Friday, April 29, 2011

Guest Post: How to Reface Your Kitchen Cabinet

How to Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets

If your kitchen is getting "rustic" feel to it, and you really don’t want it looking that way, perhaps it’s time to replace your old, worn cabinets. A fresh, new set of cabinets will rejuvenate the entire kitchen. There’s only one problem--you don’t have enough money to install new cabinets. There is an inexpensive alternative--reface them instead. It’ll give the kitchen that revitalized appearance you’re looking for at a fraction of the price. Here are some tips on how to reface your kitchen cabinets.

Reface or Replace

The first thing you need to look at is the condition of the existing cabinets. If they are structurally sound, then refacing is a viable alternative. However, if the cabinets are in poor condition, then it would probably be better to consider replacing them. Refacing can give your kitchen cabinets a like new look for much less expense. Doing the work yourself can save a bundle, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did it. Each time you enter your kitchen, you’ll have a new appreciation of your work.

Preparing to Reface

Before starting the process, you need to remove all the hardware and brackets on the cabinets. Remove the hinges and place the cabinets on a flat surface. Although it’s possible to do the refacing job on the kitchen table doing it outside or in a well ventilated garage would be much better. Once the cabinets have been taken down and moved to your work area, you’re ready to begin.

Removing the Old Paint

Getting rid of the old paint is the first step in refacing your cabinets. Scrape the paint off using a paint scraper (available at any hardware or paint store.) If the paint is exceptionally thick, you may have to use paint thinner to soften it up. Use a mask so you won’t be breathing the fumes. Some older cabinets may have been painted with lead-based paint and the fumes could be harmful to you.

Smoothing the Surface

After the paint is removed you’ll need to make sure the surfaces of the cabinets are smooth. Use a power sander or do it by hand. The power sander would be quicker, but you run the risk of making gouges. Either way, start with a rough grit and make sure all the paint is removed. Use a finer grit sandpaper to smooth out the entire surface. Once the surface is smooth you’re ready to move to the next step.


When the cabinets are smooth it’s time to actually reface them. There are a couple of choices you can make for your new look. One is to paint. Another is to apply a veneer. Each has some merit.

Painting is simpler, quicker, and requires less expertise to ensure it’s done correctly. Veneers come in many textures and colors and can provide a more stylized appearance. Choosing a finish for your cabinets is a decision that you can base on personal preference and your budget. Once you’ve decided on how to reface your cabinets you’re ready to proceed to the next step.


If you’ve decided to paint, the first step is to make sure the surfaces of the cabinets are smooth and clean. Brush off any grit left from the sander. Apply the paint in smooth, even strokes making sure the entire surface is uniformly coated. It would advisable to give the cabinets a second coat, or even a third, to ensure they will remain looking new for as long as possible. When the paint is dry, put on new handles and hinges, and the cabinets are ready to hang.


A veneer is a thin coating of material designed to cover a surface, such as your old cabinets. Veneer is made of very thin strips of wood that can be placed over the existing surface. The veneer can be much more decorative than the original surfacing and comes in many styles and colors. It is applied by peeling off a protective covering which protects an adhesive surface.

If you’ve decided on a veneer, the first step is the same as painting; make sure the surface is smooth and brush off any grit left from the sander. Cut each piece of veneer to size. It may be advisable to leave a small margin that can be trimmed later. Remove the protective covering from the back of the veneer and place it on the surface of the cabinet. Be careful to place the veneer squarely on the cabinet. Starting in the center and working your way toward the edges should prevent bubbles from forming. Using a flat piece of wood, make sure the veneer is applied evenly, and then trim the edges. Once the adhesive dries you’re ready to install the new handles and hinges and hang your newly refaced cabinets.

Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about home insurance and related topics for

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