Cabinet refinishing simply means you’re changing the color or the finish of the cabinets. It’s when you take those old dusty grandma cabinets and spice them up a little. It usually involves paint, but can also be done by staining, glazing, or custom finish work.

It essentially means you’re trying to restore the cabinets, but you’re not usually restoring them back to their original finish. You’re mixing things up a little and making them look different.

Okay, now that we explained a little about what it is–and a little about what it isn’t, let’s talk about the different cabinet refinishing options. There’s three levels to cabinet refinishing that define the quality of work you would like to be put into them.

Of course, not all painting companies have the same processes. The following images explore how Colorito defines the 3 different levels of quality involved in cabinet refinishing. Other painters may have different definitions or even processes.

Cabinet Painting

Sanded, primed with shellac primer, and painted with two coats of urethane enamel for a very clean and durable finish.

Cabinet Refinishing

We take the cabinets down to bare wood, use wood filler on scratches and dents, primed, then two coats of lacquer are applied.

Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet bases are taken down to bare wood, scratches and dents are fixed, we replace your doors and drawers. Painted with laquer.

Above this text you should see 3 different pictures with three different terms. There’s cabinet painting, cabinet refinishing, and cabinet refacing. This might get a little confusing, but I ask you to bare with me. Hopefully I’ll be able to explain the differences in a way that everyone will understand–not just painters.

Okay, so like I was saying before, cabinet refinishing has 3 levels to it. The first level is cabinet painting. USUALLY what this means is the painter will just put some paint on your cabinets. Does it make your cabinets look new? Sure does, but there are a lot of details that are missed with this service.

When you’re refinishing cabinets, you’re not dealing with perfect cabinets. There’s usually; cracks in the wood, spaces between the individual cabinets, dents in the surface, cracking, bubbling, or lift in the veneer finish, and a bunch of other problems.

When you’re paying for cabinet painting, most painters will skip out on these imperfections all together. It’s not a bad thing, it just depends on your personal preference as the home owner.

There may even be a wood grain in your cabinet surface that you don’t like. Maybe you want to get rid of it and achieve that ‘factory-like’ finish. This isn’t something you’ll find with normal cabinet painting services.

The only thing that could be seen as bad–lack of prep work and the wrong paint being used on cabinets. We’ll cover this in other sections of this guide. Such as the “Does paint quality matter?” and “What’s the cabinet refinishing process?”

The next level is cabinet refinishing. As I’ve already explained, it’s paying more attention to the finer details. It’s taking the cabinet painting OR staining to the next level and making it even better than it was. It’s not just throwing some paint on the cabinets hoping the imperfections get covered up.

We’ve already gone into quite a bit of detail on the second quality level of cabinet refinishing. Let’s talk about the third, and last level, of cabinet refinishing–cabinet resurfacing.

Cabinet resurfacing means to remove and replace major aspects of the cabinet’s surface. For Colorito, it only involves replacing the doors and drawer faces. Some companies may replace the entire frame or add cabinet faces to the cabinet siding.