How to Renovate Kitchen Cabinets

Focus on cabinet renovation to give your kitchen a quick makeover. If you can’t afford a complete kitchen remodel some little changes or upgrades can make an old item look new or different. Costs vary depending on the scope of your cabinet overhaul.

  • Replacing handles and hinges: One relatively easy and fairly inexpensive way to give your kitchen cabinets a new look is to replace the existing hardware. New knobs or pulls cost anywhere from $2 to $10 apiece, depending on style and finish.

    If your old handles are pulls, they’ll have two legs that make the pull stand away from the drawer face. This means that you’ll have two holes in the drawer face, approximately 3 to 4 inches apart (or on-center — o.c.). If you want to switch from pulls to a drawer knob, you’ll have to deal with the two holes, because a single knob has one hole for the screw and is centered in the drawer face.

    Don’t worry, though. You can still install a knob by putting a faceplate on the drawer front and then installing the knob. Faceplates are usually between 4- to 6-inches long so that they cover the holes created by a drawer pull. They also have a hole in the center for the knob. The reverse is true if you’re going from knobs to pulls. You’ll need to drill two holes for the pull’s legs and cover the old centered hole from the knob. Faceplates for pulls are also available with two holes.

    To replace hinges, you need to know whether your cabinets have mortise hinges or non-mortise hinges and whether your cabinets require fully-concealed or semi-concealed style hinges.

  • Refinishing existing cabinets: If your old cabinets still seem to be solid but you’re just tired of their look, then consider changing the finish by either painting or staining them. This allows you to leave the cabinet bodies in place, so you don’t need to clear out the cabinets and live out of boxes for weeks. However, you will want to make sure that the items in your cabinets are back from the front edges of the cabinet faces when you paint or stain that area.

    Before you paint, be sure that all the surfaces to be painted are smooth and clean. Use a fine grit sandpaper (150-grit or higher) to smooth any rough areas and fill any nicks, digs, or other imperfections with a latex wood filler or wall filler before priming. Follow the directions on the filler label.

  • Refacing your existing cabinets: Refacing and is a perfect choice when the existing cabinet bodies are sound and you just want to change the style of the doors and drawers. You apply veneer (a thin self-adhering layer of wood) over the exposed cabinet fronts (the thin “faces” of the cabinet body itself) to match the doors.

    The companies also sell 1/8-inch thick plywood veneer panels in the same wood species as the new doors and drawer fronts that are installed on the exposed side panels of the end cabinets. You can buy the doors, drawer fronts, veneer, and plywood panels stained or unstained. The price difference is not great, but buying them unstained gives you more color options.

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