How To's

Update Old Cabinets

Making Old Cabinets Look New

Give your kitchen or bathroom a facelift without spending a fortune on cabinetry.
How many times have you stood back and stared at your kitchen or bathroom cabinets and were perplexed at the retro style that they were illuminating through your space? If the answer is more than a few, it is probably time for an update. While purchasing new cabinets can be extremely expensive, refacing the cabinets can be very affordable and will transform your cabinets into something of which you can be proud.

Cabinet Refacing Basics

There are two basic style of cabinet construction that is used: Framed cabinetry is cabinetry that is built with a face frame that is installed perpendicular to the cabinet box. The frame is usually 1 ¼ inches to 1 ½ inches wide. This allows the doors to have a stop and makes the cabinets look much more substantial. It also makes the cabinets look nicer as the doors overlay the cabinet face frame by merely ½ to ¾ of an inch.

Frameless cabinets are typically made of melamine which is a composite press board that is sandwiched in between thin sheets of melamine. While these cabinets serve their purpose, they are typically cheaper grade cabinets and the doors are made of stamped melamine, which is meant to mimic the look of raised panel doors. The doors of the cabinets have a full overlay which means they completely cover the frame of the cabinet because the cabinet sides are only the ½ to ¾ inch melamine pressboard.

When refacing the facing of a cabinet itself, remove the doors and set them to the side. The most common types of refacing is an oak or maple veneer. This is because it is the cheapest and easiest door wood to find. The veneer is simply cut with a utility knife using a straight edge to match the portions of the face frame that need covering. Adhesive is then brushed on the surface of the face frame and the back of the veneer. Once both are sides are tacky, press the veneer onto the face frame. Use blue painter’s tape to hold the veneer in place at the ends and middle. This process takes a little bit of time. One important thing to remember is not to try and make the edges perfect. You can do this with a file at the end of the project when the glue dries.

Replacing Cabinet Doors

One of the best ways to perform refacing is to get a paintable/stainable veneer for the cabinets so you can buy new doors that are unfinished. This will save you some money and allow you to personalize the stain colour. If you are planning on painting the cabinets, purchase pre-painted veneer and cabinet doors. The finish will last significantly longer than anything you can buy on the market.

When staining cabinet doors, always use two coats of stain applied with a clean rag, and 4 coats of polyurethane to protect the finish. Each coat of polyurethane should be lightly sanded before applying the next. The last coat is the only coat that remains unsanded.

Hinges and Handles

Door hinges can make or break the look of cabinet doors. Always use concealed hinges for cabinet doors. They cost a little bit more, but will give your cabinetry a high end look. The hinges require a 1 1/8 inch hole be bored into the frame of the cabinet door for most hinges on the market today. Check the hinge instruction manual for the proper hole size when installing the hinges; A forsner bit works the best for this type of hole.

Cahanging handles and knobs can go a long way to altering appearances, even without changing the doors.

Cabinet refacing will completely change the look of you outdated kitchen or bathroom at a fraction of the cost it would to replace all of the cabinetry. If functionality is a concern, there are also many options available for making cabinets more useful and organized.