How to refinish cabinet doors with plastic veneer

Written by lara webster
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How to refinish cabinet doors with plastic veneer
Adding new hardware can add a modern look to your recently refinished cabinets. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Veneer cabinetry is a less expensive than real hard wood and is often designed to mimic the look of a natural wood finish. Plastic veneer can become faded or scratched over time; while veneer cannot be stained, a paint job is possible. As long as careful preparation is taken seriously, veneer cabinets can be successfully brought back to life with a few coats of fresh paint. Always let your cabinet doors ample dry time before you try to use them again. Otherwise they may stick to the cabinet base.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screw driver
  • Cleanser
  • Epoxy filler, as needed
  • Sand paper
  • Tack cloth
  • Paint roller
  • Primer
  • Paint

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  1. 1

    Remove the doors from the cabinets by unscrewing the hinges. Number the doors and place a corresponding number inside the cabinet where the door belongs. This will eliminate the possibility of replacing the doors in the wrong order later. Use painter's tape to create a numbered label that will not cause a permanent mark.

  2. 2

    Remove the handles and pulls from the cabinet doors.

  3. 3

    Clean the doors with a grease-cutting cleanser, such as TSP. Because kitchen cabinets are exposed to years of smoke and hands covered in cooking oils, it is particularly important to make sure to do a thorough cleaning job--paint will not stick to a grimy surface. Rinse the soap residue from the cabinets and allow them to dry.

  4. 4

    Examine the doors for chipped veneer. Fill any chips or holes with an epoxy filler.

  5. 5

    Sand the doors with a #120 or #220 grit sand paper. Sanding the surface will slightly rough up the surface and give the paint something to grip onto--veneer is smooth and not likely to adhere well to paint without sanding.

  6. 6

    Use a tack cloth or damp rag to remove the dust particles that are created during sanding.

  7. 7

    Prime the doors with a fast-drying oil-based primer. Use a roller to avoid leaving brush strokes. Allow the primer to dry fully; use the recommendation of the manufacturer to determine the primer's dry time.

  8. 8

    Apply an oil-based paint or enamel paint designed for cabinetry. Water-based paints can also be used, but will often take much longer to cure completely. Use a roller to apply the paint so that you won't see brush strokes. Allow the paint to dry for at least two hours and then add a second coat. Once the paint is dry, reattach handles and replace the doors.

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