Kitchen Decor- How to Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets

Your home is your castle -- it's where the heart is. At least that's how the old sayings go. For many people, it may be their most substantial financial investment. Hanging onto that classic craftsman in the up-and-coming neighborhood of your chic, growing city will most likely mean a good return on your investment one day.
Even if you didn't buy as part of an investment strategy, your home is a safe haven from the stresses of work and the outside world.
Inside your castle lays the "heart of the home" -- the kitchen. If you've ever hosted a party, then you know that for some reason most of the action takes place in the kitchen. Take a look around your kitchen. Are you happy with what you see? Did the previous owners lack all sense of style and good taste? Now look specifically at the cabinets.
Whether you decide to paint or reface, putting a fresh look on those tired old cabinets is a cheap way to update your kitchen. And if you plan on flipping the house for a profit, resurfacing provides you with the maximum return on your "sweat equity." Refacing your cabinets costs a fraction of what buying and installing new ones would, and you can do it yourself over a weekend. Painting is even cheaper and easier than refacing, and it's possible that you can finish the job in a full day's work.

What exactly is refacing?
Good question with an easy answer -- refacing means replacing the doors, drawer fronts and hardware, and covering the sides and framework with stick-on veneer or glued-on plywood. What you get is a new-looking cabinet at about half the cost. You also avoid the mess and inconvenience of completely removing and replacing your cabinets.

Planning and Preparation: Steps 1-3
If your cabinets are in good structural shape and you like the existing layout, then you're a good candidate for refacing.

  1. Research your options -  In your research, determine whether or not you want to use plywood or a self-adhesive covering (SAC) for your end panels and frames. The plywood comes in precut pieces and is glued on the exposed sides of the cabinet box. The self-adhesive covering is a thin sheet of wood or woodlike laminate that's peeled and stuck or ironed onto the front of the cabinet frame.
  2. Measure your cabinets - Once you've researched and decided the direction you'd like to go, you'll need accurate measurements to order your materials. Sketch out a rough drawing of your cabinet layout and label the different sections to help you keep everything in order. Measure the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with a tape measure and record your lengths and widths on your diagram.
  3. Remove doors, drawer fronts and hardware - remove the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, hinges and hardware. If you plan to reuse the hinges and hardware save them with the screws for later. Next, lightly hand-sand all surfaces of the cabinet box and end panels. Use 150-grit sandpaper and never use a power sander (it will dig in too much). Your goal is to simply scuff the surface somewhat to allow for better adhesion of the plywood or SAC. After you sand, use a tack cloth( sticky gauze used to clean sanded surfaces and can be found in any hardware store) to clean the dust from the surface and then wash everything with some warm, soapy water.

Refacing and Adding Hardware: Steps 1-3

  1. Start with the end panels - Using high-quality wood glue, make a zigzag "S" pattern on the back side of the panel from top to bottom, about an inch from the edge. Line it up, stick it on and press firmly on all corners, then the center. Wipe away any glue that squishes out immediately and secure the panel with finishing nails. These small nails can be found at any hardware store. Put one in each corner and then every 8 inches or so down the sides.
  2. Add veneer - The next step is to apply the SAC to the fronts of the cabinet boxes. Using sharp scissors or a utility knife, cut out strips of the veneer that measure a half inch wider and 2 inches longer than the stiles and rails you'll be covering. Peel the backing from the top of the strip and line it up evenly before pressing down. Then peel the rest of the backing as you go down, pressing the veneer onto the cabinet frame. Once the pieces are in place, you need to trim the excess from the rails and stiles. Use your utility knife and straight edge to make even cuts. It's important to note that you should finish one cabinet at a time. Use your 150-grit sandpaper to smooth out the edges of the trimmed veneer. Your final step is to take a Plexiglas scraper and apply pressure on the SAC from the top down.

    There is also an iron-on version of the veneer. It's applied in the same way the SAC is, except it's ironed onto the front of the cabinet, not pressed on with an adhesive. Once you have the veneer ironed on, you would trim and sand it in the same manner outlined above.

  3. Replace hardware -  If you're using the same hardware, simply reattach it in the existing holes. If you want new hardware, the easiest thing to do is take one of the old pieces to the store with you to compare sizes. You don't have to buy in the same size, but it will prevent you from having to fill in the old screw holes. If you can't find any you like in the same size, use a wood putty to fill in the previous holes and drill new ones that match the hardware you've chosen.

    The final step is to attach the door and drawer fronts. Never 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. Ideally, the hinges should be 2 inches from the top and bottom of the doors. So if you're putting in new hinges, stay as close to that measurement without using the old holes as you can.

Once you have your door and drawer fronts back on and the hardware in place, stand back and marvel at your brand-new looking kitchen cabinets. Now pat yourself on the back for doing it yourself and saving a lot of money.


Considering Buying or Selling a Home?


For more information on my Home Buying or Home Selling System, contact me at:
Century 21 Miller Real Estate Ltd.
467 Speers Rd.
Oakville, ON L6K 3S4
Cell: 905.730.6722 | Office: 905.845.9180 | Fax: 905.845.7674

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