Kitchen cabinet refacing: Steps to get the job done

Making your Atlanta kitchen look like new can be an interesting pursuit on a small- to medium-size budget....

Making your Atlanta kitchen look like new can be an interesting pursuit on a small- to medium-size budget. When changing the look of your kitchen cabinets without buying new ones, kitchen cabinet refacing is one of two inexpensive options you have. The other is painting the cabinets. These inexpensive methods work especially when the cabinets are still in good condition or you don't have the funds to buy new kitchen cabinets. However, painting has a lot of disadvantages. The paint can peel, and it may not hide any blemishes on the cabinets, such as dents. Painting also doesn't withstand the daily wear-and-tear that refaced cabinets do. Refacing cabinets involves more work than painting but may be worth it. Before you start remodeling kitchen cabinets, it's important to understand the task you're undertaking. Although refacing cabinets is something you can do yourself, if the work is too much, you may want to contact a professional.

What is cabinet refacing?

Refacing your kitchen cabinets involves veneering or replacing the visible parts. These parts include the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. The cabinet boxes, also called cabinet cases, stay in the same place.

When you reface the cabinet doors and drawers, you remove them from the cabinets. You can also remove and replace the cabinet hardware. However, before you start the task of changing the look of the cabinets, you have to plan and coordinate the remodel.

Measure your cabinets

Measuring the doors and drawers is the most critical step in a cabinet refacing project. If you do not measure the cabinets correctly, you risk delaying the project and paying more money. To get the correct size, use a tape measure that measures at least 1/16 of an inch. You also want to sketch the layout of the cabinet using a paper and pencil. Label each cabinet with a letter or number to keep the measurements straight.

After you measure the total linear footage of the moldings, add 10 percent. You want enough material just in case you make a mistake when you're cutting the plywood or veneer. The 10 percent may sound like a lot to add to your measurements, but you want enough material just in case you make a mistake while you're cutting. Once the veneer or plywood is attached to the door or drawer, you will cut it to size.

Selecting your materials

You have a plethora of refacing materials to choose from, such as veneer and plywood. The veneer typically is self-adhesive. Plywood, however, requires you to use wood glue to attach the refacing materials to the cabinets.

You can go to major Atlanta home improvement retailers or a small retailer that specializes in selling kitchen cabinets. Don't expect to go in, buy the materials and leave with them. You need to special order your materials because there are too many options for a retailer to have in stock.

If you decide to go to a smaller retailer, you may have a larger variety of more personalized choices. However, they may be more expensive. Regardless of where you go, take your measurements with you. The materials are made according to your specifications.

Needed tools

To reface your kitchen cabinets, you'll need a lot of tools besides a tape measure. You need items such as the following:

  • Utility knife
  • Drill
  • Straightedge
  • Screwdriver
  • Level
  • Handsaw
  • Clamps
  • Wood glue
  • Hammer
  • Brad nailer
  • Nails and screws
  • Small pry bar
  • Miter and table saw

Tips when refacing

You always want to start with the end panels on the cabinets. The end panels are the flat, large exposed areas that run along the end of the cabinets. How you attach the paneling depends on what type of materials you use.

For example, if you choose a veneer product, you're spending your time peeling and pasting, because it's a self-adhesive product. If you use plywood refacing materials, then you're using wood glue to install the material. However, some plywood refacing materials do have a self-adhesive backing.

Before you cover cabinet drawers, you must sand the surface. This removes the grease, dirt and debris so the new adhesive properly sticks.

Remodeling your kitchen

Many people choose kitchen cabinet refacing because they are on a tight schedule or like the layout of their kitchen but not the cabinets' look. You can coordinate the new cabinets with any new flooring or wall paint to give them an extra special undated look. Cabinet refacing can take up to two days to complete depending on your personal work schedule. This is definitely quicker than remodeling, which takes weeks or months to complete. However, you should contact a professional any time you're not sure you can complete the task or you run into trouble.

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