Do It Yourself Cabinet Refacing

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If you have a set of old, dingy kitchen cabinets, and the wood's not good enough to consider stripping and refinishing, consider refacing. That is an extensive makeover in which you lay wood veneer over all the external surfaces of the cabinet frame and add new doors and drawer fronts, giving you what amounts to a new-looking set of cabinets. Home improvement stores and and online suppliers carry all manner of new doors, drawer fronts and veneers (as well as new hinges and pulls).

Preparation

  • Remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Remove all hardware from the cabinets, including the hinges. Use the cabinet door and drawer-front measurements and the hinge styles to buy new doors, drawer fronts and hinges.

    Scrub the whole cabinet body down with trisodium phosphate (TSP) to get it very clean. Follow up by hand-sanding (with 120-grit sandpaper) all the surface areas that will be refaced. Don't sand the insides of the cabinets.

Apply the Veneer

  • Start with the ends of the cabinets, coming out from the wall. Stick a piece of peel-and-press veneer a little bigger than the side, so it hangs over all around. Pull down the backing paper after you've secured the top and then press the rest into place. Run the edge of a board up the surface to squeeze out any air bubbles. (You may want to practice this technique on a piece of scrap lumber first, although that wastes veneer. You also could start on the side of the cabinet frame that is often hidden from view so beginner's mistakes aren't noticeable).

    Use a razor knife to cut the veneer flush with the corner. Proceed to veneer the narrow front spans of the cabinets in the same way, doing the horizontal spans first and then the vertical spans.

Hang the New Doors

  • Install your new cabinet doors with new hinges, following the instructions on the hinge packaging. For the drawer fronts, screw them in from inside the drawers, through the same holes that held in the previous drawer pulls. Install new knobs on the doors.

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