Kitchen cabinets are a big focus during a kitchen remodel. The make-over budget competition with an expensive countertop is fierce. Save money by refacing the cabinets.
There are 3 basic methods to renew cabinetry:
- The first, and most costly, is to scrap the old ones and order or build new ones. This also involves installing kitchen cabinets which adds to the job.
- The second option is to strip them and apply a stain and/or a polyurethane finish or paint them.
- The third option is to reface kitchen cabinets and install new knobs and drawer pulls to give them a completely new look. Most of all of the labor can be done by the homeowner which saves even more money on labor costs.
- Roll-on, self-stick veneer. This can be purchased from a refacing manufacturer.
- Self-closing hinges. This avoids the chore of installing and adjusting magnetic or friction catches.
- Drawer and door pulls, or handles. These really set off the cabinets and can match the room’s décor or theme.
- Decorative molding, if desired.
- New, custom doors and drawer fronts, if the plan is not to refinish the existing ones.
Refinish Drawer Fronts and Doors or Order New Ones
This is a good time to measure for and order new doors and drawer fronts. Order them and the veneer from the same refacing manufacturer or cabinetmaker to ensure getting a good match. Alternatively, a handy woodworker can build them.
The other option is to strip the old ones and stain them to match the veneer shade.
Prep The Cabinetry
The first thing to do is to remove the drawers and door fronts. Remember to number the drawers so the proper ones go where they are supposed to later. Unscrew the hinges from the face frames. The best and quickest way to do this is to use a cordless drill with the correct size screw tip.
Next, prep the face frames. Start by applying wood putty to holes left by hinges. Next, sand the faces down. If the surface is greasy, wipe them down with TSP (TriSodium Phosphate) first.
Apply The Veneer
Cut and install the stiles (vertical members) of the face frame first. Cut them a bit wider and longer than needed and trim with a sharp utility knife. It helps to use a laminate (Formica) j-roller to get good adhesion.
Next, cut and install the rails. Each piece should be long enough to cover the stile veneer about halfway. They will go over the already installed stiles on purpose. Use a combination square or a speed square as a straightedge aligned on the edge of the stiles and cut through the rails with the utility knife. Remove a scrap of rail.
Finish the Refacing Project
Any staining or other finishing can be done at this point. All that’s left to do now is to reinstall the hinges, doors, drawer fronts, and pulls.