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4 Prep Work Steps That Make or Break Your Cabinet Painting Project

June 14th, 2023 | 3 min read

By Kaylea Kuhlman

Kitchen cabinet refinishing in progress

Cabinet refinishing is not an easy job. It requires thorough prep work, high-quality products, and well-skilled finishers to get the job done right.

Brush & Roll Painting has been refinishing cabinets in the Omaha metro area for over 25 years. We know our thorough prep work process sets us apart from our competitors. 


In this article, we will discuss the steps that are crucial for cabinet refinishing. By reading this, you will be able to make a confident decision on which cabinet refinishing contractor you should choose to bring you the best results that you are looking for. 

Why prep work is significant

Before diving into the steps, let's talk about why thorough prep work is crucial to cabinet refinishing. 

Without these steps, imperfections are guaranteed to show within a matter of months. When the wood starts to chip, it won’t stop until it’s properly fixed. 

Fixing it calls for the cabinets to be completely refinished once again. So, it’s best to trust the process and products completely before making any decisions you might regret. 

By doing research and asking contractors the right questions, you will gain confidence that your project will be done the proper way. 

Cabinet refinishing is an investment in your daily life and your home. When thorough prep work is done and high-quality products are used, your newly refinished cabinets will add value while being able to withstand the daily use. 

These steps may seem like a no-brainer, but it is often steps that get missed by some cabinet refinishing contractors. Many of them have a goal to get the project done as quickly as possible. This causes them to take shortcuts during the prep work and use low-quality products that are quick to apply. 

  1. Prepare the space

Boggs In Progress 39

Taking the time to lay drop cloths, mask edges, and cover up walls, countertops, and floors will prevent accidents and damage to other areas. If a contractor does not take the time to do this, they are trusting their steady hand, but they do not respect your space.

Spraying cabinets will require an extensive amount of prep work in comparison to brushing the cabinet boxes. However, masking and covering areas should still be done while brushing, to ensure clean lines and spotless spaces.

2. Take off the cabinet doors

Screenshot 2023-06-15 at 8.06.50 AM

To practice thorough and detailed work, the cabinet doors must come off to seamlessly work on the boxes and the doors separately. This step is usually fairly quick and easy, so it should not be overlooked. 

Cabinet doors need to be marked and hinges marked so everything goes back in the same place and ensure the doors will function properly.

Your cabinet refinishing company may take the doors back to their shop. Because cabinet doors and drawer fronts are what are most visible in your kitchen or bathroom, they need special attention. 

At Brush & Roll Painting, we have a climate-controlled shop, equipped with space and materials to get your cabinets refinished properly.

Detail and thoroughness are key. It may be a red flag if a cabinet refinishing company asks to use your basement or garage, or doesn’t take off the doors and drawers.  

3. Clean the cabinets

Hart In Progress 24

Cleaning cabinets before anything is mandatory. Without it, it’s like using a dirty plate from the sink. The first layer of dirt causes harm to the original surface. Then to make matters worse, layers are applied on top of the first layer. Each of those layers of product cannot perform its best without a clean foundation.

It won't be smooth if a product is applied on top of dirt or grime. It will also try and break through the products causing them to chip or peel. 



4. Sanding

Hart In Progress 26

Sanding is another step that must be done. The purpose of sanding is to create better adhesion from the previous layer to the next. 

Sanding can be a tricky step, so it’s important to have an experienced finisher or company complete this task. 





The results are only as good as the prep work

These 4 steps to thorough cabinet refinishing prep work is only half of the job. Correctly applying the high-quality, durable product on top of the base is the icing on the cake. 

While comparing quotes for cabinet refinishing and finding the best contractor, you will want to ask about their prep work process. Having a detailed prep work process or not, will make or break the results in the long run. 

Initially, the results might look up to your standards, but in a matter of months, if the work wasn’t done properly, the products will fail. 

Ensure a quality cabinet refinishing job and thorough prep work process with one of Omaha’s most trusted painting companies, Brush & Roll Painting. We take pride in and enjoy working through our detailed process, to obtain lasting results for our customers.


Next, learn about the other half of cabinet refinishing that will make or break the results; the product. One of the most common products other cabinet refinishers use is cabinet or woodwork paint. Here are some reasons why this might not be the best type of product for your next cabinet refinishing or painting project. 

Click here to learn about the significance of prep work before painting any surface in your home. 

Kaylea Kuhlman

Kaylea is the Brush & Roll Painting Content Manager.