What do you do when your kitchen needs a facelift? Those cabinets are solid, they’re functional, but man, are they dated! One option many homeowners are turning to is cabinet refinishing kits. Many of these pre-built kits use a water-based epoxy coating to ensure that the cabinets get the most rock-solid finish possible without investing in a lot of professional-grade equipment. But there’s a lot more to refinishing cabinets with these materials than opening the can and getting to work.

Prepping for an Epoxy Finish

If you’ve never heard it before, take this away with you: The biggest predictor of success for your DIY project is how well you prep your surfaces and work area. It’s really that simple, even though prep work can be pretty involved. Creating a clean, smooth, ready-to-coat cabinet door takes a lot of effort, but yields magnificent results. This is the number one secret of the pros, besides having all that fancy painting equipment.

So how do you prep for an epoxy cabinet refinish? There are steps.

  1. Remove all the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware. Label each and store them where they won’t get lost or damaged. Using sticky notes to track cabinet doors can be a really good trick, since doors may look alike but not actually fit the same.
  2. Fill any cracked surfaces with a compatible filler and sand it smooth. You can’t simply paint away problems in your cabinetry.
  3. Clean your cabinet fronts, cabinet doors, and exposed finish on cabinet bases thoroughly to remove oils, spills, and other messes that will interfere with paint adherence.
  4. Cover any surface that you don’t want paint on. This includes your backsplash and your countertops, and even your work area. This is not a material that you can necessarily just peel off should you have a drip.
  5. Set up areas for your doors and drawer fronts to cure. Curing can take several days per painted side, so ensure the area is super clean and free of any drafts that could deposit dust and other debris.

Only once you’ve fully prepped your area should you begin the task at hand. Taping your cabinet bases can help keep the paint lines sharp, but remember to remove the tape while the paint is wet for the best results. It’s not always necessary to paint the insides of your cabinets, but should you choose to, remember that the pre-built kits are only designed to cover outer surfaces, so you’ll need extra coating material.