How to use steam to strip cabinets?

Jami Colich
by Jami Colich

A few years ago I used a shark steamer to clean my cabinets and it, of course, stripped some o the finish so I stopped. But now I want to paint them and was wondering if I should just use my steamer again to strip off the varnish... any ideas? I will still sand a bit, but thought this might be faster than using tsp THEN sanding a bunch...

  3 answers
  • William William on Sep 01, 2018

    all you need is to clean the cabinets. Lightly sand to remove any gloss and roughen for paint. Do not need to remove old paint.

    Make sure they are clean and dry. Remove the doors and hardware. Mark the doors and cabinets with tape where they go. Lightly sand the doors and cabinets to remove any gloss and roughen the surface for paint with 220 grit sandpaper or a green Scotch Brite pad.. Use a tack cloth or damp rag to remove dust after sanding. Prime with a stain blocking primer like Zinsser 123, KILZ,or BIN and have it tinted to the color of the top coat. This will prevent dark or stained surfaces from showing through the top coat. Acrylic, or water base paints are low-fume and clean up easily with water. Alkyd, or oil-base, paints require good ventilation because the paint contains solvents that can irritate your lungs and make you feel sick. Alkyd options require mineral spirits for cleanup, but they provide a hard, durable paint finish. Whichever you use, buy the best-quality paint you can afford for a lasting kitchen cabinet finish. Seal with at least three coats with a water based polyurethane. Use a small foam roller and foam brush for a smooth finish.

  • Gk Gk on Sep 01, 2018

    You do not have to strip off all the varnish. You can give them just a light sanding to knock down any shine to your varnish. You don't have to sand all the way to the wood. Then clean them well. Prime with a primer like Kilz--you can have it tinted to your cabinet color if you are not going to white. Then paint your cabinets with an acrylic latex paint in an enamel finish--letting dry well between coats. I hope you plan to remove all doors, drawers, and hardware before you paint. You do not have to poly over this paint--some people do but I find it's not necessary as the enamel finish is long wearing, very durable, and washes well.

  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Sep 01, 2018

    Jami, it can’t hurt, as long as you get all the finish off the cabinets. Best wishes ☺️

    • Jami Colich Jami Colich on Sep 01, 2018

      Thank you, Jewel! I am going to steam them this weekend and then sand a bit. Worst case scenario, I have to sand more than I wanted! Lol! Next weekend, the painting😬