How To Update Kitchen Cabinets Without Replacing Them

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Kitchen cabinets can easily be updated with new doors, a few inexpensive items and some creativity. Replacing kitchen cabinets that are still in good shape physically is costly and unnecessary. Read on for tips for updating kitchen cabinets to better suit your style.

Things You'll Need

  • Kitchen cabinet doors
  • Hardware
  • Gel Stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Primer and paint
  • Foam brushes
  • Clean rags
  • Paint brushes
  • Screw driver
  • Hand held orbital sander
  • 80-grit sandpaper

Refacing Your Cabinets

  • Reface your kitchen cabinets. Either purchase doors that match your current finish but have an updated style, or choose unfinished doors and stain or paint the doors and frame a new color (see next section).

  • Once you choose a new door style, order them or buy them directly from your local kitchen or home improvement store. If you matched your current finish, simply remove your current doors and attach your new doors.

  • Buy updated hardware for your new doors. Measure the first knob's location and then measure and mark the exact spot on the rest of your doors for a consistent, professional look.

Refinishing and Refacing New Cabinet Doors

  • If you decide to change the color scheme of your cabinets, buy unfinished cabinet doors in your desired style.

  • Choose a stain (gel stains work really well, provide excellent color and coverage, and are durable) or paint color.

  • Remove old cabinet doors and hardware. Use 80 grit sandpaper and your orbital sander and start removing the finish from the frame. Sand until smooth and you have a matte finish (no shiny polyurethane remaining).

  • Wipe frame with clean cloth. If painting, apply your primer to the frame and cabinet doors. If staining, use a foam brush and start wiping on stain to frame, let sit, then wipe with the grain using a clean rag. Repeat on cabinet doors, preferably outside or in a well-ventilated area.

  • If painting, let the primer dry, then apply at least two coats of semi-gloss or gloss paint. Let dry overnight. If staining, let stain dry overnight, then apply two coats of polyurethane, letting dry overnight between coats.

  • Once your paint or stain is dry, attach new updated hardware to complete the transformation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Go to a kitchen store to view available cabinet door styles. Think about the overall style of your home and choose a cabinet door style that matches your look. An ultra contemporary door style might not complement an otherwise vintage kitchen, for example. Test your stain or paint color in an inconspicuous place to make sure the color works in your kitchen.

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