In this guide I’m going to walk you through the process of evaluating your kitchen cabinetry and determining if it’s best to gut, simply have them refinished or repainted, or a third option: keeping the cabinets currently installed and incorporating replacement cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
Yes, this entire process can be overwhelming. No question. But with a little guidance and help, you’ll be on your way to a successful end product. Not to say that there won’t be a little stress here and there, but I’m a firm believer that much of the stress that occurs in life can be at least somewhat alleviated by first investing a little time in getting educated on the topic at hand.
I also intend to walk you through the process of each, depending on the final option you end up doing.
So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get started.
What’s In This Guide?
Chapter 1: Know Thyself…Then Know “This” Before Embarking
Before you can even consider going on a remodel project, by all means, make sure you have a solid budget in place. Here are some tips.
Chapter 2: My Own Research and What I Learned
Cost is always a factor. Here are some things I learned from my own experience as I priced some options for my own kitchen.
Chapter 3: Getting Your Bearings
What condition is your cabinetry in? Some questions and things to consider regarding your cabinets before continuing with your remodel project.
Chapter 4: Getting Started with Replacement Cabinet Doors
If you plan to keep your cabinetry and just want to give your cabinets a facelift, here are some simple steps to get you started.
Chapter 5: You’ve Got Style…Now Show It Off!
Here is a quick rundown of some of the popular kitchen styles and what makes each style unique.
Chapter 6: 1, 2, 3…Grab the Tape Measure!
Before continuing, having accurate measurements of each cabinet door and drawer front is essential. Here are some quick tips on achieving accurate dimensions.
Chapter 7: Don’t Forget these for Hanging Your Doors
Hidden or traditional? What’s your preferred style of hinge? Here’s a rundown of each type and recommended places to purchase them.
Chapter 8: Knobs and Pulls and Bars, Oh My!
Hinges are great, and even necessary for hanging your doors. This section provides information on the exterior hardware: the pulls and knobs.
Chapter 9: A Shopping We Will Go!
Once you’ve determined to proceed with replacement cabinet doors, how do you go about ordering them? We focus here on ordering cabinet doors online, along with the drawer fronts.
Chapter 10: Complete Your Kitchen (or Bath) Remodel with New Drawer Fronts
Replacement cabinet doors? Check. But don’t forget the drawer fronts. You gotta have the drawer fronts to complete that renovation!
Chapter 11: Tick. Tock. Short Lead Times Rock!
After placing your order, when can you expect your items to arrive? We’ll give you a timeframe here.
Chapter 12: Your Order Arrives!
The happy day arrives, as do your products. Now what? Just a quick checklist on what to look for to make sure your order arrived in tact and that each ordered item is contained within the packaging..
Chapter 13: Your Cabinets, Your Canvas
To stain or to paint, that is the question. Your cabinets, doors, and drawer fronts are like a canvas, ready for you to apply your creative juices.
Chapter 14: Hang Your Canvas for All To See
And finally, how to hang your cabinet doors. Also, we provide stepps for replacing the drawer fronts.
Know thyself…then know “this” before embarking
I love the movie “The Sound of Music”! One of my favorite scenes is when Maria is on the side of that stunningly beautiful mountain in Austria. She gathers the children around her, pulls out her guitar, and asks the kids what songs they know.
And to her great surprise she learned that they didn’t know any!
After getting over the shock of the children not knowing any songs, she thought for a split second, plucked a few cords on the guitar, then began singing “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”
So, I’ll take my cue from Maria and will start at the very beginning, since it truly is the best place to start when embarking on a new project.
And where, exactly, is that beginning?
In this case, it’s your budget.
Here’s the deal…
Socrates once said “Know thyself.”
So, in the same vein as Socrates, I’m suggesting “Know thy budget.”
What is your budget you’ve determined for your remodel?
Is it large? Or not so much?
This probably sounds obvious, but many start a remodel project, and have no idea what subtle things can potentially rear their ugly heads throughout the project.
So, again, know what your budget is…stick to it.
Do you need a large budget? That depends. A few months back I interviewed Katz (her nickname) in Hawaii who, along with her husband, had purchased a fixer-upper (actually, the home had been labeled “condemned” by the city!). They had a very small budget.
Actually, small budget doesn’t really even describe it. Katz and her husband’s budget essentially was nothing. But, with hard work, perseverence, and ingenuity, they took their kitchen from “Ewww” to “Hey, not too shabby!”
So, determine your budget and stick to it. Prepare for those unexpected items. But at least with a budget in mind, and hopefully written down, you now have a road map of how far you can go.
My own research: and what I learned
I currently live in a house that my father built in the early 1960s. As far as I know my parents at one point had the cabinets refinished, but besides that, there hasn’t been a whole lot of remodels or updates throughout the years.
So, I did some research to get an idea of the cost for two different options available for a kitchen remodel, with specific focus on the cabinets.
I contacted a local cabinet maker to get estimates on a couple of options. I wanted to know the approximate potential cost for 1) a complete gut with new cabinetry installed, and 2) simply refinishing the existing oak cabinets.
My first two options and ballpark cost estimates for each are as follows:
|Option 1: Full Cabinet Gut:||$15,000.00 – $20,000|
|Option 2: Refinishing:||$3,500.00 – $4,500.00|
I received these estimate ranges from a local kitchen remodeler. The Full Cabinet Gut was specifically for custom cabinets. He also indicated that I could go through a local big-box retailer like Lowe’s or Home Depot, and have semi-custom cabinets made. The price for semi-custom cabinets would be around 15% to 20% less than the full custom cabinets.
OK. I’ll also admit: there was a bit of sticker shock. I mean, this is not a large kitchen! But it is what it is.
Thankfully there’s a third option…
I looked into replacement cabinet doors and drawer fronts. I mean, if your cabinets are still in good condition, why spend a large sum to replace them? And if you’re looking for a nice facelift for your cabinetry, which can give a new look to your kitchen as well, then simply replacing cabinet doors and drawer fronts just might be the option for you and your DIY remodel project.
I priced cabinet doors and drawer fronts in a style that fits my taste—the Shaker—along with matching drawer fronts.
Keep in mind that the kitchen in my inherited house is pretty small, only 9′ x 17′. If I ever tried putting a sink with cabinetry in the middle of the kitchen, it would end up being a full continent, not an island! So, we’re not talking about a full gourmet kitchen by any means!
Nonetheless, the final price for Shaker cabinet doors and matching Shaker drawer fronts came out to the following:
Keep in mind that there will be additional costs, whether you decide to do-it-yourself, or hire a contractor. Such costs include:
- Sanding existing cabinetry to prepare for painting or staining
- The paint or stain you choose
- Cabinetry and drawer front hardware (ie, knobs and pulls)
Costs will also vary depending on the size of your kitchen, and the amount of cabinetry it contains.
Hopefully, the options I researched will be of help to you and give you an idea of costs involved and which on will best fit your budget.
Getting Your Bearings
Back in 1967, Kenny Rogers, along with his band, The First Edition, recorded a hit song that contained the lyrics: “I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in.”
I will not use this platform to argue the wisdom of Mr. Roger’s lyrics, but I will pose a similar question to you…
…when was the last time you dropped in to see what condition your cabinets are in?
And what I mean by that is in what condition are they? If your home is older, are the existing cabinets original? Be aware that well constructed kitchen cabinets can last up to 50 years.
These might be obvious questions to ask, but it’s a great place to start.
Even in older homes, such as the one I’m living in that my father built in the early 1960s, the cabinetry, having been cared for throughout the years, may very well still be in great condition.
In such situations, there probably isn’t really a need to gut the cabinetry and have a cabinet maker make from scratch the entire kitchen cabinets again…
…but here’s the deal…
…perhaps the need does exist for new cabinetry.
Perhaps you’re planning a new kitchen layout with a wall knocked out here, or an island put in there, that will most likely result in the need for new cabinetry to be built and installed.
Besides a complete kitchen overhaul, what are some signs that you might want to keep what you have…or not?
Well, I’ll take my cue from comedian Jeff Foxworthy. If you’re familiar with his style of stand-up, you’ll recognize his “You might be a redneck if…” shtick.
If your cabinets are bulging and swollen, you might need to replace your cabinets.
If your drawers are not closing properly and snugly, you might need to replace your cabinets.
If the general functionality of your cabinets is frustrating, you might need to replace your cabinets.
If you find an unpleasant odor, caused by mold, emitting from your cabinetry, you might need to replace your cabinets.
Has the wood on the sides of your cabinetry started to warp? If so, you might need to replace your cabinets.
Are your cabinets “bubbling up” on the inside or outside, or de-laminating? If so, you might need to replace your cabinets.
If your cabinets feel “soft” to the touch, you might need to replace your cabinetry.
…if, after careful inspection, you discover that your cabinetry is in good condition throughout the kitchen or bath, celebrate! You can relax and save the money for perhaps a more pressing project!
In such a case, it appears that either Options 2 or 3 might be the way to proceed.
Getting Started with Replacement Cabinet Doors
After reviewing your needs and where you want to go with your project, if you decide that simply refinishing your cabinetry, along with a new look provided by replacement doors for kitchen cabinets is your preferred option, then a few steps will be required.
So, let’s begin with a few basic steps:
1. Count each cabinet door and drawer front.
Write down the total number of cabinet doors in your kitchen. Then write down the total number of drawer fronts.
This may sound elementary, but believe me, you don’t want to have received your order, only to learn that you missed a couple of doors or drawer fronts!
Don’t forget to count the double doors—those “twin” doors that cover a large opening—as TWO doors.
Now might be a good time to get a pen and notebook.
2. Speaking of double doors, count how many openings in your kitchen are covered by double doors.
The nice thing about the double doors is that you only have to measure one, then multiply that by 2 for the number of doors in that size!
3. Come up with a code or system for remembering size and where each door will go.
Let me explain…
When I went through my kitchen and measured the doors and drawer fronts, I had a starting place. In my kitchen, it was the counter where the phone is. I began there and simply moved from left to right, around the entire kitchen, until I had all doors and drawer fronts counted and measured (See Chapter 6 below for steps on measuring).
Determine which method makes the most sense to you.
When counting and measuring doors and drawer fronts, consider sticking round color coding labels on each door and drawer front. Then number each sticker (ie, 1, 2, 3, etc). Write down the number in your note book, along with the measurement of the corresponding door or drawer front. For double doors, use the same number.
You’ve Got Style…Now Go Show It Off!
Orson Welles once said: “Create your own visual style…let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.”
So, what is YOUR style? What sources inspire that style? Are you more traditional? Contemporary? Or somewhere in between?
With those questions churning in your mind, let’s talk a little about the styles that exist for kitchens.
When you hear traditional as a style describing a kitchen, or home, what exactly does that mean? What images come to mind?
Generally, when we refer to a kitchen as traditional, we’re looking at their charming details. These old-world details can include decorative molding or classic raised-panel cabinet doors.
Does a farmhouse kitchen conjur up memories of visiting your grandparents out on the farm as a child? A farmhouse kitchen includes traditional-type cabinetry with simple, open style cabinet doors or a more decorative style open door. Either way, you can peer through the sparkling glass door and see the old farm dishes and glassware.
One of my personal favorite features of a farmhouse kitchen is the wide apron sink!
There are quite a few interpretations of what a contemporary/modern kitchen is. As a general rule, a contemporary kitchen contains visual elements such as frameless cabinets, simple or no hardware, sleek and minimalist design and lines, and sharp corners.
For a bit more in depth ideas on what makes a contemporary kitchen you can refer to an earlier article in which I interviewed a couple of interior designers from Est Est, an interior design firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
For that sleek modern look, consider rigid thermal foil cabinet doors and drawer fronts. The available colors, along with grain styles, make an excellent marriage between form and function for any contemporary kitchen!
Transitional kitchens are simply the best of both worlds—traditional and contemporary.
A transitional kitchen possesses the simplicity and homey-ness of a traditional space, while at the same time throwing into the mix a little contemporary spice of clean lines and sleekness.
If you love traditional, but also have an appreciation for a clean contemporary look, then a transitional style may be the perfect marriage.
Classic, with clean lines. That’s the transitional kitchen.
Warm yellows and oranges, with a hint of hand-painted blue tiles. These are the colors of a Mediterranean kitchen.
Besides the colors, a Mediterranean kitchen possesses flared hoods, warm, inviting wood cabinetry, and beamed ceilings.
Shaker: one of my personal favorites!
A shaker kitchen is founded on a country charm. Shaker style cabinet doors are simple and very functional and are generally stained in a neutral tone. Of course, some will choose to paint the cabinetry white which will brighten any space.
As in a contemporary kitchen, a shaker kitchen will also possess clean, sleek lines, though they are much more simplistic.
One final thing to consider…
Is Shaker your style?
Perhaps sleek-lined Contemporary kitchen is your goal?
Whatever style you decide to implement, ask yourself one final thing: do you plan on having external hardware on your cabinet doors or drawer fronts?
The style you choose comes down to your personal taste. Some like a stylish knob or pull, some don’t want anything but the simplicity of the door or drawer front showing in the kitchen.
If you decide not to go with any hardware, then you’ll need to consider ordering your doors and drawer fronts with grooved edges to make it easy to open doors and drawers.
Here at Fab Cabinets, you can order outside edges with finger pulls. The following outside edges come with a finger pull groove:
Something to keep in mind.
1,2,3…Grab the Tape Measure!
As we move along, now comes the math-y part: the part where you measure for each cabinet door and drawer front.
This also is the part where it might be a good idea to work in pairs so that one of you measures, announces the measurement, while the other person writes each measurement in the notebook. Then switch roles, go through the process again, making sure each measurement is accurate.
And speaking of…
Remember back in section 4, Getting Started with Replacement Cabinet Doors, I suggested that at that time it was a good idea to grab a pen and notebook?
I also suggested in that section that you get some round label stickers to place on your current cabinet doors and drawer fronts, numbering each label, then writing that number down in your notebook.
Go get that notebook and labels and start measuring each cabinet door and drawer front.
I’ll give a brief outline here of the measuring process, but for a more in-depth review, please visit our previous article on measuring cabinet doors and drawer fronts. It’ll be well worth your time.
Measuring for Overlay Doors
If you plan on having your cabinet doors slightly overlay the cabinetry, follow these simple steps:
- Measure the height and width of your cabinet door opening to the nearest 1/8″.
- Write down each measurement (in a width x height format) in a notepad.
- Make sure that there is at least a 5/8″ clearance around all openings.
And that’s it in a nutshell for OVERLAY doors.
Write down FINISHED door size for each door, followed by the number of doors of that size. For example if you have four cabinet doors that are 26″ high x 21″ wide, write it down as 26″H X 21″W (x4). You only have to write it down once, then in parentheses the number of doors in that size. This will be helpful as well when you place your order.
Measuring for Inset Doors
- Measure the opening as instructed above
- Subtract 1/8″ all the way around the opening of the frame
Note: If you’re happy with the hang of your existing doors or drawer fronts—meaning, overlay or inset—then by all means, just measure the existing doors!
The main things to keep in mind throughout the measuring process:
- All FINAL measurements must reflect the FINISHED DOOR or DRAWER FRONT SIZE (not merely the opening)
- All measurements must be in LENGTH X WIDTH format
- All measurements must be in INCHES
Don’t Forget these for Hanging Your Doors
Now that you’ve completed the measurements, it’s time to consider the hardware: in this instance, the hinges that you’ll use to hang the doors.
You have a couple of options:
- Hidden hinges, or
- Traditional hinges
Hidden hinges are a popular hinge option for hanging cabinet doors. Having the hinges hidden and out of sight gives your kitchen and cabinetry a clean, minimalist look with a visual focus on the cabinetry.
How do you hang cabinet doors with hidden hinges? The process is simple. Here are the steps:
Items you’ll need: a drill, 5/8″ long wood screws, hinges.
- First, when placing your online order, make sure you select one of the following options under Prebore Options (see image below for details): a) Cup Only (3mm DBE), b) Cup Only (6mm DBE), c) Cup and Dowel (3mm DBE), d) Cup and Dowel (6mm DBE).
- Insert the hinge into the prebore cup on the back of your door. With the prebore holes, the hinge should fit like hand-in-glove…or in this case, hinge in prebore hole!
- Take your 5/8″-long screws and drill each into the two holes on the back of the cabinet door.
- Repeat for each of the two hinges for each door.
- Done! It’s just a matter of clipping the cabinet door onto the cabinet case at this point.
Perhaps hidden hinges don’t fit your style. Perhaps you want a displayed door hinge.
If you want to go the traditional hinge route, be aware that they only can be used on face frame cabinetry.
They come in a variety of styles and finishes and are simple to install.
If you have frameless cabinetry, you only can install full overlay doors with hinges attached to the sides of the cabinet box.
Also, be aware for cabinet run endings, make certain that you attach the hinges on the end. For example, if you have a pantry door that is on the left end, install the doors with the hinges on the left end.
Where to get cabinetry hardware
There’s no shortage of places—both brick and mortar and online&mdashto purchase hardware. Here are a few to consider:
Knobs and Pulls and Bars, Oh My!
Hinges are a necessity for hanging your cabinet doors.
Now comes the fun stuff…the “pretty” hardware: the knobs and pulls.
Keep in mind that many cabinet door styles do not need any hardware. This is because some styles have a finger pull, or groove cut out of the stiles and rails which make it easy to grab and pull the door open.
For standard, or partial, overlay doors that come with finger pulls, you don’t need hardware, but you can add them for aesthetic reasons.
For full overlay doors you’re definitely going to need the hardware for opening.
With knobs and pulls you can get creative and add the finishing visual touches to your remodel project.
There really aren’t a ton of rules regarding knobs and pulls. Something to be aware of, though, if that if you have a drawer that is 27 inches or more, you might want to place two knobs to facilitate pulling. You also might consider a long bar handle as well.
Now it’s simply a matter of deciding if you want to use knobs, bars, or pulls on your cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
As a general rule, place cabinet door knobs and pulls in the center of the stile approximately one inch up from the top of the bottom rail.
For places to purchase knobs and pulls, refer to Chapter 7 above.
A Shopping We Will Go!
Now the fun part…
You have a couple of great options for purchasing cabinet doors and drawer fronts:
- A reputable cabinet maker in your area, or
- An online shop.
How to find cabinet makers in your area
When it comes to finding someone to make your cabinet doors, consider a reputable cabinet maker in your area. You can find local contractors on Angie’s List. You also can refer to cabinet professionals on Houzz, where they provide a listing of over 65,000 cabinet making professionals found nationwide.
A great service provided on both Angie’s List and Houzz is that many of the professionals have ratings with reviews, so you can see others’ experiences with a particular cabinet maker.
There are several advantages of going local. One is that…well…it’s local! You can check in to see how your order is coming along. You also can talk to local residents in your area who have received services from a particular cabinet maker to see what their experience was like.
Plus, you don’t have to pay shipping!
Purchasing from an online shop
Another option is to place your order through an online shop.
One advantage of purchasing your cabinets through an online shop is cost savings. Also, online shops may tend to offer more wood materials options, especially if they have partnered with a large manufacturing facility.
So, before making the final purchase, weigh your options. Perhaps going through a local cabinet maker will be a better choice for you. Or, perhaps an online shop will offer you the specific options you need for your project.
At this point I’ll take you on a tour of ordering online here at Fab Cabinets. Each online experience will vary.
Select Your Style
First things first: select the cabinet door style you want to have in your kitchen (or bath). Refer to section You’ve Got Style…Now Go Show It Off! above for a quick primer on the different kitchen styles and potential cabinet doors that fit well within that style.
Once you’ve determined the door you want, go to that door’s product page on the website. For example, let’s say you are interested in the Revere Cabinet Door.
Go to the Revere Cabinet Door page and complete your order as follows:
1. From the Select Wood Type dropdown list, choose the material that you want your doors to be made from.
Note: PG stands for “Paint Grade.” The first couple of options show as PG (ie, Paint Grade) materials. Select these if you plan on painting your cabinetry and doors.
For a glimpse of wood types and how they appear unfinished, you can scroll down on each product page and browse the Wood Samples Chart.
2. From the Select Outside Edge dropdown list, select the outside edge type you want applied to each door.
You can scroll down the page and view the outside edge options in the Standard Outside Edge Profiles chart.
3. From the Frame Thickness dropdown list, select the thickness you want the drawer frame to be manufactured.
Select either 13/16″ or 3/4″.
4. From the Prebore Options dropdown list, select the type of prebore holes, if any, that you’d like drilled into the back of your cabinet doors.
Only select prebore options if you plan on using hidden hinges. If you plan to use traditional hinges, leave this option as “No prebore holes.”
If you are ordering arch doors, you must specify the side (left or right) where you want the prebore holes to appear.
Unlike simple square doors, arch doors cannot be turned around and still appear the same; they are more specific, so the prebore holes therefore must be on a specific side. You are given an opportunity to enter the sides for the prebore holes on each arch door product page.
5. In the Additional Order Notes text box, enter any additional notes for the door, such the the Panel type you want.
You can see which panel styles are available for each cabinet door at the bottom of the Description area.
Finally, and perhaps most important, you need to enter dimensions of each door.
6. In the Length and Width text boxes enter the dimensions of each door in inches.
Next to the Add to Cart button you’ll notice a quantity text box.
7. Enter the quantity of doors you need in the size you entered in Step 6.
If you only need one door in that size, leave the quantity set to 1.
8. Click Add to Cart.
The door(s) is added to your shopping Cart.
9. If you are going to be ordering doors in different sizes, change the length and width sizes in the measurement text box then repeat Steps 7 through 8.
Complete Your Kitchen (or Bath) Remodel with New Drawer Fronts
If you’re in the middle of a complete remodel, don’t forget the drawer fronts!
You’ll find a vast array of matching 5-piece styles, or for a clean look, you might decide upon a solid drawer front style to complete your look.
The process is similar to ordering your cabinet doors:
- Find the drawer front style of your choice
- Select the wood type (make sure it matches your cabinet door)
- Select the outside edge
- Enter the dimensions
Tick. Tock. Short Lead Times Rock!
If you decide that going through a local cabinet maker is your best option, be sure to check with them before placing your order on the lead time—the time it’s going to take them to actually complete the order once you place it. It’s also a good idea to check on any orders ahead of you, as that can add to the lead time.
Once you’ve placed your order at an online shop, including here at Fab Cabinets, the actual time to complete and manufacture your order will be 7 to 10 business days.
Please be aware that we no longer stock certain materials. That does NOT mean you cannot order products in those materials. You can. But, it will add time to complete your order.
Solid Materials We No Longer Stock
- Beech (Rustic)
- Birch (Select White)
- Maple (Wormy)
- Pine (Clear)
- Red Oak (Rustic)
- Red Oak (Rift-Straight Grain)
- Red Oak (Quarter Sawn)
- Vertical Grain Fir
Plywood Materials We No Longer Stock
- Alder with Natural Birch Panel
- Birch – Select White
- Pine (Knotty)
- Red Oak (Rift-Straight Grain)
- Red Oak (Quarter Sawn)
- Vertical Grain Fir
- White Oak (Quarter Sawn)/li>
To review, you CAN order products in materials that we do not stock. It can take up to an additional 3 weeks to complete the order.
The Order Arrives!
The day finally arrives! If you completed your order online, the shipper drops off your freshly manufactured doors and drawer fronts.
Remember that notebook with all your doors and drawer fronts and sizes you wrote down during Chapter 5, 1,2,3…Grab the Tape Measure!?
It’s now time to take out the ol’ notebook one last time and review everything you just received and compare the items in the packaging to your notes.
Make sure each item you ordered is contained within the package. If there are any issues with your order, please let us know immediately. We’ll be happy to help!
Your Cabinets, Your Canvas
Henry David Thoreau once said “The world is but a canvas to our imagination.”
Well, your cabinetry, along with your new doors and drawer fronts, are now your blank canvas, only limited by your imagination.
So, what are you going to do with those new doors? Paint them? Stain them? Apply an antiquing medium for a true old-world look? There are endless possibilities that come down to your taste, personal style, and vision.
Once you’ve decided on a finish, be it stain or paint, and before even touching the cabinetry and accessories, I have a wise piece of advice: Practice! Practice! Practice!
Small pieces of wood preferably in the wood materials you’ve chosen for your cabinetry and cabinet doors—especially if you plan on staining! Painting, not so much, since you’ll simply be covering the items with a coat or two of paint.
But either way, practice on some scrap pieces, again especially if you are going to stain! Also, if you plan on staining, practicing on some scrap wood gives you the opportunity to try out some different stain colors and shades to see which one you like the best.
Another thought to consider: the material (ie, wood type).
Some wood types are better canvases for painting than staining. Others take stain very well. Check out our article What Types Of Wood Are Used For Kitchen Cabinets?. This article is an excellent primer on wood types and their characteristics.
If you’re in the middle of a remodel, take into consideration the amount of time it’s going to take to prepare your existing cabinetry for the finish or paint. There’s going to be the sanding phase. This can be very time consuming if going at it alone. If you have a lot of time, then go for it! But then, this also might be a point where you consider hiring a qualified contractor.
And when it comes to sanding, if you’re not experienced, practice is a good idea. A poor sanding job can end up grinding the edges as well as the grain, leaving burns that will then not stain evenly.
The wood type matters, as well. For example, oak doesn’t take paint very well. It’s just such a grainy wood. A little research on your wood type will save you hassle and headache down the road.
Stains 101: A Brief Overview6
The DIY Network provides a great summary on varieties of stains.
Here is a quick summary:
Green Wood Finishes
Green wood finishes consist of natural oils and waxes. Of all the wood finishes, green wood finishes are the most eco-friendly. So, if that is a priority, consider some fine green wood finishes to complete your project.
Beeswax and linseed oil are two well known green finishes, as well as safflower oil and carnauba wax.
Water-based varnishes and stains also fall under the umbrella of green finishes. To be certain that a stain is eco-friendly, look for any VOC content on the manufacturer’s label to determine ingredients.
Another option, though they do not fall under the eco-friendly category, are natural wood finishes. Be aware that this category of finishes and stains tend to soak deep into the grain of the wood. This can make it difficult to remove down the road should you want to refinish your cabinetry at some point.
Some additional things to consider regarding natural wood finishes:
- The protection they provide your wood products vary.
- Consider purchasing a fitting interior or exterior formula.
- Consider the finished product: Do you want an invisible coat, or color?
- Do you prefer a matte or a gloss finish?
- Be aware that some stains only require a single coat; others require multiple coats.
Are stains for every kitchen? Not really. Consider who’ll be using it and who’ll be trafficking through. For young families with young children, perhaps stain is a better way to go since paint tends to chip and peel, especially with more traffic and usage.
Some quick tips on staining:
- Always practice on scrap wood first (we can’t state this enough)! Preferably in the wood type that matches your cabinetry.
- So that your stain applies evenly and doesn’t blotch, brush on a coat of wood conditioner first, then the stain.
- Mix oil-based stains thoroughly, since they contain pigments that tend to rest at the bottom of the can.
- Apply stain with a brush or rag.
- Stain only provides the color. After stain has dried, apply a finish.
For a more in depth review of proper staining practices, check out these tips.
So maybe that white painted cabinet look is your thing. After all, a kitchen with white cabinetry certainly makes a kitchen feel bright and cheerful.
As with staining, there’s going to be the preparation phase of the cabinetry. The big portion being the sanding of any existing stain or paint. This can be a huge task, so again, you may want to consider a reputable contractor.
Also, consider the quality of your cabinetry. A lower quality-made cabinet may not sand as well as a higher quality-made cabinet.
If you’re going to paint, remember that kitchens are inherently dirty places. Remember: Food fries, grease flies! Food falls, stains walls! And if you’ve painted with a lower quality paint, the color is going to fade and become dingy over time.
And don’t forget small appliances, such as coffee makers or rice cookers. Running these close to painted cabinetry can eventually cause the paint to peel and bubble.
In a nutshell, prep! prep! and prep! Don’t skip the prep phase! Slow down and do it right from the start.
- Once you or a contractor has sanded the existing cabinetry, start with a good cleaning using Trisodium Phosphate (TSP), found in a lot of cleaning products. The TSP I’m referring to here is just a concentrated powder. Mix per the instructions and wipe down the cabinetry.
- It’s a good idea to apply a high-quality primer. Two coats wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Give the primer sufficient time to dry.
- Now the paint. For a high-traffic room like a kitchen, consider using a high quality enamel.
- For your doors, paint one side, let dry, the paint the inner side to give a matching appearance.
- Allow to dry.
OK. We’re almost there!
Hang Your Canvas for All To See
All the planning. All the hard physical work of sanding, staining, or painting have come to an end.
Now, like an artist, you’re at the point where you can actually hang your work for all to behold.
And that leaves one last question: how to hang your cabinet doors, and how do you replace the drawer fronts?
For doors, how you hang them will come down to the type of hinges you’re using: hidden or traditional.
Hanging Cabinet Doors with Hidden Hinges
After inserting the hinges into the prebore holes, the following steps are all you need to hang your doors:
Follow Danny Lipford’s, host of the Today’s Homeowner radio show, simple steps for installing your cabinet doors:
- Insert and clamp a small piece of scrap wood at the bottom of the door opening to support each door
- Get your drill and screw the hinges into the cabinet door frames
- Fine tune the placement of the cabinet doors by adjusting the screws on the hinges
Danny also shows you how to install your doors in the accompanying video.
Replacing Drawer Fronts
Follow a few simple steps and you’ll have your drawer fronts installed and complete.
- If you haven’t done so already, remove the current drawer fronts.
- On the front of the drawer, attach some double-sided foam mounting tape.
- Affix the new drawer front to the tape.
- Make certain the new drawer front is level and evenly spaced vertically and horizontally on the drawer.
- From the back side of the front of the drawer, drill the screws to firmly attach the drawer to the new drawer front.
- If desired, attach hardware (ie, knobs or pulls).
Still have questions? For a quick visual of how to install your new drawer fronts, you check out the following 2 minute video courtesy of our friends at Reface Depot:
Hopefully this guide has provided you with the knowledge, confidence, and a comprehensive checklist to proceed with your kitchen or bath remodel project.
Author Stephen R. Covey urged his readers to “Begin with the end in mind.”
I echo that statement for your remodel project.
Yes, it takes planning.
Yes, it takes effort.
But with the end in mind—and I mean really visualize that finished remodel—you can take the steps to transform your space to meet your needs and dreams.
Stay focused. Mr. Covey also said: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
Go ahead, take the steps to fall in love with your kitchen all over again!
Now, that’s fab!