How to Restore Metal Kitchen Cabinets | A Definitive Guide By Expert


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It is almost impossible to enter a home, and it does not have a metal kitchen cabinet. Big, medium, small, colorful, white, it doesn’t matter. This furniture is an indispensable item in the kitchen, and over time, they end up getting old, with broken handles, worn colors, among other defects. In this guide, I will tell you how to restore metal kitchen cabinets.

If this is the case with your kitchen and you are already racking your brains and researching the best way to revamp your kitchen closet, you can stop. Below, we have highlighted how to restore metal kitchen cabinets and give a new look to the environment.

Metal kitchen cabinets should be restored periodically, especially if they are located close to the burner and washing sink. Sudden changes in temperature, water droplets, and age usually end up damaging the chemical treatment that the metal has received. Then the dreaded rust appears, in addition to other damages such as cracks.

In most kitchens, there are usually metal cabinets or shelves that need to recover yesteryear’s splendor. Giving this furniture a new life can not only save you money, but it is also a fun activity and much more comfortable than you could imagine.

How to Restore Metal Kitchen Cabinets: The tools needed

Restoring metal kitchen cabinets requires a minimum amount of tools, and these are usually available to everyone. Some of these include:

Eye protection equipment to protect yourself from the small metal chips that will fly off when sanding

How to Restore Metal Kitchen Cabinets

Furniture Preparation

Before approaching the restoration of metal kitchen cabinets, it is necessary to disassemble all the elements that are part of the metal frame, such as cushions, screws, boards, etc. Adequate care should also be taken with the hinges and other appliances at this point. With water and detergent, carefully clean all the metal parts while removing as much of the rust as possible with a metal bristle brush. Although it is not possible to repair damages that require welding, you can cover holes with a liquid metal filler found in specialized stores. When it has dried, go ahead and sand the rough edges until leaving a uniform surface. The orbital sander will save you time and effort and allow you to remove the rust and even the surface, although the corners will have to be worked manually.

Rust treatment

Due to external agents’ actions such as humidity, iron begins to turn into iron oxide over time and loses its resistance. It appears as large flakes with an ocher odor that detach from the metal and leaves a trail. Suppose oxidation is widespread on your metal kitchen cabinets. In that case, it will be necessary to do a specific treatment since, if we leave a little rust under the paint, sooner or later, the chemical process will start again.

The most common thing is to apply an anti-rust primer on which you will paint. Times, this might not be enough. And there are currently oxide converters on the market. These products produce a chemical reaction that converts the oxide into an inert substance and inhibits the metal’s oxidation. It is advisable to apply a minimum of two coats.


Once the primer is dry, you only have to choose the color. The enamel must be specific for the primer used. If you use a water-based primer, the enamel has to be too. The same, if it is oil. In any case, you have the possibility of doing it both by hand with the brush or by using a spray.

The brush or roller is better if the surface is uneven, so it is easier to access the corners, while the spray paint ensures more excellent uniformity and requires less effort. Painting metal cabinets with a roller is also advisable.For drying and the application distance, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Many often skip a final stage by applying a urethane-based sealant coat when the paint job is dry. It is a substance that is particularly resistant to abrasion (and it must be remembered that scratches that expose the metal are what causes the appearance of rust) and, in some cases, also to ultraviolet rays so that the colour will remain unaltered for many years.

Aluminum Materials

Aluminum is an excellent trend in kitchen utensils, but it is also gaining ground over ferrous metals in kitchen cabinets production. However, aluminum is very prone to corrosion, although aluminum oxide does not weaken or shed the metal; it just puts up an ugly appearance. Oxidation can be understood as slow corrosion that feeds on the shiny finish that the furniture initially had.

The steps to follow here are similar to those of iron and stainless steel, but the products to be used are different:

  • Wash the furniture surface with a solution of dish detergent and water.
  • Soak a cloth in vinegar and pass it over the oxidation spots.
  • Scrub with a soft bristle brush, clean the vinegar and lift the oxidation with a damp cloth.
  • Please do not use abrasive materials such as sandpaper or steel wool to scrub the aluminum’s surface, as this will scratch it.
  • Clean the sanded surface of the kitchen cabinet with mineral spirits ( white spirit ) and a clean cloth
  • Move the cabinet to a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight.
  • Next, apply an epoxy primer with a spray to the cabinet’s entire surface and let it dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Apply a coat of polyurethane exterior paint, preferably with a spray. It must always be borne in mind that both epoxy type of paint and polyurethane are highly volatile and that their fumes are toxic, so you must take the precautions as mentioned above.
  • An alternative to painting, especially indicated if the material is not in awful condition, is waxing. It is enough to apply car wax, and the cabinet regains the shine it had when it was new.

How to Restore Metal Kitchen Cabinets: FAQ

How do you refurbish metal kitchen cabinets?

To refurbish metal kitchen cabinets, begin by removing kitchen cabinet doors and drawers and the handles, latches, and other hardware from these parts. Put all these things and the screws in plastic bags inside the cabinets, where they will be easy to locate when you are ready to put everything back together. 

Next, clean the surfaces adequately. Kitchens are work areas, so grease, steam, and food splatters are everywhere. Before you start sanding or painting, clean all surfaces with an appropriate solution.

Rinse, but don’t soak, cabinets. Let them dry completely before proceeding further.


Scratch the metal panels’ faces and edges gently. To prevent the cabinets’ edges from softening, use a steel sanding board. You shouldn’t need to sand and coat the interior of the cabinets if your repainting job is only a cupboard makeover. Sand just the front panels and visible corners of the cabinet fronts while covering the inside with tape.

If the previous paint is trustworthy and well-adhered, sanding is not essential; instead, scrape the top to provide the new paint with a solid, clean basis for improved adherence. Pay close attention, particularly to the finish’s worn spots, which are often where it gets the greatest wear.

Apply the sealer primer

Put an even coat of primer to all surfaces to ensure a well-adhered coat of paint. Sealer primers also reduce the need to sand and degrease old finishes before repainting.

The priming also has the benefit of serving as a solid foundation for water-based semi-gloss paint. Historically, high-gloss paint was the finish of choice for kitchen cupboards since it was easy to clean, stain- and moisture, but modern water-based acrylics are more user-friendly and offer a similarly lasting surface.


Start by painting the inside edges and door frame openings, then move on to the outer parts and finally paint the fronts. As a result, you will be able to work more swiftly in less important locations and detect and rapidly fix any droplets or spots in the more noticeable spots.

Next, paint the fronts of the doors and the drawers. If these parts have uneven surfaces, carefully cover the cracks and corners with paint, but do not allow it to accumulate at these points.

Always apply paint in thin layers, but covering all areas. Thin layers leave fewer visible brushstrokes and dry faster. 

Don’t make a thick coat, and don’t brush too hard – more brush strokes will create air bubbles in the paint, which will become blemishes on the metal when it dries.

Next, let the paint dry for at least four hours between coats. When everything is dry, move all surfaces slightly to prepare them for the second coat. Two coats of paint are usually needed, but you may want to add a third coat because kitchen cabinets are exposed to kitchen heat, and daily use and metal surfaces need all the protection they can get.

How do you clean old metal kitchen cabinets?

You can clean old metal kitchen cabinets by scrubbing them with a soft bristle brush, vinegar and a damp cloth.

How do you restore dull cabinets?

To restore dull cabinets, do make use of the following steps:

  • Clean the surfaces
  • Sand
  • Paint
  • Apply the sealer primer


In conclusion, metal kitchen cabinets come with great merits for the kitchen, and if you desire to learn how to restore metal kitchen cabinets, the steps above would be indispensable. The steps on how to paint rusted metal cabinets have also been elaborated above.

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