Sanding Kitchen Cabinet Doors Before Priming

Welcome to our Budget DIY Kitchen Remodel project. Links to each step of the project can be found on our Budget DIY Kitchen Remodel home page.

With the stripping done, the next step is to sand the cabinet doors. Sanding kitchen cabinet doors is easy, even if you’ve never done it before (I hadn’t!):

  1. Sand with a coarse grit to remove varnish
  2. Wipe clean
  3. Sand with a fine grit to smooth everything out
  4. Wipe super clean

Sanding part 1: Coarse Grit (60)

A powered sander (I use a corner sander) is absolutely essential if you’re going to be refinishing your own cabinets. Do not attempt this using sandpaper alone – you’ll go crazy, and you probably won’t get as smooth a finish. My sanders are a Black and Decker and a Ryobi, and both are excellent.

If you’re in the market for a corner sander, this Genesis corner sander is Amazon’s best rated and it’s cheaper than what I paid for either of mine.


The Genesis corner sander even comes with sandpaper pads!

I first used 60 grit sandpaper to remove any remaining varnish from each cabinet door face.

sanding cabinet faces with coarse grit


Sanding part 2: Fine Grit (200)

I did a second sanding pass with a finer grit sand paper (grit 200) to make the faces smoother.

sanding cabinet faces in preparation for painting


I don’t have a scientific method for knowing when to switch grits or knowing when I’m done.  Basically, when the wood looked shine-free (no varnish) and had a smooth texture, I was done.  I did both sides and all the edges of the cabinets before handing them off to Jim for final wiping and drying.

I wiped each cabinet down with a wet towel to remove any lingering dust or sanding debris before moving onto the next step: primer!

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