How to remove paint from all kitchen cabinets and drawers?


Seller had a cheap paint job done on the kitchen cabinets and drawers right before we purchased out home. Painted them white that gets grey streaks when barely touched. Look a mess with 1 month. Do not want to paint over this cheap job for several reasons: Do not like white painted look; no option for other color as too many colors on walls (gold - would have to repaint entire interior of house due to open concept and open loft on second story) countertops (black with other colors mixed in) and backsplash (various green shades of nice, new tiny tiles). So we need to go back to wood. Have animals and emphysema so no hatch chemical smells. Help?

  11 answers
  • Gk Gk on May 02, 2020

    If you wanted to get back to wood you would have to use a stripper and sand. Citristrip is the least smelly chemical stripper but it still smells and it takes longer to work it's magic compared to other strippers. Sanding without stripping will create a lot of dust but you could wear a mask. Once you have your cabinets down to wood you would also have to stain and poly them. Both products have a strong odor. Water based poly doesn't smell as much and dries fast. Painting them again may be your least smelliest option.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on May 02, 2020

    Hi! I only use Citristrip to remove paint. If you can work as much outside as possible, you won't smell anything. Indoors, odor is very minimal. Work in sections, and let the chemical work. The paint will start lifting and you will be able to scrape it off. Once the paint is removed, I clean it up with soap and water, and let it dry completely before sanding. Once you have the paint completely off, assess your finish. If they painted over a clear sealer you are actually in luck, because the paint will have sat on the surface and not soaked into the wood. Dull finish on the wood? You can continue to sand and then restore with wood stain and sealer. I doubt they took it down to the bare wood, since the finish is so poor. You could do one or two doors and frames at a time, as you can tolerate it. There are sometimes woodworkers who will refinish cabinets, but, it depends on your area, but, it is sometimes an option. Good luck and stay safe!

  • Dee Dee on May 02, 2020

    I agree with GK. That is the entire process for stripping wood. Sounds like you might just try cleaning the cabinets with TSP and then using a good acrylic paint from either Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams. This way they will be clean and you will not have to worry about chemical strippers.

    Or you could hire a company to reface the cabinets for you. This is a big tedious job.

  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on May 02, 2020

    Remove doors and drawers before doing the stripping. It will be a lot easier in the process.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on May 02, 2020

    I use Citristrip, it is the least toxic and low smell of all the strippers I have tried. Remove the drawers, doors, and hardware before starting. Best to you.

  • Beke Beke on May 02, 2020

    Thank you all! Since this is not my forever home And I do not have to live with it forever, I probably will clean the cabinets with TSP and repaint white with good acrylic paint.

  • Janice Janice on May 02, 2020

    Citri-Strip paint remover is definitely the way to go. As someone else suggested, though more work, the Citri-strip will be easier to use on a horizontal surface. A trick to make it work even better than it usually does is to put the Citri-Strip on the painted surface, then add a layer of saran wrap or a blastic bag so the Strippper doesn't dry too quickly. It will be a messy time-consuming job but we often have to work hard to get things accomplished and looking the way we want.

  • You’ll have to strip the paint to start over. Do it outside when the weather is nicer. Purchase a respirator.

  • Betsy Betsy on May 03, 2020

    Hi Beke: What I use, with great success, is Citirstrip. Here's their site:

    Here is the site if you have questions: There's a phone number too, so you can call and ask any question you may have.

    I like it a lot and have used it for many years, on horizontal and vertical surfaces.

    Good luck

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 04, 2020

    Citristrip isn't harsh so that that would be my recommendation for stripper. Wear a respirator for sanding, if necessary. You can try cleaning with TSP after Citristrip. Based on the colors you describe, you might be able to with a navy or grey paint which would save you a lot of prep work.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 04, 2021

    Hello Beke,

    This is not a job for anyone with Emphysema as you would need to use Chemical Stripper or a Sanding Machine (All that Dust)!

    Please consider a Faux Wood Finish! To get a better grip on the surface a light sand will be required. Then using a Matt paint the colour you would like the wood to be, give the units a good covering, then let it dry. Use a Thick Varnish over it in the colour you would like the grain to be, using a stiff brush to give you a grain like finish. I have done this myself on many things, including internal house doors. To make it a tougher finish for a kitchen, you could use Polyurethane varnish to seal it. Best wishes.

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