Revive Your Cabinet Hardware
Sometimes all it takes is a set of brand-new or refinished knobs, handles or drawer pulls to dress up cabinets you've been living with for a long time. Wooden handles can be repainted, metal ones refinished. You can opt for new hardware to give your cabinets a visual lift, or even a complete change of style.
Reviving Wooden Hardware
Wood handles and knobs may be refinished at the same time you put a new face on your cabinets. Be sure to clean off fingerprints by using a sponge dampened with liquid household cleaner. Clean grease stains by rubbing with a clean soft cloth dipped in rubbing alcohol then blot with a dry cloth. After cleaning, roughen the surface with fine sandpaper.
Painting over old paint:
With surfaces clean, dry and sanded, apply wood sealer and allow it to dry. Then brush on two coats of hardy alkyd enamel paint, sanding lightly between coats with fine sandpaper.
Painting over stain:
On clean, dry and sanded surfaces, prime hardware with a white-pigmented shellac. A second primer coat may be required if grain show-through persists. Then apply two coats of alkyd enamel paint, sanding between coats with fine sandpaper.
Repainting Metal Hardware
Remove previously painted handles from cabinets and drawers; place them in a bucket or in clean tin cans and soak overnight in paint remover.
Wearing protective goggles and gloves, rub off all loosened paint with steel wool, then wipe stripped metal clean with lacquer thinner and a clean cloth.
Coat hardware with a galvanized steel primer and allow primer coat to dry, then apply two coats of alkyd enamel paint, rubbing with steel wool between coats.
Allow repainted hardware to dry thoroughly before reinstalling.
Cleaning Unpainted Metal Hardware
Metal hardware tends to dull with use and age, marred by food and rust stains and with flecks of accumulated paint, which must be removed carefully with a single-edge razor blade. Most commercial metal polishes have good cleaning capability, but avoid using abrasive cleansers, which are certain to mar metal surfaces with scratches and pits.
Polished chrome and brass may be cleaned easily with liquid metal polish applied with a clean soft cloth; polish with another clean cloth.
Uncoated brass has a desirable natural patina that accrues with aging; to remove tarnish, dip a clean soft cloth into a liquid metal polish formulated for brass; use elbow grease and a series of clean cloths until the richness of brass has been restored.
Replacing Old Handles
New drawer and door pulls can lend a fresh look, including a different sense of style, to cabinets, whether you've refinished them or just cleaned them up.
If your cabinets have concealed hinges, your choices are limited only by your imagination and the available stock of hardware. If hinges are exposed, however, you'll want to replace door and drawer pulls with hardware in a finish that either matches or complements the hinges.
Before shopping, remove one of the old handles and carry it with you. Ideally, your new hardware should fit the existing screw holes, but if you should fall in love with a slightly larger, smaller or different handle style, don't despair. You can compensate by filling the old, unused holes in cabinet doors and drawers with wood filler. Allow fill to dry, sand smooth and then paint or stain it to make the patch inconspicuous.
You'll save time and effort if you can utilize at least one of the holes created for each old handle. To make a new hole, use a drill with a drill bit as thick as the screws supplied to attach the new handles.