11 Steps to Reface Kitchen and Bath Cabinets

From on September 23, 2008 in Kitchen Remodel

kitchen-cabinets.jpgNeed a step-by-step plan for refacing old cabinets? Here’s how INE Cabinets does it. These 11 steps highlight detailed instructions, from inspecting cabinet boxes to selecting materials to installing new hardware. INE Cabinets has been in business since 1979, building a family of over 10,000 happy customers over the last 3 decades. Thanks to INE President Izzie Chlomovitz, who took the time to offer his expertise on the subject:

  1. We begin by removing all of the existing doors and drawer fronts from the cabinet(s) and placing them neatly by the curbside for trash disposal. Additionally, all of the moldings are removed from the exterior of the cabinets. For an additional fee, we can haul away not only the doors, but also the shoe molding (found at the bottom of the toe kick where the cabinet(s) meet the flooring), the scribe molding (where the cabinet(s) meets the wall(s)), and the existing crown molding (at the top of the tall and upper wall cabinet(s)).
  2. The existing cabinet box(es) are inspected to confirm if they require any reinforcement. This ensures that when refaced they will be long lasting. If the cabinet frames (front ¾” inch of all cabinets), or box(es) require any modifications or improvements, it is provided here. Any holes from the preexisting door hinges are filed in with wood putty.
  3. On most existing cabinets, there is up to a ¾” inch space below the underside of the upper wall cabinets. If not addressed, this area can be difficult to keep clean. We “flush out” the underside of the upper wall cabinets with plywood to create a cleaner, more attractive look, while at the same time allowing it to be easier to laminate with the new product(s).
  4. Then, the entire EXTERIOR of all of the cabinets is sanded down to allow the new product(s) to adhere when applied. The sanding is not down to the bare virgin wood, but enough to remove any grease, paint, or food items that might prevent a successful reface.
  5. Next, glue is applied to the cabinet(s) EXTERIOR, and to the refacing product(s). This “double bonding process” creates an extremely strong and long-lasting bonding agent. Not all companies use high quality P.V.C. adhesive glue that will last the test of time; but for a quality project, quality materials must be used. An experienced company should include a minimum of a ten-year warranty with the services provided.The refacing materials used should also be of the highest quality. When refacing cabinets in wood, a “Select Grade” quality rolled wood veneer should be applied to the EXTERIOR of all cabinets. The species of wood used should match the species of wood used to build the new custom build cabinet doors that will be installed later in the refacing process. When refacing cabinets in plastic or “mica” laminate, only high-quality products should be used for the same reason. Less-quality products are cheaper, but cheaper is not usually the best choice when investing into such an important project. Again, the products used should match the products applied to the custom built doors. The core component of the doors should be built of a high quality “furniture core board” with compression no less than 48 pounds per square inch (P.S.I.). A popular core door product is 90-pound p.s.i. novaply. A good rule of thumb is buy cheap, get cheap.
  6. After the new wood veneer or mica laminate is applied to the existing cabinets, a routing tool is used to remove any excess applied material(s), including overhanging veneer and, or, glues. Once the “lips” of the front frame of the cabinet is mitered to a 22 degree beveled edge, it will be more challenging to “chip” when placing dishes into the cabinet. If this step is not provided, the applied materials could “chip” when putting dishes away.
  7. New molding(s) are applied to the cabinets made of materials designed to match the new laminated exteriors. They will be applied to the top of all upper wall cabinets (crown molding), the bottom of the base cabinets (shoe molding), and the sides of the cabinet where they meet the walls (scribe molding).
  8. If the existing drawer boxes are damaged or do not roll smoothly, new custom drawer boxes can be built to fit the existing cabinet openings. Additionally, new “rollout” may be added to create easier accessibility for items like pots and pans to be stored in the base cabinets. These items should have new glides applied to them to allow for smooth action.
  9. New custom doors and drawer fronts are built to fit the size of the existing cabinet openings. If new “European hidden hinges” are selected, they can be “counter sunk” into the new doors and mounted to the interior of the cabinets to create a clean exterior look that is easier to clean due to their concealed nature.
  10. If wood products were selected, custom stains and finishes can now be applied to the entire exterior of the cabinets. If mica laminated products are selected, they require no finish to the cabinets.
  11. The final step is to apply new knobs and, or, handles to the new custom doors and drawer fronts.

Izzie adds, “Advantages to this process are terrific. They can mean a greater return on investment than the money spent. (See Remodeling Magazine’s “Cost vs. Value”) This is an annual report showing the return on investment of a minor kitchen and bath remodel. The countertops do not need to be changed; which mean that the existing sink, faucet, or garbage disposal can remain intact. The time frame to perform cabinet refacing can be as fast as 3 working days, and as long as 5 working days.”

If you live in the city of Paramount, contact CalFinder to receive free estimates from INE. If you live elsewhere in the greater United States, we’re here to help with a list of certified contractors in your area!