Last week we discussed glazing cabinets as an option for sprucing up existing painted cabinets. Another way to give your painted cabinets a new look is to scuff or “rub” the paint off of the edges and profiles. This is a lot simpler process than glazing and is easy to do yourself. When you scuff the paint off of the edges and profiles of your doors and drawer fronts, it allows the grain and color of the wood to show through giving you a wonderful aged look.
Before you begin, make sure you have solid wood doors and drawer fronts. This process will not work on MDF(medium density fiberboard; pressboard) or plywood doors. If you scuff the paint off of MDF doors, you will reveal the MDF, which, when exposed to water, swells up like a sponge. If you scuff, plywood, you will often see the layers and glue used to make the plywood.
Begin with a piece of 100 grit sandpaper. Lightly sand the edges and profiles until the wood begins to show through. You can sand a lot of paint off or just a little. Each door can look consistent or it can be a little more random. Remember, you can always sand more paint off, but you cannot put it back on. Once you have scuffed as much as you want, wipe the excess dust off and then apply a clear coat of finish to the entire door or drawer front to seal and protect the wood. Ryan at Custom Color can help you find the best clear finish product that will work with your existing painted door.
The most common color of new cabinets you see scuffed is black. But do not be put off-all colors can be scuffed. I have used black, red, green, white, navy blue, cream and yellow to mention a few and they all turn out looking fantastic. This is one of my favorite ways to give a new look to a great furniture find at a flea market or garage sale. In the end, this is a finish that easily disguises wear and tear and gives you a great aged, worn appearance.