How To Fix Faded Kitchen Cabinets

How To Fix Faded Kitchen Cabinets featured photo

If you have ever noticed worn spots on your wood kitchen cabinets, it might be a sign that they are starting to fade and discolor. Kitchen cabinets tend to fade over time even if you care for them regularly. However, there are things you can do to restore faded kitchen cabinets to make them shiny and look new again.

Repainting and refinishing kitchen cabinets are effective in bringing back the shine on wooden cabinets. If you like the natural wood coloring of your cabinets, you don’t have to repaint them.

In this article, we have listed a step-by-step guide on how to fix faded kitchen cabinets. While it is an easy process, it does take a lot of time. The supplies you will need are also listed in this article to prepare you for fixing your faded cabinets.

What Causes Wood Cabinets To Fade

What Causes Wood Cabinets To Fade

Kitchen cabinets fade and sometimes get discolored for several reasons. Exposure to direct sunlight is one of the main reasons for discoloration in kitchen cabinets. The sun’s UV rays can either lighten or darken your kitchen cabinet. Constant exposure to sunlight can also turn white cabinets to yellow. Aside from exposure to sunlight, exposure to moisture can also lead to kitchen cabinet fading.

Another reason for kitchen cabinets fading over time is because of cooking. The grease from the oil that splatters into your kitchen cabinet can cause worn spots to appear. While we always want a clean cabinet, using certain cleaning products may also turn your kitchen cabinets yellow over time.

Older kitchen cabinets tend to fade as well. If you find your cabinets fading, repainting and refinishing the cabinets can make them look as good as new.

Supplies Needed To Fix Faded Kitchen Cabinets

Supplies Needed To Fix Faded Kitchen Cabinets

There are several materials that you will need to fix faded wooden kitchen cabinets:

  • Screwdriver
  • Sanding blocks or sandpaper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Drop cloth or old newspapers
  • Paintbrushes
  • Sponge
  • Rubber gloves
  • Wood primer (optional)
  • Wood paint (optional)
  • Wood finish
  • Wood conditioner
  • Wood stirring stick
  • Non-abrasive cloth
  • Face mask and protective eyewear

How To Restore Faded Kitchen Cabinets

How To Restore Faded Kitchen Cabinets
  1. Prepare Your Area And Remove Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts

Before doing anything to restore cabinets, prepare your space first. Start by making sure that your kitchen is well-ventilated by opening the window. Remove everything that is inside of your cabinet and remove the entire door and drawers as well. This makes it easier to refinish the cabinet and you will also be able to clean the cabinet’s hinges and other hardware such as the drawer knobs. You can place a drop cloth or old newspapers in the area where you are going to do your work to prevent the wood stain, finish, or paint from staining your floor.

  1. Clean The Cabinet Doors, Cabinets, and Cabinet Hardware

Once all the stuff inside your cabinet is removed, you can start cleaning your cabinets. Wipe the cabinets first with a non-abrasive cloth to remove any dust. After that, you can start cleaning the cabinets, drawers, and doors using a sponge with soapy water. Do not soak the sponge too much. After cleaning the cabinets, wipe them with dry and clean cloth.

Let the cabinets dry a little bit more and while waiting, you can start cleaning the cabinet hardware with a small brush and soapy water. You can also soak the hardware in soapy water for 30 minutes before cleaning them. Make sure to rinse the hardware well and let it dry.

  1. Sand The Cabinet

Once the cabinets, drawers, and doors are cleaned and dry, you can start sanding them. Make sure to wear a protective mask to avoid inhaling dust and fumes. You can either use sand paper or sanding blocks but the latter are easier to use. When sanding wooden cabinets, make sure to lightly sand in the direction of the grain to avoid getting a rough finish. You can strip the cabinet using a paint scraper beforehand but it is optional. If your old cabinets, you can also apply a wood filler to any dents, scratches, or cracks before sanding the cabinets 

  1. Prime And Paint The Wood

If you are not going to paint your cabinets, go to the next step. If you will be painting your kitchen cabinets, priming the cabinet will be your next step. Priming is important as this creates a barrier for the paint to stick to the cabinet. Priming your cabinet can also make the colors shine.

Use a clean paintbrush to prime the cabinet in the direction of the grain. Let the primer dry and then you can start painting your kitchen cabinets.

  1. Apply A Sealer

If you are not going to paint your cabinets, you can start applying a wood sealer to your cabinets. This step is optional and most people apply a sealer after staining the cabinet. However, applying a sealer before staining the wood will help the cabinets absorb the stain more evenly.

You can use a pre-stain wood conditioner (such as Feed-N-Wax) to prevent streaking and blotching before you start applying the wood stain. Apply the wood conditioner using a brush or cloth and make sure to brush with the grain. Leave the wood conditioner to penetrate the wood surface for at least 5 to 15 minutes and then wipe any excess conditioner with a clean, dry cloth.

  1. Stain The Cabinet

There are a lot of options for wood stains. Some products are water-based stains while others are oil-based and varnishes. The kind of wood stain you will use will depend on your preference.

Before applying the stain, make sure to mix the product well with a wood stirring stick to avoid any lumps or solids. Using a high-quality brush, dip the bristles into the stain and brush the cabinets in the direction of the wood grain. Let the first coat dry for at least eight hours or overnight before applying a second coat. Let the second coat dry again for at least eight hours or overnight.

If you want a darker stain, you can apply more coating of wood stain but just make sure to leave it to dry overnight in between coats. Once you’ve finished coating your cabinets, you can apply another coat of wood finish as a final protective seal. A popular wood finish that most people use is Restore-A-Finish from Howard products.

  1. Place The Cabinet Doors, Drawers, and Hardware Back

Once all of your cabinets, drawer fronts, and cabinet doors are repainted, refinished, and dried for at least eight hours, you can place the drawers, doors, and hardware back.


If you want to fix faded kitchen cabinets, repainting and refinishing them is the way to go. We have listed a step-by-step guide on how you can restore faded kitchen cabinets to make them look as good as new. If you have any other questions, let us know via the contact form on our website and we’ll get back to you!