Pro Tips for Stripping Paint From Cabinets

Updated on April 3, 2019
Matt G. profile image

Matt is a professional painter and freelance writer, sharing his knowledge, house-painting tips, and product reviews.

Pro tips for stripping the paint off your kitchen cabinets.
Pro tips for stripping the paint off your kitchen cabinets.

Do You Need to Strip the Paint from Your Cabinets?

There are a few situations in which you may need to strip the paint off your cabinets.

  • Cabinet stripping is necessary if the goal is to stain them.
  • If you're repainting them, but the existing paint is failing, you must remove all of the old paint first. Painting cabinets with failing paint underneath is like building a house on top sand. Eventually the old paint will deteriorate, along with the new paint you worked really hard to apply.

What if the cabinet paint is stained, but not cracked or flaking?

Cabinets with tannin stains in the existing paint, but without signs of paint failure, don't necessarily need to be stripped. Tannin staining happens when oils inside the wood bleed into paint and become visible. This is called tannin bleed-through.

Bleed-through usually happens when wood isn't primed, or when the wrong primer was used. In this situation, stripping paint from the cabinets isn't needed as long as the old paint is intact. You could simply wash them, prime with a good stain blocking sealer, and paint.

What about sanding instead of stripping the paint?

A good sanding, using coarse enough sandpaper grit, will remove some of the paint, but this process will take a lot longer than using a chemical stripper, and aggressive sanding can also damage the profile of cabinet doors.

A light sanding at the end is good, though, to remove the last bits of the old paint from the surface after most of the paint layers have been removed with chemicals.

The Best Paint Stripper for Wood

Heavy duty rubber gloves and safety goggles need to be worn when working with paint stripper. Most contain caustic chemicals, including methylene chloride, a chemical that can burn your skin with direct contact.

Fortunately, there are alternative paint strippers with less nasty chemical components, one of which is CitriStrip, a stripping gel I've used several times to take paint off cabinet doors. This product does not contain methylene chloride, and the orange scent is much more tolerable than other products I've worked with in the past. You need to reapply this product more than once in layers, but it works great. The stripper is thick, like a pasty gel, for easier application on vertical surfaces, and you can apply a thick layer to break down the paint faster.

Products like Zip Strip are very effective too, but this one does contain methylene chloride. The brands Jasco and Klean-Strip have available options too, but I've never used them.

How to Strip Paint From Cabinets

  1. The first step is to remove all of the cabinet doors and hinges and set up a work space in a well-aired spot, preferably outside or in a garage with the door open. The more ventilation, the better.
  2. Make sure the kitchen floors are protected before applying paint stripper, and be very careful not to splash appliances or any plastic surfaces you want to maintain.
  3. I always carefully cover and mask appliances first and move the refrigerator away from the cabinets, if possible.
  4. Always use an inexpensive, throw-away paint brush to apply stripper. No need to ruin a good paint brush.
  5. Pour the chemical into the container of your choice wearing protective gloves and a mask.
  6. Dip your brush into the stripper gel and apply a thick layer over the painted cabinet doors. Paint stripper gel contains wax to help slow down the evaporation process. After about twenty minutes, the paint will start to bubble and lift from the surface. You can speed up this effect by placing sheets of wax paper over the cabinet doors. This will slow the drying.
  7. After the old paint starts to bubble, remove the wax paper and start scraping with a plastic scraper, not metal. Using a metal scraper is more likely to leave scratch marks in the wood. Multiple layers of paint stripper might be needed, depending on the type of paint and how many layers are on the doors.
  8. Repeat the same process for the cabinet frames.
  9. Latex paint is the easiest to remove, but oil-based paint takes a little more time. You can clean up the doors at the end with a light sanding, followed by a rinse with dish soap.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Matt G.

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, dengarden.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://dengarden.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)