The first thing you will need to determine is whether you will be painting your kitchen cabinets or if you will be using a wood finish. If you will simply be painting your kitchen cabinets that is quite a bit easier than achieving a wood finish.
If you desire a painted finish there are a few choices you will have to make. One is whether to replace your existing cabinet doors, or to just paint the old ones. Most people that undertake a cabinet reface or resurfacing project have grown tired of their cabinets and cabinet doors so it is very common to replace the cabinet doors prior to repainting your cabinets.
Now if your going to want a wood finish for your cabinet refacing project then it is a bit more involved than just repainting cabinets. Typical cabinet refacing involves replacing the old cabinet doors with new ones and adding a thin solid wood veneer to the face frame, and any exposed cabinet ends. During this process the veneer is cut to fit on every surface of the cabinet. Now you may be saying “this is already getting complicated” but rest assured this is a DIY project.
With either route you take, painting or wood finish, you will need new cabinet doors. Building custom cabinet doors is usually out of the scope of most do it yourselfers and far beyond this article. But don’t let that discourage you, many have made their own cabinet doors, but keep in mind it will take a variety of specialized tools and equipment, as well as a good supply of hardwood lumber. Now days the cost for quality custom cabinet doors have made it affordable for the DIYer. There are numerous custom cabinet door companies out there but I have included a resource below that has the best quality, price and selection of cabinet doors and refacing materials I have found to date.
How To Measure For Cabinet Doors
If you will be purchasing new doors for your refacing project you will have to measure for new cabinet doors. If your existing cabinet door hinges are still in good shape and you want to save some cash you can reuse them. In this case all you have to do is measure your old doors and your good to go. One thing to keep in mind if your old doors have a rabbet around the door, or simply put a notch that runs all the way around the door you will need to order doors that have that should you be using the same hinges. Also some hinges work with finger pull edges that is milled around the door, if you put a door that has square edges in those hinges you may have some problems with the door gap when two doors come together. All you have to do is make sure the new doors will work with your existing hinges.
If you will be buying new hinges for you r cabinet doors you will need to measure the cabinet openings themselves and add the appropriate overlay of the hinge. The most common is ½” overlay hinges. There are 1/4″ and 3/4″ overlays as well. If you are using 35mm European style hinges then these overlays are most often times determined by the mounting plate that the hinge uses. So the part of the hinge that get drilled into the door remains the same and you can set the overlay by using a different overlay hinge plate that snaps into the hinge. There are literally hundreds of different types of European hinges for just about every application. The ones I am referring to here are face frame mounted overlay hinges.
Ordering Cabinet Doors
One you have your cabinet door dimensions, you are ready to order your new custom cabinet doors. There are virtually endless styles of doors that can be made. But one of the more affordable types I see requested for quite often in kitchen cabinet refacing is the shaker style door. It is a inset or also called recessed panel cabinet door. These types of cabinet doors can be made from affordable MDF and also a combination of wood frame and MDF center panel for additional saving for those of you that want to paint them. Along with the popular shaker style are traditional raised panel, bead board, and applied moulding doors. There are even solid slab cabinet doors for that clean modern look. Another thing I would like to mention is you can also purchase cabinet end panels that will match your new cabinet doors, these are great for cabinet ends, island ends, or even can be used as wainscoting in areas of the kitchen or other parts of the home for that matter. It give a truly custom look to your finished project. The sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to doors. What you ultimately decide on is what will fit your decor and your cabinet refacing budget.
During the purchase of your cabinet doors you can also order the necessary veneer to apply to your cabinet face frames and exposed ends. This veneer material is available with an adhesive back, a peel and stick affair. You can purchase it in raw wood and apply a contact cement to both the cabinet and the veneer. I don’t recommend that approach for most DIYers its messy and there are not much savings over the peel and stick veneers. Along with your cabinet door purchase you may also opt to replace the cabinet drawer boxes, other options include pull out or “roll out” drawers, trays, etc. These are great storage and back saver options. One thing the company I use offers that can be hard to find is custom made bread boards. This is great for replacing the old nasty worn out plywood breadboards that come with some homes. Although it seems to be a fading trend to have built in bread boards there are some people that really like them and nothing beats a solid hardwood bread board, if built from quality hardwoods they will last a lifetime. There a so many other options such as organizer trays for silverware, garbage bins, that I simply can not list them all here, but I would like to make you aware of them prior to tackling a refacing project so that you can perhaps further research them and see it they may fit your needs.
Applying The Veneer
Applying the veneer is a simple but time consuming. I will give you as many pointers as I can to aid you in this process. You will have to cut the veneer to fit it to your cabinet face frame and cabinet end panels. This is pretty straightforward, measure the pieces you will need and cut them to fit. One of the best ways to cut veneer is with a good sharp utility knife and a metal straight edge. You will want to use a sacrificial sheet of plywood or mdf under your cutting. When cutting for the face frame pieces of your cabinets always try to be as accurate as possible so you do not have to trim the veneer when it is placed on the cabinets, its ok if it’s a 1/32″ over and you have use a block plane or a sanding block to fine tune it, any more than that you will have to try to cut it flush and that can cause problems, so accuracy is important here. Once you have all the cabinet face frames and ends covered you can move on to installing your new cabinet doors.
Installing Your New Custom Cabinet Doors
Once you have unpacked your new replacement cabinet doors your have the option to hang them on the cabinet, or as I would recommend is to paint or stain them off of the cabinet cases. This allows for the best possible coverage and the most professional looking job. Also install the hinges after everything is painted or stained to prevent unwanted finish build up on the hinges and drawer guides. That is the true mark of a professional finishing job no paint or finish on the cabinet hardware.
A great way to lay out your new cabinet doors for painting or staining is to set up a few saw horses and place some 2 x 2 or 2 x 4 across them. You may opt to paint or spray them on these saw horses or you can spray each door one at a time and place them on the saw horses to dry, allowing each side to dry before flipping or recoating.
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