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How to Reface Kitchen Cabinets

Posted on: June 25, 2018

How to Reface Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchens see some of the heaviest action in any home, especially when you’re hosting parties. It gets used three times a day (ideally) and is one of the rooms that experience some of the messiest activities. Your kitchen cabinets and surfaces can suffer because of this, and there may come a time when you’re in dire need of addressing this issue pronto.

Instead of spending lots for new cabinets, you can always opt to reface the ones you have for a fraction of the cost. Refacing, according to HowStuffWorks.com, involves “replacing the doors, drawer fronts and hardware, and covering the sides and framework with stick-on veneer or glued-on plywood.” With this, you get a new-looking cabinet without breaking your saving or dealing with the messy process of having your cabinets wholly removed and replaced!

Before you break out the toolbox and start disassembling your kitchen cabinets, however, you’ll want to be armed with the necessary knowledge of how to properly reface your cabinets, so you avoid damaging anything or making a complete disaster out of your DIY project.

Here’s how you can prepare yourself for the fulfilling project of cabinet refacing:

1. Research options and styles

Before you purchase the first veneer option you see online, you might want to have a plan in mind for what you want your cabinets to look after this is over. Some styles might not work well for certain kinds of cabinets, and this is something you should know before you decide on your final look.

Take some time to thoroughly research the components and tools you need, where you can source your materials, and proper refacing techniques. In doing so, you’re substantially preventing completely avoidable mistakes and accidents, and making the most of your resources, time, and energy in carrying out this project.

2. Take note of your measurements

Wouldn’t it be a complete waste when you order cabinet doors or new drawer fronts, only to find out that they don’t fit perfectly into your existing setup? Not only does it not look pleasing (and can bother you for a long while), you’re also exposing your cabinets, drawers, and anything else in them to anything that can damage them.

Make a diagram of your cabinets and drawers, then take note of the measurements of each area. Be as accurate as possible — or ask the help of someone with construction knowledge if you’re apprehensive about how precise you can get. You can save this information after you’ve successfully resurfaced your cabinets for when you feel like doing it all over again.

3. Order your materials

Before you start, make sure you already have everything you need in your home, so your time isn’t wasted waiting for the materials to come when you could’ve been working on them in succession. This means that, before you start, you should’ve at least received the cabinet doors and drawer fronts you ordered. Specify the details of the items you need, such as their base material, custom features, measurements, etc. Be as thorough as possible, so you’re sure that what you’re expecting is what you get.

4. Start with a clean slate

Empty out your entire cabinet and store all those items somewhere safe, and then start disassembling. Take a screwdriver and start dismantling the doors, drawer fronts, hinges, and anything else that can be taken apart. Properly set aside things that you’ll be reusing so you don’t lose them along the way. Lightly scuff all the surfaces of the cabinet box and end panels with at least an 80-grit sanding paper so the plywood or SAC can better adhere to the surface. Clean the surface properly with a tack cloth and wash them with warm water.

5. Proceed with the actual refacing

If everything’s in place, you can start with fixing up the end panels. Apply high-quality wood glue in a zigzag pattern on the back side of the panel from top to bottom, line up the plywood correctly, and stick it firmly in place, running through the entire length to remove any air bubbles that might’ve formed. Wipe away any excess glue that seeps through the edges, then immediately secure the panel with finishing nails.

Afterward, you can start applying the veneer. Using sharp scissors or a utility knife, cut out strips that measure a half inch wider and 2 inches longer than the stiles and rails you’re covering. Peel the backing from the top of the strip, line it up evenly, and press down firmly — again, running through the length with a wood block or Plexiglass scraper to make sure that it’s even and completely flat. Carefully trim the excess once the pieces are in place and use your sandpaper to smooth down the edges. Work meticulously and patiently — this way, you won’t end up with a haphazard look when you’re done. If you’re nervous, try practicing first on smaller surfaces and edges, so you have a good grasp of what you’re doing before you proceed to bigger areas.

6. Replace the hardware and install the new doors/fronts

If you’re reusing hardware, it’s just a matter of reattaching them to their existing holes. If you’re replacing them with new ones, it’s better to take the old ones with you while you shop for replacements so that you can find ones with the same measurements. This way, you don’t have to fill in the holes and redrill them again, though that’s also an option you can take if you can’t find the sizes you’re looking for.

Attach the cabinet doors and drawer fronts you’ve ordered, following closely the installation instructions that came with them. A tip from How Stuff Works is to “[n]ever put new hinges back into the previous hinge holes that lay beneath the new veneer surface — they can become loose and pull the veneer off.”

Ready to start refacing your kitchen cabinets? Check out our kitchen cabinet refacing services today or call us at (800) 581-0694 to find out how we can help you achieve your new kitchen look for a fraction of your remodeling budget today!