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Old 02-22-2009, 05:02 PM   #1
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Question / Beautifying Cabinets


Hi folks, I'm back.

So far, I'm one-for-one in getting help here. I'm now an official Towel Rack Wizard, and have installed two towel racks and a toilet paper holder. Go me!

I'm not sure whether or not today's question belongs in Interior Decorating, but I guess it's good enough for a start.

My townhouse is about 18 years old, and the cabinets are looking pretty much the worse for wear. They're Merillat wood cabinets, and they're all over the house - in the kitchen and all of the bathrooms. They're functional, and I don't have the budget to replace them at this point, but I'd sure like to clean them up a bit and make them look a little nicer.

I've attached a picture of the cabinets below. I suspect the closest thing in their catalog now is this.



At this point, I'd rather make the wood look nice than paint them. Is there anything I can do to freshen them up, short of just tackling them with furniture polish?

Any thoughts?

Thanks!

Steve

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Old 02-22-2009, 05:45 PM   #2
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you'd be amazed how much nicer a quick cleaning and fresh coat of poly will look.

DM

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Old 02-23-2009, 07:42 AM   #3
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you'd be amazed how much nicer a quick cleaning and fresh coat of poly will look.

DM
OK, just to make clear my sheer lack of understanding of such things:

1. How does one clean cabinets?

2. What kind of poly does one buy? (And I'm assuming it means "polyurethane"...)

:D
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:16 AM   #4
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i'm sorry if i was unclear. most here recommend a mild ammonia solution to remove grease (in kitchen areas mainly) or a mild soap and damp rinse. with the lightly used ones shown below i got for $20 or $30 each, i lightly sanded only as these were in a school teacher's lounge and were in pretty good shape, just a bit of mold and grunge from sitting in the guy's storage shed for a year or more. and yup, poly is polyurethane. the shape yours are in, i'd consider just wiping them down to clean and SPRAY a quick coat of poly on them. of course, you risk the occasional run. if you drop the cabinet doors, lay them flat and brush them, you can still use the spray to touch up the framing. i totally agree with you though, painting beautiful wood is dumb. i just took this shot, and it flashed so you can't see easily how nice and shiny they are, but look at the edges in the background. they're sitting in the new dining room until i get the new entryway/kitchen done and mount them properly.

DM
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:29 AM   #5
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Much better, I'll give that a try.

To be clear, if I use a spray, I don't need to take the doors off? (At the risk of some running...?)

It certainly would be nice to get away with this without taking all of that hardware off!
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:39 AM   #6
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"To be clear, if I use a spray, I don't need to take the doors off? (At the risk of some running...?)"

absolutely correct. however, if you decide to use this approach, you might consider spending a few extra dollars and get spray LACQUER instead of poly. it dries ten times faster and doesn't leave a lot of time to run! be sure to completely clean and /or lightly sand any heavy traffic areas, such as bottom corners or around handles, if any.
also, in either case, be sure to open the windows/doors, run a fan, etc. to ventilate. stinky stuff that. gives me a headache.....

DM
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:41 AM   #7
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What kind of sandpaper, just the super-fine kind?

Any particular lacquers you would recommend? (I'm sure there's a jillion of those on the market, just to make the decision more difficult. )
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:47 AM   #8
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yup, just a nice fine grit to polish.
and i'll use any ol' brand of spray lacquer, most seem about the same to me, though rustoleum is a bit more pricey.
i got a 6 pack/box for $6 at a discount place here, so it pays to shop around. if not on sale, expect to pay a few $$$ a can.

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Old 02-23-2009, 08:51 AM   #9
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yup, just a nice fine grit to polish.
and i'll use any ol' brand of spray lacquer, most seem about the same to me, though rustoleum is a bit more pricey.
i got a 6 pack/box for $6 at a discount place here, so it pays to shop around. if not on sale, expect to pay a few $$$ a can.

DM
Hey, if I can make these cabinets look nicer for $20 and a little elbow grease, I'm going to be a happy camper.

Thanks very much for your help!

Steve
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Old 02-23-2009, 09:34 AM   #10
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there ya go! heck, look at what i did with $40 worth of stuff for my dining room ceiling! lol

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Old 02-23-2009, 12:38 PM   #11
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OK, here is what I did to freshen up our 20 year old oak kitchen cabinets.

I went and bought some stuff called "Restore a finish" from a local paint place. I bought Golden Oak.

http://www.howardproducts.com/restora.htm

All I had to do was wipe the cabinets with TSP, then rinse them off. Then I took a rag with the Restore A Finish and went over the cabinets.

It took me a couple of hours and $15 and my cabinets look fantastic.

So I am sure the experts will have a reason why this Restore A Finish isn't good, but it worked great for me.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:47 PM   #12
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What is "TSP"?
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:18 PM   #13
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Tri Sodium Phosphate -- I think.

It is used to clean walls/cabinets to get the dirt and grease etc off of them. It just ensures any painting (or staining) work you do is not impacted by dirt/grease on the wall/cabinet.

DangerMouse suggested "most here recommend a mild ammonia solution to remove grease (in kitchen areas mainly) or a mild soap and damp rinse".
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:22 PM   #14
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Trisodium Phosphate, strong de-greaser....but i don't think it's a necessity in your case, yours look to be in pretty good shape.
however, for durability and easy cleaning later, i'd still use a fresh coat of lacquer.

DM
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Last edited by DangerMouse; 02-23-2009 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Trisodium Phosphate, strong de-greaser....but i don't think it's a necessity in your case, yours look to be in pretty good shape.
however, for durability and easy cleaning later, i'd still use a fresh coat of lacquer.

DM
Yeah, they're not heavily soiled. Mainly they just look a little dry and faded. Perhaps there's a little more grease on the few above the oven range, but I don't think I need to bust out the heavy artillery just yet.

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