a finer one.

Once you are done with the sander you have to check if there’s still paint on the corners or somewhere on the surface. If there’s still paint then you can wrap sandpaper to your hand and start to slowly sand the paint away. After the paint is gone then you need to clean the cabinets and get rid of the dust.


Once you remove the paint and get rid of the dust then it’s time to sand the cabinets. Again for this process, you will have to use a sander. Start your sander and slowly start to move it.

Depending on your sander type, you can move it in circular movements or up-down movements. Regardless of how you move your sander, you need to always use a constant speed and try not to apply too much pressure.

While sanding you need to get rid of every scratch that the cabinets have. I recommend you start with 80-grit sandpaper and then move forward to 150-grit sandpaper and then 220-grit sandpaper.  This technique helps you to get rid of the scratches and at the same time (while using finer sandpaper) you will get a smooth finish.

Once you sand each of your cabinets one by one then it’s time to clean them and move to the next and final step.

Read also: Best Sanders For Furniture

Refinishing the Cabinets

And now the final step – At this point, your kitchen cabinets should have no deep scratches, a smooth finish and be ready to be painted. If you are not satisfied with the results then you can re-do step 3 again.

You can refinish cabinets in many ways. I prefer to use paint sprayers, they are easy to use and the cabinets will look better at the end. If you want to use paint sprayers too, then make sure to read the post I made about how to paint spray kitchen cabinets.

If you don’t want to use a paint sprayer then you can use this method. First, make sure that you add wood conditioner to the entire kitchen cabinets and wait for it to dry ( usually it takes up to 30 minutes ).  After it dries then you have to apply the stain, I usually use a cotton cloth to do it.

You have to let the stain sink for 20 minutes ( or how much the back of the container says ).  After the times is up, pick a small rag and start to wipe off the extra stain that it’s left. Wait for it to dry and then make sure that there are no dust particles left. I usually use steel wool to buff the cabinets.

After you get rid of the dust then it’s time for the final task – apply the clear coat. You can apply it with a brush, but make sure that you spread it evenly with thin strokes. Wait for the coat to dry, buff and clean the cabinets again and then add the second and final clear coat. Once the cabinets dry then you are ready to go.

You can also learn: How to sand furniture?

Final Words

Refinishing your kitchen cabinets is very easy if you follow these steps. Always make sure to double-read what you will have to do next. Keep your self safe while sanding, wear protective glasses, gloves, and a mask to protect yourself from the dust.

Moreover, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for each of the tools that you will be using for this project.

Read Also: Why should you Sand Drywall?



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