Give a New Look to Your Commercial Kitchens with Cabinet Refinishing

Is your commercial kitchen in need of a fresh, updated appearance? Whether you manage a restaurant, a café, or a catering service, the look and feel of your kitchen can significantly impact your staff’s efficiency and customers’ perceptions. One of the most effective and budget-friendly ways to revitalize your kitchen space is through cabinet refinishing. 

Cabinet refinishing is a transformative process that breathes new life into worn and outdated cabinets. In this article, we’ll discuss its benefits, tackle the process involved, and show how it can greatly improve your commercial kitchen’s functionality and appeal.

Understanding Cabinet Refinishing

When it comes to updating commercial kitchens, cabinet refinishing is a cost-effective and efficient solution that can transform the look and feel of your space. Let’s explore what cabinet refinishing entails, how it differs from other methods like refacing and replacing, and which types of cabinets can be refinished.

What is Cabinet Refinishing?

Cabinet refinishing involves restoring the surface of your existing cabinets to give them a fresh, new appearance. In commercial kitchens, this process typically includes cleaning, sanding, and applying a new finish to the cabinet surfaces. It’s an excellent option for businesses looking to update their kitchen’s look without the expense and disruption of a complete overhaul.

Refinishing vs. Refacing vs. Replacing

It’s important to understand the differences between cabinet refinishing, refacing, and replacing to choose the best option for your commercial kitchen:

  • Refinishing: This process focuses on renewing the cabinet surfaces by applying new paint, stain, or varnish. It’s ideal for structurally sound cabinets with a worn or outdated appearance.
  • Refacing: Refacing involves replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts and covering the existing cabinet boxes with a new veneer. This method provides a more significant change in appearance than refinishing but is still less expensive and time-consuming than a full replacement.
  • Replacing: This involves removing the old cabinets and installing new ones. While it offers the most flexibility in terms of design and layout changes, it’s also the most costly and disruptive option.

Types of Cabinets That Can Be Refinished

Various types of cabinets can benefit from refinishing, including:

  • Wood Cabinets: These are the most common type of cabinet for refinishing. Wood can be sanded down and stained or painted to achieve a new look.
  • Laminate Cabinets: While more challenging to refinish than wood, laminate cabinets can still be updated with specialized primers and paints designed for slick surfaces.
  • Metal Cabinets: Often found in commercial kitchens, metal cabinets can be refinished with the appropriate products to prevent rust and provide a fresh, clean appearance.

By understanding the refinishing process and the types of cabinets suitable for it, you can make an informed decision about updating your commercial kitchen. This approach improves the aesthetic appeal and extends the lifespan of your cabinetry. It ensures a practical and attractive workspace for years to come.

Benefits of Refinishing Over Replacing

Benefits of Refinishing Over Replacing

Choosing to refinish your commercial kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them offers several compelling benefits, particularly in terms of cost and time efficiency.

Cost Comparison Between Refinishing and Replacing Cabinets

One of the most significant advantages of refinishing cabinets is the cost savings compared to replacing them. 

  • Refinishing: The process involves sanding, painting, or staining the existing cabinets. The costs typically include materials such as sandpaper, paint or stain, and labor. On average, refinishing cabinets can cost between $3 to $10 per square foot, depending on the quality of materials and the complexity of the job.
  • Replacing: This involves purchasing new cabinets, which can be significantly more expensive. In addition to the cost of the cabinets themselves, you must also consider the costs of demolition, disposal of the old cabinets, and installation. On average, replacing cabinets can cost between $100 to $500 per linear foot, making it a much pricier option than refinishing.

Overall, refinishing can save you up to 60-70% of the cost of replacing your cabinets, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to manage their budgets effectively.

Time Efficiency of Refinishing Projects Versus Full Replacements

In addition to cost savings, refinishing cabinets is also much more time-efficient than replacing them. Here’s why:

  • Refinishing: The process of refinishing cabinets can often be completed within a few days to a week, depending on the size of the kitchen and the extent of the work required. This includes time for sanding, applying the new finish, and allowing it to dry.
  • Replacing: Replacing cabinets is a much more involved process. It starts with the removal of the old cabinets, which can take several days. This is followed by any necessary repairs or adjustments to the kitchen layout, installing the new cabinets, and finishing touches like hardware installation and painting. The entire process can take several weeks to complete, causing significant disruption to your kitchen operations.

Refinishing not only saves time but also minimizes downtime for your business, allowing you to continue operations with minimal interruption. This is especially crucial for commercial kitchens, where extended downtime can result in lost revenue and customer inconvenience.

Choosing to refinish your cabinets instead of replacing them offers clear benefits in terms of both cost and time efficiency. It allows you to achieve a fresh, updated look for your commercial kitchen without the high expenses and prolonged disruptions associated with a full replacement.

Design Considerations and Trends

White kitchen cabinet

Refinishing your commercial kitchen cabinets offers a great opportunity to incorporate the latest design trends and enhance the overall aesthetic of your space.

Current Trends in Cabinet Design

Refinishing allows you to transform the look of your cabinets to align with modern trends. Here are some popular trends you can achieve through refinishing:

  • Bold Colors: Vibrant hues such as deep blues, forest greens, and rich charcoal grays are in vogue. These colors can make a statement and add a contemporary feel to your kitchen.
  • Matte Finishes: Matte finishes are gaining popularity for their sophisticated and sleek look. They provide a modern touch without the shine of traditional glossy finishes.
  • Two-Tone Cabinets: Mixing two colors, such as a darker shade for the lower cabinets and a lighter one for the upper cabinets, creates a dynamic and visually appealing contrast.
  • Natural Wood Grain: If you prefer a more classic look, refinishing with a clear stain that highlights the natural wood grain can add warmth and elegance to your kitchen.
  • Modern Hardware: Updating cabinet hardware with modern handles and knobs can significantly enhance the overall look. Options like brushed nickel, matte black, or brass are trending choices.

Tips on Choosing Styles That Complement Your Kitchen

When refinishing your cabinets, it’s important to choose styles that harmonize with the overall design of your kitchen. Here are some tips to help you make the best choice:

  • Consider the Existing Decor: Ensure that the new cabinet finish complements the existing elements of your kitchen, such as the countertops, flooring, and appliances.
  • Balance and Contrast: If your kitchen has a lot of bold features, consider a more neutral cabinet finish to balance the design. Conversely, if your kitchen is relatively neutral, a bold cabinet color can serve as a focal point.
  • Functional Design: Choose styles and finishes that are not only visually appealing but also practical for a busy commercial kitchen environment. Durable and easy-to-clean surfaces are essential.
  • Cohesive Theme: If your establishment has a specific theme or branding, ensure the cabinet design aligns with it. For instance, a rustic theme might benefit from distressed finishes, while a modern theme might call for sleek, minimalist designs.

Maintaining a Professional and Clean Appearance

In a commercial kitchen, maintaining a professional and clean appearance is crucial for meeting industry standards and ensuring a safe working environment. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  • Durable Finishes: Choose finishes that can withstand the rigors of a commercial kitchen, including frequent cleaning and exposure to heat, moisture, and grease.
  • Easy-to-Clean Surfaces: Choose smooth, non-porous finishes that are easy to wipe down and sanitize, helping you maintain hygiene standards.
  • Consistent Maintenance: Regularly clean and inspect your cabinets to keep them looking fresh and professional. Address any signs of wear and tear promptly to prevent further damage.
  • Compliance with Health Regulations: Ensure that your refinished cabinets meet all relevant health and safety regulations. This includes using non-toxic, food-safe materials and maintaining a clean and organized workspace.

The Refinishing Process

tools for the manufacture of furniture

Refinishing your commercial kitchen cabinets can breathe new life into your space. Understanding the step-by-step process, necessary preparations, and the materials and tools required will help you decide whether to tackle this project yourself or hire professionals.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Refinishing Process

  1. Clear the Area: Remove all items from the cabinets and clear the surrounding workspace to ensure safety and ease of movement.
  2. Label and Remove Hardware: Label each cabinet door and drawer front for easy reassembly. Remove all hardware, including hinges, handles, and knobs.
  3. Clean: Thoroughly clean the cabinets to remove grease, dirt, and grime. Use a degreaser or a mixture of warm water and mild detergent.
  4. Sand: Sand the cabinet surfaces to remove the old finish and create a smooth base for the new finish. Start with coarse-grit sandpaper and progress to finer grits.
  5. Fill Imperfections: Fill any holes, dents, or scratches with wood filler. Once dry, sand the filled areas until smooth.
  6. Inspect and Repair: Check for any structural issues or loose joints and make necessary repairs.
  7. Apply Primer: Apply a high-quality primer to ensure better adhesion of the new finish. Use a brush for detailed areas and a roller for larger surfaces.
  8. Dry and Sand: Allow the primer to dry completely, then lightly sand it with fine-grit sandpaper for a smooth surface.
  9. Apply New Finish: Apply the chosen paint or stain. For paint, use a brush or roller for even coverage. For stains, apply with a cloth or brush and wipe off the excess. Apply multiple thin coats, allowing each coat to dry completely, and sand lightly between coats for the best finish. For added durability, apply a clear topcoat or sealant.
  10. Reassembly: Once the finish is fully cured, reattach the hardware to the cabinet doors and drawers. Reassemble the cabinets, ensuring everything is aligned correctly.

Necessary Preparations

Proper preparation is crucial for a successful refinishing project:

  • Cleaning: Use a strong degreaser to clean all surfaces thoroughly.
  • Sanding: Sand all surfaces to remove old finishes and create a smooth base.
  • Safety Measures: Wear protective gear such as gloves, safety glasses, and masks to protect yourself from dust and fumes.

Materials and Tools Needed

The materials and tools you’ll need can vary depending on whether you choose a DIY approach or hire professionals.

DIY Project:

  • Materials: Degreaser, sandpaper (various grits), wood filler, primer, paint or stain, clear topcoat (optional), painter’s tape, and drop cloths.
  • Tools: Screwdriver, putty knife, paintbrushes, rollers, sanding block or electric sander, cloths, and rags.

Professional Execution:

  • Materials: High-quality commercial-grade primers, paints, stains, and sealants.
  • Tools: Professional-grade sanders, sprayers for a smooth finish, specialized cleaning and stripping agents, and repair tools.

Professionals typically have access to better materials and tools and possess the experience needed to achieve a flawless finish. However, a DIY project can yield excellent results with careful preparation and attention to detail.

Choosing the Right Professional

Choosing the Right Professional

Selecting the right professional for your cabinet refinishing project is crucial to achieving the best results. Here are a few tips:

What to Look for in a Professional Refinishing Service

When choosing a professional refinishing service, consider the following factors to ensure you select a reputable and skilled contractor:

  • Experience and Expertise: Look for professionals with extensive experience in cabinet refinishing, particularly in commercial settings. Experienced contractors will have the skills and knowledge to handle the unique challenges of a commercial kitchen.
  • Portfolio of Work: Review the contractor’s portfolio to see examples of their previous work. This can give you an idea of their style, quality, and attention to detail.
  • References and Reviews: Check for references from past clients and read online reviews. Positive feedback and recommendations can provide confidence in the contractor’s reliability and workmanship.
  • Licensing and Insurance: Ensure the contractor is licensed and insured. This protects you in case of any accidents or damage during the project.
  • Materials and Techniques: Inquire about the materials and techniques they use. High-quality, durable materials and modern refinishing techniques are essential for a long-lasting, professional finish.
  • Timeline and Availability: Confirm the contractor’s availability and estimated timeline for completing the project. Ensure their schedule aligns with your needs to minimize downtime in your commercial kitchen.

Questions to Ask Potential Contractors

Before hiring a contractor, ask the following questions to gauge their suitability for your project:

  • How many years of experience do you have in cabinet refinishing, particularly in commercial kitchens? This question helps you understand the contractor’s level of expertise and familiarity with the demands of a commercial environment.
  • Can you provide references from previous clients and examples of your work? Reviewing past work and speaking with previous clients can give insight into the contractor’s reliability and quality of work.
  • What materials and finishes do you recommend for my specific needs? A knowledgeable contractor should be able to suggest the best materials and finishes based on your kitchen’s usage and aesthetic preferences.
  • What is your process for preparing and refinishing cabinets? Understanding their process ensures they follow thorough and professional steps, from preparation to the final finish.
  • Are you licensed and insured? Verifying their licensing and insurance protects you from potential liabilities and ensures the contractor adheres to industry standards.
  • What is the estimated timeline for completing the project? Knowing the timeline helps you plan for any necessary adjustments to your kitchen operations during the refinishing process.
  • Do you offer a warranty or guarantee on your work? A warranty or guarantee provides peace of mind that the contractor stands behind their work and will address any issues that arise after the project is completed.
  • How do you handle clean-up and disposal of old materials? Ensuring the contractor manages clean-up and disposal properly is crucial for maintaining a safe and orderly work environment.
  • What is the total cost estimate, and are there any potential additional charges? Getting a clear cost estimate upfront helps you budget for the project and avoid unexpected expenses.

Choosing the right professional for your cabinet refinishing project involves careful consideration of their experience, reputation, and approach to the job. By asking these key questions and evaluating their responses, you can make the right decision and ensure a successful and satisfying refinishing project for your commercial kitchen.


Refinishing your commercial kitchen cabinets is a cost-effective and efficient way to give your space a fresh, modern look. By understanding the refinishing process, considering the latest design trends, and choosing the right professional, you can achieve stunning results that enhance both functionality and aesthetics.

For expert cabinet refinishing services, contact Custom Painting, Inc. at 925-686-0903 or fill out our contact form. Transform your commercial kitchen with a new look today!