Ask the Remodeler: Can you re-lacquer a modern kitchen cabinet?

Ask the Expert Home Improvement
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Q. I enjoy your column and hope you can help. I accidentally stripped some lacquer off a kitchen cabinet. Can it be restored?


A. Ouch, that will be a difficult one to do a quick fix on. Not knowing how the cabinets are finished makes it difficult to assess, but most modern cabinets are factory finished with catalyzed varnish, making repairs in the field almost impossible. Catalyzed varnishes are applied in a series of steps under factory conditions — not something you can do on a bench in the basement. Depending on the severity of it, you would probably want to have furniture finishers look at it. The repair would happen in their shop. I would be reluctant to try to repair it with off-the-shelf varnish or polyurethane.

Q. In an earlier answer to a question, your solution was to regrade so as to stop water leaking from tie rods in the concrete wall that are rusting out (“Ask the Remodeler: The AC isn’t cooling the upstairs bedrooms. Why?,’’ Sept. 29, 2021). You mentioned that more expensive solutions might be required, but did not detail what those solutions were. I am having that issue, am unable to regrade, and don’t know how to tackle this problem. Could you tell me what the other options I have are, please?


A. The more expensive and involved procedure is an exterior French drain around the perimeter of the house. That is literally an excavation of the exterior of the foundation, waterproofing the exterior of the foundation wall, and installing a French drain at the base. The piping of the French drain would then be run to a cistern or dry well on the property.

Before doing any of those things, make sure your gutters and downspouts are working properly. The downspouts should have leader pipes long enough to pull water away from the house. Grading is important, but pulling gutter water away from the house is just as key.

Mark Philben is the project development manager at Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge. Send your questions to [email protected]. Questions are subject to editing. Subscribe to the Globe’s free real estate newsletter — our weekly digest on buying, selling, and design — at Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @globehomes.