Cabinet Refacing Tips

Refacing cabinets can extend the life of your cabinets by at least a few years. Hundreds of dollars less expensive than replacing them, refacing your current cabinets can add money to your decorating budget that can be utilized elsewhere. Doing it yourself adds to the pot, as well. So here are a few tips on doing this job that will give you a leg up on a project that many go into without a clue as to what should be done or how to do it.

New Doors or Not

First you’ll want to determine whether or not your existing cabinet doors can be salvaged by veneering them or whether they’ll need to be replaced. If they are flat, applying veneer to them may be the most cost-effective solution.

If the doors are not flat-surfaced or have major gouges or other flaws that veneer can’t remedy, you need to order new doors before you do anything else. If you’re planning on adding new trim to your cabinets, order this, as well.

Begin by Removal of…Just About Everything

Once the door issue above has been resolved, the next to-do item on the list is to remove everything in the cabinets, as well as taking off the doors, removing drawers, and all the hardware (hinges, knobs). You then will want to take off any existing trim.

Make Repairs and Prepare for Veneer

Repair any loose parts or damage to the cabinets. This may mean filling in gouges or holes with wood putty, sanding, and then applying a good polyurethane sealant or varnish.

Rough up existing cabinet surfaces by sanding with 80-grit sandpaper. For thick finishes or those with a good laminate surface, this step can be bypassed, but these types surfaces still need to be prepped with a thorough cleaning in order for the contact cement used for veneering to adhere properly. Grease or dirt can cause the applied veneer to buckle and peel off in a short time.

Getting Down to Business

Cut veneer pieces ahead of time, making them slightly oversized. Using a hair dryer to heat first, peel off the backing from the veneer. For best results, contact cement should be used on both the veneer and the cabinet (both surfaces) in addition to the adhesive on the peel-and-stick veneer.

Use a solvent-based contact cement and be sure to follow package directions. Allow the cement to set for 12 minutes. Apply veneer to cabinet door edges and end panels first, allowing the edges to overhang for trimming later.

Finishing Up

Lightly sand the edges of the veneer when finished, and then stain and finish with your desired products. Fill any remaining cracks with colored wood putty to match and use a rasp to file down any rough edges of the veneer.

Although refacing cabinets is not the same as having brand new cabinets, you can achieve a freshened-up look that gives your kitchen a facelift that will last for at least several years – maybe even until you can afford the new ones! So take your time and think about how much money you’re saving. It’ll make the job that much easier.

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