How to Remove the Glossy Finish on Cabinets

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You can remove the glossy finish on cabinets.
Image Credit: Justin Paget/Stone/GettyImages

If you have glossy cabinets in your kitchen, you might love them. However, many people prefer a matte look on their cabinets and wish to repaint afterward. Too much gloss can reflect sunlight, causing an unpleasant glare when cooking and can also hold fingerprints and grease, making it more visible. Fortunately, it is fairly straightforward to remove the glossy finish from your cabinets.


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Before You Start

Before you begin removing the glossy finish to your kitchen cabinets, you should consider whether you are prepared for the work involved. Taking a finish off your cabinets can be quite messy, though the process is straightforward. You'll need to prep the area, carry out all steps of the finish removal process and then clean your kitchen thoroughly before you resume its everyday use.

If you will be refinishing the cabinets, staining them or painting them once you have the gloss off, be sure you are working in a well-ventilated area. If you'll be working on the cabinets in place, this would require you to open doors and windows or use fans. If you plan to remove the cabinet doors and sand and strip them elsewhere, choosing a large or outdoor space is ideal.


You can remove gloss from cabinets either by sanding or by using a liquid deglosser. You should remove all cabinet hardware before you do so and set the hardware safely aside where it won't get lost. Cover your countertops and floors with a drop cloth or newspapers to make clean up easier. As when removing shellac from wood, you'll want to clean all sawdust carefully before eating off any kitchen surface.

Removing Gloss Finish from Cupboard

Perhaps the simplest way to remove gloss finish from your cupboards is to sand it off. Be aware that this will leave visible grooves in the cabinets, so you'll likely need to refinish the cabinets once you have completed the project.


Choose a fine-grit sandpaper and scrub the cabinet doors thoroughly. You might wish to wear a mask and goggles to protect yourself, as dust from the cabinets may get in your face. Wipe with a damp rag periodically as you sand to make it clear what still requires sanding.

Once you've sanded away the glossy surface, you should clean the cabinets thoroughly and allow them to dry. Take stock of their new appearance in both dim and bright light. If you don't prefer the way they look without their glossy finish, choose a new coating for them. You can paint them with latex or oil-based paint, use a gel stain, choose a traditional stain or even whitewash your cabinets.


Using a Liquid Deglosser

Another method for removing the sheen on gloss-finish cupboards is to use a deglosser. These chemicals are very strong and should always be used according to manufacturer instructions, in a well-ventilated area and away from children. As Home Depot explains, some deglossers are water-based, and these are a good choice for your kitchen.

Regardless, you will need to wear gloves and goggles designed for use with chemicals. Use a liquid deglosser applied to a rag and rub it evenly along the cabinets. You should begin to see the shiny surface of the cabinets disappear. Continue deglossing until the cupboards have the appearance you prefer.


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Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing, and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity.