Reducing the Gloss of Finished Cabinets

Tips on rubbing or sanding methods for intentionally dulling a cabinet finish. January 4, 2014

I delivered a kitchen last week and the homeowner wants the cabinets to have a lower sheen. I used Valspar Zenith, soft gloss (water-born pre-cat lacquer). Can you rub down the gloss, or is there a better way? The cabinets are installed and re-shoot is not an option.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor R:
I realize that this is not an answer to your immediate problem, but did you not make a sample and have the client sign off on the finish? In our experience errors in expectations of the finish are the most difficult to resolve. Having a signed copy of a sample will obviate any misunderstandings. I have rubbed out clear lacquer finishes to get to a satin sheen. You might want to make a few samples and try starting at 2000 grit with a ROS and work down from there, probably no coarser than 800. Make a few samples in scrap and have the homeowner sign off on the desired sheen. Also, you could remove the cabinet doors and do them in your shop.

From contributor R:
Are there raised panels involved? That will be your greatest challenge. I like to use Abralon pads to change the sheen, but if you have to get into tight inside corners or moldings, Scotch-Brite pads work better. Spray up some wood for practice. You can make it a flat finish with 600 grit or anything from there up with finer grit. Woven pads like Scotch-Brite will be more forgiving for any orange peel you have in the finish. Sandpaper will make you sand it smooth before you get an even sheen. Donít practice on the cabinets!

From Contributor B:
I use 4-0 steel wool that's dipped in a paste wax for flat areas. For corners and grooves I use the plastic scruffy pads.