quick answer can cherry cabinets be lightened

Can Cherry Cabinets Be Lightened? A Guide to Transforming the Look of Your Kitchen


Cherry cabinets have been a popular choice in kitchens for decades. This wood species gives a warm and traditional feel to any space. However, as design trends change, homeowners are frequently looking for ways to update their homes without starting from scratch. One question that arises is can cherry cabinets be lightened? If you’re wondering the same thing, this guide will give you an overview of different methods that can transform the look of your cherry cabinets.

The Benefits of Lightening Your Cherry Cabinets

There are several benefits to lightening your cherry cabinets. First and foremost, it can help increase the brightness and modernization of your kitchen. If you have a dark and outdated kitchen, lightening your cherry cabinets can make a big difference in making your space feel more welcoming. Secondly, it can save you money compared to replacing cabinets completely. Finally, if your goal is to sell your home in the future, updating your kitchen by lightening its cabinets can make it more appealing to prospective buyers.

Understanding the Characteristics of Cherry Wood

Before you decide to lighten your cherry cabinets, it’s essential to understand the unique properties of cherry wood. Cherry is known for its beautiful red grain and natural luster. However, this wood species reacts differently under different lighting conditions. In daylight or bright white light, it tends to take on a pinkish-red hue. When exposed to artificial light or low natural light conditions, it may appear darker and has a more subdued red color.

Over time, cherry cabinets may darken due to several factors such as exposure to UV light and environmental factors like humidity. As a result, they may appear less vibrant than when first installed.

Exploring Different Options for Lightening Your Cabinets

If you’ve decided to lighten your cherry cabinets, there are two main options available: DIY methods or professional services.

DIY Options

  • Sanding and stripping methods: If your cabinets are still in good condition and you want to strip the existing finish to get to the natural wood grain, sanding can be a good choice. Stripping is an option if your cabinets have a thick coat of paint. With this method, you need to sand down the topcoat and then apply a new finish using varnish or polyurethane.
  • Bleaching options: Bleaching is a good option if your cherry cabinets have dark spots or water stains. Applying bleach will remove the stain and lighten the wood color. However, caution should be taken as bleach can damage wood fibers and alter the natural color of the cabinet.
  • Staining over existing wood: If you’re happy with your cherry cabinets but want a lighter color, staining may be an option to consider. With this alternative, a lighter-colored stain is applied over the top of the existing finish.

Professional Services

  • Professional cabinet refinishing services: If your cabinets are in good shape overall but just need refreshing or updating, professional refinishing may be a solution. A cabinet refinishing company can sand down and restain your cherry cabinets to give them an updated look without having to replace them altogether.
  • Hiring a professional painter or carpenter: A professional painter or carpenter may also be able to change the look of your cabinets by applying lighter-colored paint or stain. This option is best when upgrading larger projects like full kitchen renovation.

Pros and Cons of Each Option

As with any decision, there will always be pros and cons to consider.

DIY Options

  • Sanding and stripping methods: This is a cost-effective option that can be done without professionals. However, sanding cabinets is a time-consuming process that requires skillfulness to do correctly.
  • Bleaching options: This can be more effective than sanding for removing dark stains. But it is recommended that you consult with a professional to avoid damaging the wood.
  • Staining over existing wood: It can save you money and give your cherry cabinets an updated look without having to replace them entirely. But, proper surface preparation is essential in achieving optimal results.

Professional Services

  • Professional cabinet refinishing services: Refinishing services are relatively quick compared with other methods. They may also deliver better quality results under professional hands. However, this option tends to cost more than DIY techniques.
  • Hiring a professional painter or carpenter: Professional services guarantee quality workmanship. You also have more flexibility in terms of materials, finishes, and designs. Nevertheless, this option is typically costly for most homeowners.

Deciding Which Option Is Right for You

When deciding on which option to choose, you should consider factors such as budget, timeline, skill level, and desired outcome.

For small projects like a single cabinet door touch-up or basic staining, DIY methods may be worthy of consideration. On the other hand, more extensive projects involving full kitchen cabinets refinishing might require the expertise of professionals.

Also keep in mind that tasks requiring removing old paint job are often tedious work. It can take up a tremendous amount of time to complete without specialized tools and equipment. There’s also the risk that it won’t go as planned, resulting in additional expenses.

Ultimately, your goal is to achieve a bright and updated look in your kitchen while staying within your budget and comfort level.


In conclusion, lightening your cherry cabinets can give your kitchen a new and fresh atmosphere without having to replace them altogether. A variety of DIY methods and professional services are available depending on the extent of your project. Consider factors like budget, skill level, and desired outcome when deciding between DIY or professional options.

Cherry cabinets can be lightened successfully with care and attention. So whether you decide to tackle this project yourself or hire professionals, the result will be a kitchen that looks fresh and new. Good luck!

Is it possible to lighten cherry cabinets?

Yes, it is definitely possible to lighten cherry cabinets. However, the process might vary depending on the type of finish used on the cabinets. It is important to consult a professional or test a small inconspicuous area before attempting to lighten the entire cabinet.

What are some methods to lighten cherry cabinets?

There are several methods you can use to lighten cherry cabinets such as sanding, bleaching, painting, or using a wood conditioner. Again, it is important to proceed with caution and test a small area first before applying any method to the entire cabinet.

Will lightening cherry cabinets affect their durability or quality?

Lightening cherry cabinets should not affect their durability or quality if done properly. However, it is important to note that any chemical or mechanical process applied to the wood can cause damage if done incorrectly. It is best to consult a professional before proceeding.

Can I hire a professional to lighten my cherry cabinets?

Yes, hiring a professional is always an option for lightening your cherry cabinets. They will have the necessary tools and expertise needed to ensure that your cabinets remain in good condition while achieving the desired lighter color. Make sure to research and choose a reputable and experienced professional for this task.

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