Cabinet Refacing - Planning and Preparation

Kitchen cabinets.

Extravagant, fashionable and stocked with the latest hot technological gadgets, the kitchen has become the newest place to keep up with the Joneses. What used to simply serve as the functional center of the home has become the showpiece of most new and remodeled homes.

In a new construction setting, the imagination is the only limiting factor in the ultimate design and function of your space. In a remodel, however, there are often a plethora of limitations. Do you want to move your plumbing? What about electrical? Are you really ready for a new design, and the ensuing headaches that will inevitably arise when deconstructing your current kitchen?

Cabinet Refacing Benefits

Perhaps you just want to refresh the look of a kitchen that is functional within the space, but is beginning to show its age. If you love the layout of your kitchen but can't bear to look at the cabinets for one more day, then re-facing may be the option for you. Cabinet re-facing is a great option when it comes to upgrading the appearance of your kitchen, without going through the disruption of a full-blown kitchen renovation.

While a full kitchen remodel can take weeks, a re-facing job can be done in as little as a day or two. This option provides the opportunity to create a fresh, new space, without the inconvenience of doing the dishes in your bathtub and having to order pizza for the duration of your remodel.

The process of re-facing is relatively simple. Instead of removing the existing boxes that make up your current cabinets, you simply remove the doors and drawer fronts, re-skin the facing pieces of the boxes with a clean new veneer surface, and then replace the doors and drawer fronts with new ones that are available in the latest styles, colors, and finishes. You can also replace the functional hardware of the drawers as well. Start to finish, the process involves less mess, less headache, and less down time for you and your family.

Researching Your New Cabinet Options

If, after carefully considering all of your options, you have decided to re-face your cabinets, you need to begin by developing a timeline. While the actual process of doing the re-facing labor will only take you a day or two, you need to keep in mind that measurements have to be made and the product has to be ordered. If you want to have your project done at a particular time, then you'll need to get the ball rolling well in advance.

Begin by doing some shopping. Most major home improvement retailers sell the materials that you will need for re-facing via a special order program. This means that you can't just go in and pick them up off the shelf. There are too many size and style options to make it practical to keep them in stock. You might also consider contacting a smaller shop that specializes in cabinets. They may be slightly more expensive, but they typically offer more personalized service than home improvement retailers. They may even send someone out to your home to take measurements for you.

Another choice that you will need to make is whether you want to use plywood end panels, or just the same self-adhesive veneer that you have currently, to reface the stiles and rails of your cabinet boxes. Carefully measure all of the stiles and rails on your boxes and label those areas on your list as well. The professional whom you order the materials from should have a chart to help you decide how much veneer you need to order.

Measuring Your Cabinets

After you have done your research and have selected a style and color, you need to get some very accurate measurements. Measuring is one of the most crucial steps in a cabinet re-facing project for one simple reason—if the new doors and drawer fronts are not the right size, then you can't use them. If you figure this out after you start your installation, then your project just got extended while you wait for the new product to arrive, and you've added some expense.

To ensure that you get it right the first time, use a tape measure that measures at least to 1/16 of an inch. Draw a sketch of your cabinet layout and label each one, either with a number or a letter. As you take the measurements, keep a list of each one and write the measurements down precisely. This will allow you to look at your list and sketch and know, for example, that door #1 is exactly 12 3/8" wide. The doors and drawer fronts should all be measured and listed by exact size.

When measuring for moldings, you should measure the total linear footage you have, and then add 10% when ordering. This may seem like a lot of excesses, but keep in mind that you lose a portion of each piece when you cut the miters to install it, and even the best of us make mistakes sometimes. Additionally, if you are choosing to use plywood end panels instead of a self-adhesive veneer, you need to take into account the added width of your outside cabinets. Any crown molding that you place at the top of your wall cabinets will need to be a little longer than the pieces that you have currently.