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DIY Kitchen Cabinet Refacing: A Comprehensive Guide

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Calling all DIY enthusiasts! Are your kitchen cabinets looking a little tired and dated? Do you dream of a kitchen makeover but cringe at the thought of hefty contractor fees and weeks of disruption? Well, DIY kitchen cabinet refacing might be the perfect solution!

While the idea of transforming your kitchen yourself is certainly appealing, let's take a moment to explore the reality of this project before you dive headfirst into a sawdust whirlwind. Whether you ultimately choose the DIY route or opt for professional cabinet refacing services, understanding the process is key to achieving your dream kitchen.

There's something incredibly satisfying about taking something old and making it new again, especially when you can save a significant chunk of change in the process. But when it comes to kitchen cabinet refacing, it's important to approach the task with a realistic perspective. It's not just about slapping on some new doors and drawer fronts — there's a lot more to it than meets the eye.

So, is DIY kitchen cabinet refacing right for you? Join our team at Kitchen Cabinet Guys as we break down the process and explore the challenges. This will help you determine if you're ready to take on this ambitious project.

Which Tools Do You Need for Refacing Cabinets?


Before you start your DIY cabinet refacing project, you'll need to assemble your arsenal of tools and materials. Here's a basic list to get you started:

  • Measuring tape: Precision is key in cabinet refacing, so a reliable measuring tape will be used often.
  • Level: Ensuring your cabinets are perfectly level is crucial for a professional-looking finish.
  • Screwdriver: You'll be removing and attaching a lot of hardware, so a trusty screwdriver is essential.
  • Drill: A drill with various bits will come in handy for tasks like creating pilot holes and attaching new hardware.
  • Jigsaw: For trimming veneer strips and making precise cuts, a jigsaw is your go-to tool.
  • Veneer applicator tool: This handy tool helps you apply veneer strips smoothly and evenly.
  • Construction adhesive: This will be your bonding agent for attaching veneer strips and end panels.
  • Matching stain pen: For touching up any unstained edges or imperfections, a stain pen is incredibly helpful.
  • Safety glasses and gloves: Protect your eyes and hands from dust and debris during the refacing process.

Choosing the Right Refacing Materials for Your DIY Project

Now comes the fun part — selecting your refacing materials! This is where you get to tap into your creative side and choose the style that will transform your kitchen.

  • Cabinet doors and drawer fronts: The stars of the show! You can opt for new cabinet doors in a variety of styles, from the classic shaker style to sleek modern designs. Many door suppliers offer unfinished doors that you can paint or stain to match your ideal aesthetic.
  • Veneer strips: These thin strips of wood or laminate are used to cover the face frames of your existing cabinets to give them a fresh new look.
  • End panels: These panels are used to cover the exposed sides of your cabinets, creating a seamless and finished appearance.
  • Drawer boxes: If your existing drawer boxes are in good shape, you may be able to reuse them. However, if they’re showing signs of wear and tear, you might want to consider replacing them with new drawer boxes.
  • Drawer hardware: New drawer pulls and knobs can add the perfect finishing touch to your refaced cabinets.

Choosing the right materials can give your kitchen the appearance of having new cabinets without the need for a full replacement, offering a cost-effective way to achieve a major transformation.

The Refacing Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now that you've gathered your tools and materials, it's time to dive into the refacing process. Here's a general overview of the steps involved:

#1. Remove All the Doors and Drawer Fronts

The first order of business is removing your existing cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Carefully remove them, taking note of their location and any hardware attached. Labeling each cabinet door and drawer can be a lifesaver later when it’s time to reattach them to their rightful places. Be gentle with those old doors — you might need them for reference when ordering your new cabinet doors.

#2. Clean and Prep the Cabinet Boxes

Now that your cabinet boxes are exposed, it’s time to give them some TLC. Thoroughly clean them inside and out, removing any grease, grime, or remnants of the past. Before proceeding, inspect the cabinet frame for any damage or imperfections that need to be addressed to ensure a solid foundation for the refacing process. Next, inspect the surfaces for any imperfections. Sand down any rough patches or protruding bumps to create a smooth and even canvas for your refacing materials.

#3. Measure and Cut the Veneer Strips

Precision is paramount in the world of DIY kitchen cabinet refacing. Grab your measuring tape and measure the face frame stiles and rails of your cabinets — those vertical and horizontal pieces that form the framework of your cabinet doors.

Then, with the utmost care, cut your veneer strips to the exact width. Double-check, triple-check, and even quadruple-check your measurements before making any cuts.

Remember, accuracy is key to achieving a professional-looking finish.

#4. Apply the Veneer Strips

With your veneer strips cut to perfection, it's time to bring out the construction adhesive and the veneer applicator tool. Carefully align each strip with the corresponding face frame rail to ensure a perfect match.

Then, using the applicator tool, gently press the veneer onto the surface, working your way from one end to the other to eliminate any air bubbles or wrinkles. Think of it as applying a giant sticker.

#5. Attach the End Panels

Exposed cabinet sides? No problem! End panels can help. Measure the exposed sides of your cabinets and cut the end panels to fit snugly. Apply construction adhesive to the back of each panel and carefully attach them to make sure they are flush with the cabinet frames and create a seamless, polished look.

#6. Prep and Install the New Doors and Drawer Fronts

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for — the grand reveal of your new cabinet doors and drawer fronts! If you opted for unfinished doors, now is the time to be creative and paint or stain them to match your desired aesthetic. Two coats of paint or stain will ensure a rich, even finish that complements your kitchen’s style.

Once your doors and drawer fronts are ready for their debut, it’s time to install them using the existing hinge plates or new cup hinges. If you’re replacing old, worn-out hinges, cup hinges are a fantastic option, offering both style and functionality. Before attaching the drawer fronts, measure the distance from the drawer box to the face frame drawer rail to ensure they are properly aligned. Make sure your doors and drawer fronts are carefully aligned before securing them with screws. A level will be your best friend here, ensuring everything is perfectly straight and true

Prep and Install the New Doors and Drawer Fronts

#7. Install New Drawer Hardware

The final touch to your masterpiece? Replacing your old drawer pulls and knobs with new hardware that complements your new cabinet style. Whether you choose sleek and modern or classic and ornate, new hardware can elevate the look of your refaced cabinets and add a touch of personality to your kitchen. When installing your new hardware, be sure to use a drill to create pilot holes before securing the pulls and knobs with screws. This will prevent the wood from splitting and ensure a secure and lasting attachment.

Challenges and Considerations of the DIY Cabinet Refacing Process

Reface kitchen cabinets sounds straightforward, right? But be sure to acknowledge the potential challenges and common cabinet refacing problems you might encounter.

#1. Measuring and Cutting

Precision is crucial in cabinet refacing. Even a small miscalculation can lead to gaps, overlaps, or uneven surfaces. Be prepared to double-check all your measurements and take your time with cutting to avoid costly mistakes.

#2. Veneer Application

Applying veneer strips smoothly and evenly requires patience and a steady hand. Air bubbles, wrinkles, or misalignments can ruin the look of your refaced cabinets.

#3. Dealing with Imperfections

Your existing cabinets may have imperfections, such as dings, dents, or uneven surfaces, that need to be addressed before applying veneer strips or end panels. This may require additional sanding, filling, or repairs.

Dealing with Imperfections

#4. Matching Existing Finishes

If you're only refacing your cabinet doors and drawer fronts, you'll need to ensure they match the existing finish of your cabinet boxes. This can be tricky, especially if your cabinets are older or have a custom finish. A matching stain pen can be helpful for touching up any unstained edges.

#5. Time Commitment

DIY kitchen cabinet refacing is not a weekend project. Depending on the size of your kitchen and your skill level, it can take several days or even weeks to complete. Be prepared to invest a significant amount of time and effort.

DIY vs. Professional Cabinet Refacing: Weighing Your Options

While DIY refacing kitchen cabinets can save you money, it's important to consider the potential challenges and the value of your time. If you're not confident in your DIY skills or if you're short on time, hiring a professional cabinet refacing company may be a better option.

Professional refacing companies like Kitchen Cabinet Guys have the experience, expertise, and specialized tools to ensure a flawless and efficient refacing project. We offer the special refacing cabinets process, and we use 3D laminate or rigid thermofoil materials such as exclusively OMNOVA materials, known for their exceptional quality.

Moreover, our experts can help you with design choices, material selection, and installation, taking the stress and guesswork out of the process.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding between DIY and professional cabinet refacing:

  • Your skill level and experience: Are you comfortable using tools like a jigsaw and a drill? Do you have experience with woodworking or home improvement projects?
  • Time commitment: How much time are you willing to invest in this project? Do you have the flexibility to work on it over several days or weeks?
  • Budget: How much are you willing to spend on materials and tools? Can you afford to hire a professional if needed?
  • Desired outcome: Do you want a flawless, professional-looking finish, or are you willing to accept some imperfections?

Keep in mind that achieving the best finish with these materials often requires using a vacuum press, as opposed to simply using glue and a hairdryer!

The Final Verdict: Is DIY Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to tackle DIY kitchen cabinet refacing is a personal one. If you're up for the challenge, have the necessary skills and tools, and are willing to invest the time and effort, then go for it! The satisfaction of transforming your kitchen with your own hands is truly rewarding.

However, if you're hesitant about your DIY abilities or if you simply don't have the time, consider seeking professional help. A professional cabinet refacing company can ensure a high-quality, stress-free experience, allowing you to enjoy your beautiful new kitchen without the hassle.

Ready to transform your kitchen but feeling a bit overwhelmed by the DIY process? That's where Kitchen Cabinet Guys come in! We offer expert cabinet refacing services that will take your kitchen from drab to fab without the stress and hassle of DIY. Our Chicago-based company offers easy, efficient, and professional solutions to transform your spaces. Contact us today for a free consultation and let's discuss your vision for your dream kitchen!


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