How do I refurbish my kitchen cabinets on a low budget?


The previous owner glued, yes glued, wood floor tiles to the face & sides of them all! They are hideous! I'm very frustrated!

q how do i refurbish my kitchen cabinets on a low budget
q how do i refurbish my kitchen cabinets on a low budget
  9 answers
  • Susan Susan on Aug 27, 2018

    OMG!! BLESS YOU!! Get your sander out! And go to Home Depot or Lowe's and ask if they can offer help on glue removal from wood! Looking at pic, I would think starting off with like a 80 grit sand paper first then go up to the finer ones...just GO SLOW! you don't want to sand to deep!!

  • Ok, yours take the cake. I understand your frustration. What were they thinking? Since ripping them out is not an option, I would try to dissolve the glue and sand down and paint. Type of solvent, I am not sure, but I guarantee you will need to run fans and have every door and window open and wear the appropriate protective gear. Hopefully other Hometalkers will have a suggestion on solvent to use or a creative solution. In the meantime, I would take thorough measurements and shop your local habitat restore and see if you could replace them piecemeal inexpensively and then paint to match. Anything has to be better . . . My heart goes out to you.

  • Dorothy Pelletier Dorothy Pelletier on Aug 28, 2018

    I realize you are on a fixed budget, but sometimes repairing can cost more. Just a suggestion, if you put the word out to friends, contractors you may be able to come across older cabinets that are being replaced and ready for the junk pile just to get rid of them. You can also check out donation centers for house construction items. Hope this suggestion helps you.

  • Chubby58 Chubby58 on Aug 28, 2018

    Check out the Habitat Restore near you or a thrift shop or salvage yard. I know the restore always has an abundance of cabinets, like whole sets. If you can't afford that, try heating that glue with a heat gun and scrape off as much as you can. From the picture this is going to take a while, so be patient. You can try putting some Kutzit, that is my go to remover for everything. You can only get it on line as I haven't been able to find it in the stores. Try the heat gun and a putty knife first and see if you can get most of it off. You'll need a lot of rags because you will want to wipe your scraper every time you scrape. Once all the glue and gunk is off, then clean well with a rag and denatured alcohol. Then sand, sand, sand until your cabinets are nice an smooth. I feel for you, that is a lot of work, but I know you can do it!

  • Jlnatty Jlnatty on Aug 28, 2018

    Do you know if the cabinets are solid wood, or are they engineered wood (plywood, MDF, particle board)? I would only put in the work needed to try and remove the glue if the cabinets are solid wood. But if you want to try anyway, here is what I'd consider:

    (1) Check around for used cabinets at the Re-store (run by Habitat for Humanity - you can find tremendous bargains there) and check on Craig's List, etc. to see what you can find and if you can afford. You might still have to do some trimming and refinishing or repainting, but it would save you a lot of work.

    (2) Sand the glue gunked surfaces fairly "flat" but don't try to remove every bit of glue. Then resurface with 1/4" or 3/8" thickness plywood cut to size. Then proceed to seal and paint or seal and cover with a cabinet skin.

    (3) If you opt to try and remove the glue I agree with Chubby58 to try a heat gun and a plastic scraper so you don't gouge the cabinet surface, rather than trying to use a chemical to remove the glue (like acetone). Then you'd need to sand smooth. Then you'd need to decide how to refinish. I don't think trying to stain would work because you'd never be able to remove all the glue that has sunk into the pores of the surface - that would prevent stain from "taking" fully. I think you would have to paint, re-skin (resurface) the cabinets (this might cost more than what your budget allows), or come up with some other decorative treatment like removable wallpaper. It would depend what kind of look you're going for. For instance, if you like a country look, I'd look at pressedboard beadboard siding (not solid wood beadboard) - 4x8 sheets, measure, cut and glue the skins to your cabinets. This might be within your budget. Or use old pallet wood (stained or painted) to cover the areas where the wood floor tiles were glued and paint or refinish/restain the rest of the cabinet surfaces in a coordinating color. There are lots of ideas on Pinterest and the internet once you get the cabinets to the point where you can apply a new finish or new surfacing material.

    Good luck with your project.

  • Helen Helen on Aug 28, 2018

    Before I sanded, I"d use a good paint stripper . Might take 2 coats to get it all, but afterwards you can remove the glue and then sand. After that you should be on your way to sanding or repainting.

  • John Lanford John Lanford on Aug 28, 2018

    A few points: the glue looks like contact cement; it still shows ridges from a toothed trowel. You can reinstall the loose tile(s) if you want. I'd use a contact cement.

    THEN, as to refinishing, some good options may include a finish DISSOLVER (like Formby's Furniture Refinisher, or similar). That should blend the existing finish without stripping. If it looks good enough, you can apply a clear finish and you're done. Otherwise, a wiping stain will allow good adjustment to help blend it to your liking.

    Removing the tiles may not be too difficult by using a hammer and chisel - tap one end and insert shims (cheap at any Hardware) as you go, to help progress.

    You could then install a different material of your liking.

    You'll be glad when you're done!

  • Lori Haught Harper Lori Haught Harper on Aug 28, 2018

    Oh, Mary...just WOW. That's pretty bad. Lots of great tips here. Let us know what you end up doing! We're here if you get stuck! (Pardon the pun.)

Your comment...