Asked on Jun 05, 2014

What's the easiest way to spruce up my kitchen cabinets?

by Patti
My cabinets have at least 5 or 6 coats of primer and white paint that is caked with grease from yrs of cooking. They also have areas where the paint just peels off to expose an old "antiqued" finish underneath. I dread having to strip all the cabinets, doors and drawer fronts, is there some way out of this mess? We need to fix up to be able to sell in the near future, so don't want to dump money into them w/o having to. Any suggestions would be greatly
Cabinet doors with underneath antique finish exposed
Caked on grease and grime
Dirty worn paint
Worn and peeling paint
  53 answers
  • Ttr116939 Ttr116939 on Jun 05, 2014
    I would love to know the answer to this as I have the same problem. I can't figure out a way to get your answers. I don' t know too much about computers.
  • Donna Byram Donna Byram on Jun 05, 2014
    Give them a good cleaning with a degreaser such as TSP All purpose cleaner and degreaser. Then sand and paint just the outside panels. That looks like where most of your wear is at by the pics you posted. It will still be a job,but it will pay off in the long run.
  • Deneka Scott Deneka Scott on Jun 05, 2014
    Degrease then degloss - I sand nothing anymore with a good deglosser
  • Gayle Gayle on Jun 05, 2014
    Chalk paint!!
  • Barbara Strain Barbara Strain on Jun 05, 2014
    Try Awesome cleaner found at the Dollar store. Works wonders.
    • See 3 previous
    • Sharon Sharon on Dec 20, 2017

      Awesome Degreaser trully is awesome. And the Awesome Orange in the half gallon with hot water is great too, get the car sponge, kitchen rubber gloves and round plastic scrubbies and your good to go.

      You might also want to visit Habitat for Humanity Restore for some used cabinet doors cheap. Take your measurements.

  • Michele Russ Michele Russ on Jun 05, 2014
    Give them a good cleaning with Simple Green, rinse and paint them with Reclaim paint for cabinets. It has amazing bonding abilities that require NO sanding, stripping, or sanding.
  • Andy Gore Andy Gore on Jun 05, 2014
    i'm in the middle of a kitchen remodel and i'm replacing the doors and resurfacing the cabinets. all in hard maple and steel.
  • Sandra Self Sandra Self on Jun 05, 2014
    Mean Green will take it off and not hurt paint to much you can make cabinets look distressed if you are into that
  • Karan F Karan F on Jun 05, 2014
    Here are some Non Toxic answers For wood cabinets use a vegetable oil based product such as liquid castile soap. You can use it strong or as watered down as is necessary to remove greasy films
  • Debbie machia Debbie machia on Jun 05, 2014
    Buy new cabinet doors
  • B. Reynolds B. Reynolds on Jun 05, 2014
    mean green full strength, it will remove the grease and if you let t sit it will also remove the paint. rinse then re prime and repaint.
  • Bonnie Powers Stopa Bonnie Powers Stopa on Jun 05, 2014
    Greased Lightening works wonders! You can find it at Walmart. It's pricy but trust me it works very well.
  • Terry G Terry G on Jun 05, 2014
    we recently purchased an older home with 6 layers of paint on the cabinets - we stripped them down using stripper and eventually a heat gun - such a process but well worth it. Hopefully you can find an easier remedy
  • Meena M Meena M on Jun 05, 2014
    Simple green. I don't like deglosser. I can tend to make things gummy. Lightly sand then, you may have to repaint if you can't accurately match the white (it's harder than you would think) I've done many cabinets before. You shouldn't have too much trouble with these :)
  • Michele McPherson Michele McPherson on Jun 05, 2014
    Lowes sells a Rust-Oleum 128-fl oz Exterior Gloss White Oil-Base Paint my husband uses it on his boat and got the idea to paint my kitchen cabinets I love it so easy to clean just wipe grease and food right off
  • Des338187 Des338187 on Jun 05, 2014
    TSP does wonders cleaning painted wood. Painters use it to get walls clean and ready to paint.
    • See 3 previous
    • Robyn L Robyn L on Jun 05, 2014
      Trisodium phosphate it issold in the paint aisle. I always use it before painting
  • Sherrie sprinkle Sherrie sprinkle on Jun 05, 2014
    Menards has a kit that cleans, deglosser, and a stain that is awesome, totally redid my cabints. It is made by Rustoleum
  • You can take them to a furniture refinisher and have them dipped to strip them for you. Then just sand down the bases. I would consider using general finishes milk paint. No primer needed and it brushes on like latex. Not like typical milk paint. Very durable and high quality. Then finish with a couple of coats of wipe on poly.
  • Margo Reilly Margo Reilly on Jun 05, 2014
    I have read many times that Ann Sloan chalk paint if fabulous. . No need to strip of any other preparation. .. beautiful colors too... good luck
  • Becky Towery Becky Towery on Jun 05, 2014
    I live in a manufactured home, had it built in 2005. I would really love to paint the cabinets something kinda country looking.Can I clean them real good and just paint or do I need to use a primer never done this before but am willing to tackle if someone would tell me how to start.Becky@the country lake house Flint, Texas
    • See 2 previous
    • RUTH C RUTH C on Jun 06, 2014
      @ Sounds excellent Bonnie!!
  • Iri334697 Iri334697 on Jun 05, 2014
    What about taking a heavy grit sandpaper to the cabinets followed by a buffing block,follow that with a coat of stain and polyurethane. It will give it a distressed look.
  • Carole Carole on Jun 05, 2014
    I would use Sugar soap to wash the cabinets down.This will get rid of the grease and is safe to use on wood. If you have not heard of sugar soap, ask at your local hardware store for a degreaser that is safe to use on wood - generally is used prior to prepping for painting wood or other surfaces. If you want to sell your house, I would not go with the shabby chic distressed look. If you were staying and liked that look I would suggest just the clean with the sugar soap and then use sand paper to lightly distress the wood - you are already halfway there. However you want the best price for your home. I would use a paint stripper, such as Citri strip which is a less toxic stripper but still does a good job - smells of citrus and strip that old paint off and start again with new primer/undercoat and a colour that is neutral that will appeal to a broad market. If you were keeping the house I would say if you were repainting to go for a colour you love, but when selling, a neutral colour appeals more to the masses and your colour choice won't put someone off. People can always add their own stamp to a house with colourful kettles, toasters and accessories when they buy a neutral kitchen and neutral colours will also make the kitchen space look bigger.
  • Iri334697 Iri334697 on Jun 05, 2014
    Soft scrub works on caked grease and grime
  • Rose Marie S Rose Marie S on Jun 05, 2014
    I would sand most of it off less time consuming IMO
  • Donna Arsenault Donna Arsenault on Jun 05, 2014
    Would a pressure washer take off the paint? Take doors off and sand the rest.
  • Penny Spencer Thompson Penny Spencer Thompson on Jun 05, 2014
    we just did this to my father's cabinets. It was a ton of work, but one thing that helped A LOT was oven cleaner. Spray it on, wait a while and use a razor blade or putty knife and it will come right off.
  • Penny Spencer Thompson Penny Spencer Thompson on Jun 05, 2014
    this is what it looks like before and after
  • Kevin Gray Kevin Gray on Jun 05, 2014
    I'm a professional, have done this many times..... Clean with TSP....then wipe down with lacquer thinner (very flammable and fumes are not healthy so ventilate).....paint with Sherwin Williams Proclassic Enamel, preferably the new Acrylic/Alkyd blend. Adding a touch of Floetrol to the paint will make it lay down even better. No need to prime, this paint is designed to stick to glossy surfaces, plus the thinner will take a lot of the gloss off and soften the finish slightly so you get a good bond.
    • See 2 previous
    • Michael Villa Michael Villa on Jun 06, 2014
      @Kevin Gray what happen to all the good paint we used to work with i started in 1974 caborts ben moore penaflex ovt allgreat paints 74 yrs old now ready to stop
  • Megan Smith Megan Smith on Jun 05, 2014
    I redid an old house that was filthy. You could literally scrape the grease off the walls and cabinets with you're fingernail. Yuk. Tsp is great, but I think what worked best was cut right through the it made me feel a little safer touching that filth.
  • Donna Rockwood Donna Rockwood on Jun 05, 2014
    Java Gel
  • Janet koons Janet koons on Jun 06, 2014
    Clean 'em and chalk paint.
  • Alma Williams Alma Williams on Jun 06, 2014
    Please do NOT use bleach, tsp or lacquer thinner in your house to clean. You cannot ventilate enough to avoid the noxious fumes that can make you very sick. You can find many non-toxic degreasers in the aisle of any home improvement store. I chose Citristrip, a non-toxic orange-based product that works incredibly well. Believe me, the cabinets I was cleaning made yours look just fine!
    • Kevin Gray Kevin Gray on Jun 06, 2014
      @Alma Williams TSP doesn't release any is a surfacent....basically soap! If there is any residue at all left from Citristrip, the finish will fail. Citristrip is not without its risks too. It is definitely not a cleaning product. I don't recommend bleach for much of anything, it reacts with too many things and can generate chlorine gas which plays havoc with lungs and nerves......
  • Lisa DeLuca Lisa DeLuca on Jun 06, 2014
    Sand it - keeping lots of paint in place for that vintage look. Then maybe light white stain and only exposed spots will take it. Try it on one door. Good luck!
  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Jun 06, 2014
    I'd sand them. I had an old kitchen/pantry in my old house, 24 years worth of paint and wear and tear. I emptied them, taped up plastic on all the door ways, sanded inside and outside with an orbital sander and then repainted. They were like new.
  • Bonnie G Bonnie G on Jun 06, 2014
    If they are good quality get the doors dipped to get off all the paint and then do it right when repainting them. The cabinets themselves just clean with TSP and sand and then repaint with the paint that you are going to use on the doors. The doors are the most important part so make sure they are done right and you will have years of enjoyment. My neighbor just did his with a high gloss black and light granite countertops and they look amazing. He got his dipped and it cost $250. he said it was the best $250 he ever spent.
  • Denise M Denise M on Jun 06, 2014
    Elbow grease, time, and patience.
  • Keri Keri on Jun 06, 2014
    Before using any of those toxic products try to wash with white vinegar a splash of dish soap and water. Because it sounds like alot if grease build up you will have to scrub first then use a rag to wipe with the same solution. Try it you will be amazed at the power of vinegar! The smell never lingers after their done either. I painted my kitchen and master bath cabinets and this was my only prep. Im worried about all of those primer coats. Why so many coats??
  • Keri Keri on Jun 06, 2014
    I used chalk paint And there varnish as a sealer. 100% non toxic I painted right in my kitchen and basement 0 fumes or odor. The varnish is the best sealer for scrubbable surfaces. Dont ever wax kitchen cabinets!
  • Cheryl S Cheryl S on Jun 06, 2014
    Try Krud Kutter. It works great.
  • Kevin Gray Kevin Gray on Jun 06, 2014
    A lot of people have been saying sand.....there are risks of lead if the paint is old, and crystalline silica even in the newest paints....take serious precautions. I had to be certified to do this stuff.... any lead residue around kids can be devastating....
  • Renee Meyer Renee Meyer on Jun 06, 2014
    Clean well then chalk paint. No prep needed except cleaning.
  • Jessie Jessie on Jun 06, 2014
    If you are selling the house my advice is clean them up with TSP and add a coat of paint to spruce them up for showing your home , the new owners will replace or paint them to their tastes. Do not cause your self extra work.
  • Lisa Lisa on Jun 06, 2014
    I agree with @Jessie and I would clean them with TSP. But then I'd also very lightly sand so that the paint will stick better.
  • Tan66887 Tan66887 on Jun 06, 2014
    DAWN dishwashing liquid will cut the grease better than anythiong alse I know....
  • Ellen Sisco Ellen Sisco on Jun 06, 2014
    a product called amish milk will do the job
  • Mandy Mandy on Jun 06, 2014
    We used kilz primer took all doors down and primed them and did all around the cabinets and then painted white and did back splash black and white took us about a month to do good luck
  • Sarah Johnson Sarah Johnson on Jun 06, 2014
    This is what we did in a house we sold, took off all the cabinet doors, my husband took them to work and popped them in the sand/bead blaster for a couple seconds and I just sanding down the facing of the cupboards while doors down (so much easier). I know not everyone works at a steam turbine shop, but look up any machine shop in your area and ask around maybe u know someone who works with and they have access to the sandblaster, trust me it's only seconds to do each door. Then brought them home and re freshened with a coat of fresh stain. It saved so so much time. Good luck
  • Cheryl Anderson Cheryl Anderson on Jun 06, 2014
    Take them off and spray Purple Power (you buy it at an auto parts store) on them, wash with a damp rag and then let them air dry. then sand them and start over with kiltz and paint. good luck.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Jun 07, 2014
    I'd just give them a good cleaning. See projects on this site where the paint is distressed. You could just do more distressing - voila = shabby chic.!
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 07, 2014
    I agree with having the doors dipped. Another coat of paint will just make the problem worse. There are times when you just have to stop and do it right! And I would think about a different kind of hardware instead of just knobs!
  • IRMA IRMA on Dec 19, 2017

    I clean my WITH simple green .it works good ..

  • Margie Hood Margie Hood on Feb 23, 2018

    i say just take off all the cabinets..dont forget to number each one..sand them, i purchased my sander for like 15$ at our area walmart...i just bought a paint with primer in it , its always worked for painting my top ones white and the bottom a dark gray....good look with yours

  • Lynn Lynn on Feb 23, 2018

    A little bit of sanding on just the rough edges, then no prep required except quick wipe all over and then the magic of chalk paint and if you want it to be very hard wearing a quick coating of chalk paint wax with a brush or a cloth. I did mine in 1 day !! Looks so good I must say .