How To Restore Wood Cabinets? [Every Possible Way That You Need To Know]




Hey there DIY freaks!

Actually, this craziness of restoring wooden pieces is the reason behind my becoming a professional. However, did you know you can actually restore your wood kitchen cabinets on your own?

I know! I know! You might be wondering how to restore wood cabinets? And I can bet if you are here, you are someone exactly like me who likes to try DIY techniques to restore wood furniture.

No worries! I am going to share all the possible ways to restore your wood cabinets. Yes, of course, you heard it right!

Before I start explaining, let me show a single glimpse of the entire process;

How To Restore Wood Cabinets

Restore Wood Cabinets

The first thing one needs to do is to inspect your cabinets, find all the issues, and clean them. Right after that, fix the issues, strip off the old finish, and sand the cabinet surfaces. Finish the process by applying the right wood finish to get a smooth finish look. You can apply sealant as well.

Rushing to start restoring your cabinets already? Don’t! Because you just had a single glimpse of the entire process. Let’s explore the entire process ahead!

Estimated CostEstimated DurationSkill Level
$10024 HoursBeginner

Summery of the article is-

  • You need to use chemical strippers to refinish the cabinets without sanding.
  • Sanding is necessary to gain a smooth surface for your cabinets.
  • Applying a protective layer can protect your cabinets from any kind of damage.

Common Signs Of Wear And Damage That May Indicate The Need For Restoring Wood Cabinets

Well, before you really dive deeper into the thoughts about how to repair wood cabinets, you should learn about the signs that can help you understand that your cabinets need to be repaired.

To be very honest, this is needed. I mean how would you decide to restore your cabinets if you don’t know when to restore them? Wanna know about the signs? Let me help you, buddy!

Scratches, Dents, And Scuffs

If you are noticing visible scratches, dents, and scuffs on the surfaces of your cabinets, it is time to restore your cabinets.


Noticing swelling, warping, or discoloration caused by water exposure on your cabinets? It is your turn to restore the cabinets.

Fading Or Worn Finish

If the cabinets’ finish is fading away or coming off, you need to restore them. Or else, your cabinets will start looking ugly day by day.

Loose Joints And Hardware

If the joints, hinges, drawer slides, etc of the cabinets are loose or the cabinets are wobbling, this is a sign that you need to fix the wobbly cabinets.

Cracked Or Split Wood

Are you figuring out some cracks or splits in the wood? This is actually important for you to restore the cabinets. Otherwise, this problem will increase.

Damaged Or Broken Parts

It is really important to fix any damaged or broken parts of your cabinets. Are you noticing these issues? Now it is time to fix the broken cabinets to restore them.

How To Restore Wood Cabinets?

Now, let’s break your wait! Yes! You guessed it right, buddy! Let me tell you as an expert how I restore my precious cabinets. Here you go!

How To Restore Wood Cabinets

Gather The Necessary Tools a Materials

Actually, this is really necessary to gather the tools and materials ready before you start the process. I always do this. Do you know what necessary things to gather?

I gather sandpaper, a putty knife, wood filler, paintbrush, clean cloth, safety gear, matching color finish, and appropriate sealant. You need to gather them as well.

Prepare The Cabinets

After gathering the necessary tools and materials, I directly start preparing the cabinets. I start this step by removing the hardware and cabinet doors.

Then I clean the entire cabinet with mild soapy water and a soft cloth. And if the cabinets are out-of-square. You can fix the out-of-square cabinets in this chance.

Repair The Damage

Then, I inspect the cabinets really nicely and find the damage like scratches, dents, cracks, holes, etc.

After pointing out all the damaged areas, I used wood filler to the damaged area with a putty knife and let it dry completely. After the filler dries, I sand the areas to make them equal to the surrounding areas.

But here is a piece of advice for you, do not forget to remove the excess filler from the damaged areas.

Remove The Old Finish

Actually, removing the old existing finishes is very important to gain a smooth surface and finish look. So what are you thinking about?

Now, this is time to remove the existing finish. With the help of fine-grit sandpaper, sand the cabinets lightly and remove the old finish completely.

Let me tell you an important thing, clean the cabinets after you’re done with sanding and remove the dust and debris.

Apply New Finish And Sealant

Now we are really close to the end. It is time to apply a new finish. But in this case, it is important to match the color with the existing color of the cabinets.

You need to use a paintbrush to apply the finish. I evenly apply the finish with a paintbrush. If needed I apply more coats of finish. However, it is important to let each coat dry before applying another.

To be honest, I apply sealant like varnish or polyurethane, etc after the finish to add protective layers to my cabinets. This is because it provides the cabinets with durable and protective layers and protects the cabinets from damage.

However, if you want, you can try to add depth to the kitchen cabinets while restoring.

How To Treat Dry Wood Cabinets?

Actually, this is really the most asked question. However, to treat dry wood cabinets you need to apply a high-quality wood conditioner.

Because it will nourish and moisturize the cabinets. You can repeat the process if needed or if you wish to do so.

Restore The Wood Cabinet Doors

I know, you might be thinking about how to repair wood cabinet doors. Basically, you need to remove the doors, if needed you need to replace the hardware and follow the same steps above to restore the doors.

Refinish The Wood Cabinets With Stains

Actually, to refinish the wood cabinets with stains, I choose the stains of matched color and apply them with a paintbrush. I applied more coats if needed. I let my cabinets dry properly before using them.

Somehow, if you are wondering, how to refinish cabinets with paint, let me tell you the process is the same for this.

Refinish The Wood Cabinets Without Sanding

How to refinish wood cabinets without sanding? Actually, you need to use chemical strippers for this. Or else you can use steel wool as well. The rest is the same for this step.

Now if anyone asks you, How do you restore wood cabinets without sanding? You have a proper solution for this. Don’t you?

Restore The Cabinets Without Sanding And Varnishing

Wondering how to restore kitchen cabinets without sanding and varnishing? Actually, instead of sandpaper you need to use chemical strippers and the rest of the process is the same and you can actually pass the varnishing steps.

Just make sure you are applying the stain or paint in a proper way and evenly.

How To Fix Worn Spots On Kitchen Cabinets?

It is actually true that worn spots on kitchen cabinets make the cabinets look really ugly. At least, I don’t like to spot them on my cabinets. If you are someone like me, let me tell you the solution is really easy.

Wanna know the easiest solution to solve this issue? Well, why do you need to go anywhere else when I am here to share the easiest solution with you?

Here you go;

Clean The Cabinets

Actually, the first thing that you need to do is to clean the cabinets and point out all the worn spots on your cabinets. 

Sand The Problematic Areas

After pointing out the cabinets, sand the worn spotted areas gently with a fine-grit sandpaper. Well, one question that my clients ask me the most is how to fix wood cabinet finishes that are loose and about to come off.

Actually, you need to sand these loose finishes with the problematic area as well and this is the solution. However, you can use mineral spirits or synthetic steel wool if you want to know how to refinish kitchen cabinets without stripping.

Apply Wood Filler

Now, you need to apply wood filler on the worn spots and on any other damages like scratches, dents, cracks, etc using a putty knife. Do not forget to remove the excess filler from the problematic areas.

Let the wood filler dry completely before you move forward. After the filler dries, you need to sand the areas to make them equal to the surrounding areas.

Apply Finish

Now the last thing, you need to apply a finish like a stain or paint. Make sure the finish matches the color of the surrounding areas.

Otherwise, all the efforts you put into fixing the cabinets will be ruined. Apply the finish with a paint brush. Do not forget the cabinet frame. Let the finish dry before you start using the cabinets. You can fix a dog-chewed corner of a cabinet the same way.

Now, enjoy the new though repaired look of your cabinets.

How Do You Make My Wood Cabinets Look New Again?

What if I tell you, you can make your wood cabinets look new again? This is the happiest news for anyone who is trying to restore his or her wood cabinets. Ain’t I right?

Let me tell you how you can do that.

How Do You Make My Wood Cabinets Look New Again
Deep CleaningYou can clean the cabinets deeply to make them neat and clean like new cabinets. Using a wood cleaner you can clean the dirt, grease, and grime and give them a refreshed look.
Repairing damaged areasYou can repair the damage like scratches, dents, cracks, holes, worn spots, etc with wood filler, and sand the areas to get smooth surfaces. Thus, you can enjoy the repaired cabinets that look really new.
Refinishing the cabinetsYou can apply a new finish like stain to refinish your cabinets and make them look like new pieces.  If you are wondering if can you refinish cabinets with paints, let me tell you, you can. How to refinish wood cabinets with paint? The process is actually the same as refinishing the cabinets with stains.
Replacing hardwareNow, let me tell you an easy and my favorite method to make cabinets look new, replacing hardware. You can replace the hardware like handles, hinges, cabinet knobs, or drawer pulls even if they are not damaged with beautiful and modern hardware to make the cabinets look stylish, modern, and new.
Deep conditioningYou can try wood conditioner or wood polish to nourish the wood and enhance the natural beauty of the cabinets.
Organizing and declutteringYou can organize and declutter the items inside of the cabinets. This can bring you an organized, tidy, and fresh look. You can also add bun feet to kitchen cabinets for a change.

What Is The Best Product To Revitalize Wood Cabinets?

To be honest, there are many cabinet restore products available nowadays and this is really confusing to understand whether these all are perfect for wood cabinets or not.

However, let me tell you something really important, there are really some best products available to revitalize wood cabinets. I’m not kidding at all! I am absolutely right. Let me put the list for your dear,

  • Wood cleaner
  • Wood polish
  • Furniture wax
  • Wood stain
  • Varnish or polyurethane
  • Microfiber cloths

Actually, these products can definitely help you to restore the natural beauty of the wood and make it look really amazing. Wanna know how? Let’s roll it!

Wood Cleaner

This is an amazing option to remove the dirt, grease, and grime from the cabinets. The good thing about it is, it does this without damaging the kitchen cabinets.

Wood Polish

If anyone asks you how to restore wood cabinet doors shine along with the entire cabinets, what would be your answer? Let me help you, wood polish should be your answer. Why is that so?

Actually, wood polish helps to regain the shine and increase the shininess and beauty of the cabinets.

Besides, it adds a protective layer on the wood and helps to protect the cabinets and the original finish from any kind of damage.

Furniture Wax

Basically, furniture wax is really helpful to nourish and protect wood cabinets. It can provide you with a smooth finish.

Somehow if you are wondering how to fix wood cabinet scratches, furniture wax is a good option for you to conceal the scratches.

Wood Stain

If your cabinets lose color and face discoloration issues, refinishing is the best option for you, and refinishing with stain is one of the best choices.

No, I am not lying to you. This is actually a good decision. But if you are thinking about how to refinish cabinets with stain I have the solution buddy like I mentioned above.

You need to take a matching color of stain and apply it evenly with a paint brush. But before applying stain do not forget to remove thermofoil from the cabinets if you have any. Boom! What next? Enjoy the regained beautiful look of your cabinets!

Varnish Or Polyurethane

Actually, I would say if you are thinking about enhancing the natural grain of the wood and want a durable finish, varnish, and polyurethane are the best options for you so far.

Well, you need to buff the varnish after it dries. So, try to use tack cloth for this. Thus you can get a smooth surface.

Microfiber Cloth

Well, dear answer me with something honest, did you know all types of clothes are not actually suitable for cleaning your cabinets? To be honest, half of you may not!

However, you can use microfiber cloths to clean your cabinets and to apply products on them. Because it can protect the cabinets from getting scratched and all.

DIY: How restore wood cabinet finishes!

Tricks To Remove Different Types Of Stains From Cabinets 

The different types of stains on cabinets are really noticeable and the ugliest thing on furniture. Aren’t they? At least, for me, these are really annoying and these stains ruin the beauty of my wooden pieces.

But how to clean and restore wood cabinets by removing this kind of stain?

However, there are really some tricks to remove these stains from cabinets. Yes! This is possible for real. Wanna know how to remove them? Let me help you with this!

But before that, let me ask you something buddy! Do you know what possible kinds of stains can appear on wood cabinets? If not, here is a list;

  • Water stains
  • Grease stains
  • Stubborn stains
  • Oil-based stains
  • Ink stains, etc.

Well, here are the easiest solutions to remove the stains from your wood cabinets;

Water StainsGrease StainsStubborn StainsOil-Based StainsInk Stains
You need to make a paste with baking soda and non-gel toothpaste and rub it on the stained areas gently using a soft cloth. Then you need to remove the paste with a dry and clean cloth and buff the areas.You need to create mild soapy water with warm water and mild dish soap and with the help of a sponge you need to scrub the greased stained area really well. Then you have to clean the areas with clean water and dry the cabinets completely.Actually, for stubborn stains, you need to apply a paste of baking soda and water and leave it for a few minutes. And then with a damp cloth, you need to rinse off the paste and let the cabinet surfaces dry.The solution to these kinds of stains is really easy. You need to use a solution of vinegar and water and apply it to the stained area. After a while, you need to wipe off the solution with a clean damp cloth.Actually, you need rubbing alcohol to remove ink stains. Blot the ink stains gently with a cloth until the ink transfers on the cloth. You can repeat the process if needed but take a clean cloth every time.

Let me share a secret hack with you, I like to use elbow grease to wipe away the stubborn stains on wood cabinets and surprisingly this hack works really well.

Tips To Save Further Damage To Wood Cabinets

Actually, I must say one thing, the saddest part is when your restored cabinets or furniture gets old and damaged again. Isn’t it? I can bet it is! Because it makes one think that all the efforts have failed.

But what if I tell you you can be the reason behind these damaged and old cabinets? For sure you are going to think how do you make wood cabinets look old?

Actually not maintaining the cabinets properly is the main reason behind these issues. But now the question is how to save further damage to wood cabinets.

No need to be worried. As an expert, I am here with some tips to prevent further damage to wood cabinets. Here you go;

  • Clean the cabinets regularly with mild soapy water. You need to make it with mild soap and warm water. It will remove the grease and grime from the cabinets. But make sure you are using completely hot water as it can damage the wood.
  • Try to use a clean cloth when cleaning your cabinets to avoid getting stains.
  • If you are using a damp cloth for cleaning the cabinets make sure you are letting the cabinets dry properly.
  • Keep one thing in mind, all kinds of clothes are good for cleaning your cabinets. Try to use a damp microfiber cloth or soft cloth as it will not damage the cabinet surfaces.
  • Do not directly chop anything on the cabinet surfaces as it can destroy the smooth surface. Try to use chopping boards always.
  • Always use clean water to clean the cabinets.
  • Wipe off the spills immediately right after it falls as it can leave stains.
  • It is necessary to maintain the humidity level of the kitchen as an imbalanced humidity level can damage the cabinets.
  • Always handle the cabinet doors and drawers gently to avoid damaging the cabinets.
  • Do not overload the cabinets with heavy items as it can cause structural damage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Can I Use Olive Oil On My Cabinets?

Yes! You can definitely use olive oil on your cabinets to enhance their natural shine.

What Types Of Damage Can Occur To Wood Cabinets?

Actually, many types of damage can occur to wood cabinets such as scratches, dents, cracks, holes, worn spots, stains, water-damages, broken or damaged hardware, etc.

Is It Necessary To Remove Cabinet Hardware Before Starting The Restoration Process?

It is undoubtedly necessary to remove cabinet hardware before starting the restoration process to get perfectly restored cabinets.

What Is The Best Oil For Kitchen Cabinets?

Furniture oil that is designed to be used on wooden pieces is the best oil for kitchen cabinets.


How to restore wood cabinets? This is really easy, right? Actually, getting a fruitful result is easy if you follow the guidelines mentioned above.

I have restored my cabinets the same way and trust me the result was enough to put in that much effort.

So now when you already know the easiest and best methods, what are you waiting for?

Start restoring your wood cabinets and enjoy the best result!

Good luck!
If you want to learn more restoration processes like this, stay with- Restore Journey.

Richard Journey

Written by

Richard Journey

Meet Richard Journey, the Antique Furniture Maestro. With a Fine Arts degree in Furniture Restoration and Conservation, he’s a guardian of historical craftsmanship. His accolades include the Golden Chisel Award, and he’s your guide to discovering and restoring antique treasures.

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