how to finish underside of kitchen cabinets

Finishing the underside of kitchen cabinets is a necessary step to protect the cabinet surfaces and create a polished appearance. Here’s how to finish the underside of kitchen cabinets:

Materials You’ll Need:

  1. Sandpaper (various grits, typically ranging from 120 to 220)
  2. Clean cloth or tack cloth
  3. Wood stain or paint (optional)
  4. Polyurethane or clear finish (for wood cabinets)
  5. Paintbrush or paint sprayer (if painting)
  6. Painter’s tape (if necessary)
  7. Drop cloths or plastic sheeting (to protect the floor and countertops)


  1. Prepare Your Workspace:
    • Start by removing any items stored in the cabinets and clearing the countertop area underneath the cabinets. Lay down drop cloths or plastic sheeting to protect your countertops and floor from drips or spills.
  2. Clean the Underside of Cabinets:
    • Use a clean cloth or tack cloth to wipe away dust and debris from the underside of the cabinets. Ensure that the surface is clean and free of any loose particles.
  3. Sand the Surface:
    • Sand the underside of the cabinets to create a smooth and clean surface for finishing. Start with a medium-grit sandpaper (around 120 grit) to remove any rough spots or imperfections. Sand in the direction of the wood grain, if applicable.
    • Gradually progress to finer grits (e.g., 150, 180, 220) for a smoother finish. Sand lightly between grits to remove any scratches left by the previous sandpaper.
  4. Clean Again:
    • Wipe away the sanding dust with a clean cloth or tack cloth. Ensure that the surface is completely clean before proceeding.
  5. Stain (Optional):
    • If you have wood cabinets and want to enhance their natural appearance, you can apply wood stain to the underside of the cabinets. Follow the stain manufacturer’s instructions for application and drying times.
    • Apply the stain evenly with a clean cloth or paintbrush, and wipe away any excess with a separate cloth. Allow the stain to dry completely.
  6. Apply a Clear Finish:
    • To protect and seal the wood (if applicable), apply a clear finish such as polyurethane. Use a paintbrush to apply the finish evenly, following the wood grain.
    • Allow the first coat to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Depending on the type of finish, you may need to apply additional coats, sanding lightly between coats for a smoother finish.
  7. Paint (If Desired):
    • If you prefer a painted finish, use a paintbrush or paint sprayer to apply paint evenly to the underside of the cabinets. Painter’s tape can help protect adjacent surfaces from paint splatter.
    • Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying additional coats, if needed. Sand lightly between coats for a smooth finish.
  8. Final Inspection:
    • Inspect the finished underside of the cabinets for any imperfections, drips, or uneven spots. Touch up as necessary with additional stain, paint, or finish.
  9. Reinstall Items:
    • Once the finish is dry and you’re satisfied with the appearance, you can reinstall any items previously stored in the cabinets.

Finishing the underside of kitchen cabinets not only protects the wood but also adds a polished and cohesive look to your kitchen. Whether you choose to stain, paint, or apply a clear finish, the result will enhance the overall appearance of your kitchen space.