How To Reface Cabinets

he quality and style of the cabinets in your kitchen and bathrooms can affect the value of your home; is it time to invest in refacing them?

Your kitchen and bathrooms are the most important rooms in your home, in terms of real estate. Improvements in these rooms can offer you the biggest return on investment and can quite literally make or break the deal if you’re trying to sell your home. In terms of kitchen renovations, paying for new cabinets can take up nearly half of your budget, according to HGTV, so deciding whether to replace or reface them is not a decision to take lightly. If your cabinets are in decent condition, it will be more cost-efficient to reface them, rather than replace them. Here’s how to do it from the DIY Network:

Start by refacing sides, drawers, and doors with veneer and stain.

  1. Remove cabinet doors, drawers and all hardware.

  2. Flat-front doors and drawers are easily refaced (if yours have raised panels or other architectural detailing, consider buyingnew unfinished doors and drawers and stain them along with your cabinets)

  3. Sand the side and front surfaces of the old cabinets enough to rough up the surface so the new wood veneer will adhere properly

  4. Practice applying veneer in less visible areas of the cabinet like the side panel

  5. Apply a thin film of wood glue to the cabinet surface

  6. Use a nail gun with 5/8-inch brads to fix the veneer panel in place (adjust the nailer to sink the brad heads just below the veneer surface)

  7. Nail from top to bottom to avoid creating a bubble in the middle of the panel

  8. When all side panels are in place, use a block plane to trim the veneer edges so they are flush with the old cabinet faces

  9. Apply veneer to the cabinet fronts – veneer all of the horizontal areas and rails first, then use a razor knife to cut in the pieces for the vertical stiles.

  10. Trim all intersecting edges and corners so they are flush with the sides

  11. Reface the cabinet doors following the same procedure as above

  12. Fill all brad holes with wood putty colored to match your intended stain color.

  13. Let it dry and sand lightly to remove excess, use a sanding block to evenly distribute pressure and avoid gouges and indentations

Next: stain cabinet interiors

  1. When all of the cabinets are ready for stain, use a paint brush or rag to stain the inside edges and openings first, then the sides, and finally the cabinet fronts

  2. Apply a generous coat of stain, wipe away the excess and allow to dry according to the manufacturer’s directions

  3. Repeat with a second, final coat

  4. Stain the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, along with any separate wood pieces or moldings (if these parts have raised or routed features, use a paint brush to flow the stain into crevices and corners but don’t allow it to accumulate in these spots)

Finish Cabinets with Polyurethane

  1. Apply three coats of polyurethane to protect cabinets from heat, grease, steam, etc.

  2. Water-base polyurethane is a good choice because it’s relatively odor-free, “flattens” better than oil or alkyd urethanes and dries fast, allowing you to put on all three coats in a day.

  3. Use a brush recommended for the finish you choose and apply the first coat – Always brush in the same direction as the wood grain or pattern. Don’t lay the finish on thickly, and don’t overwork the brush — too many brush strokes will cause air bubbles in the finish, leaving bumps and pits when it dries

  4. After the first coat is dry, sand all surfaces lightly with fine-grit sandpaper to prepare them for the second coat

  5. Wipe away all sanding dust with a tack cloth, then apply the second coat of finish

  6. Repeat these steps with the third and final coat

Reassemble the Cabinets

  1. Install the door hinges first: position each hinge one hinge-length from the bottom and the top of the door (use the hinge itself to mark the location by lining it up with the door edge and marking the wood at its opposite end)

  2. Create a jig for pre-drilling door hinge holes in the cabinets – a shelf clamped to the bottom rail ensures that all doors will line up evenly when hung

  3. Install door shock absorbers inside each cabinet opening to enable the doors to open and close smoothly

  4. If you purchased new drawer fronts and boxes separately, lay one of the new drawer boxes on an old drawer front to ensure proper alignment (take equal measurements on the top, bottom and sides, then transfer these dimensions to the new front panel and drill pilot holes for the screws and clamp the front and box together when installing the screws from inside the drawer box)

  5. Repeat these steps with the other drawers

  6. When finished, install the drawer pulls

  7. Reattach the old slides to the new drawers, or install new drawer slides

Refacing cabinets can be more work than simply replacing them, but refacing allows you to save money while still giving your kitchen and/or bathrooms a great new look and thus increasing the value of your home. Read more on refacing cabinets from the DIY Network here.

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