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There are lots of reasons why homeowners don’t want to gut their kitchens when they remodel them: It’s messy; it’s expensive; it takes a long time. But maybe most important of all, some of us do like the layout of our kitchens and the cabinet boxes are still strong, clean and solid. So why rip it all out?

Not long ago, we told you all about buying new cabinets, but here are ideas on refurbishing and remodeling cabinets while leaving most in the same place. There will still be mess and expense, but these methods can be less costly and some work can be done more quickly. You can even do some of jobs yourself.

1 | Have your cabinets refaced

Cabinet refacing is much more economical than complete replacement. Some expert companies say having it done costs slightly more than a third of what it would cost to replace cabinets. 

Choose a contractor carefully. Be sure that the refacing material and veneers are really wood that is properly fastened to your cabinets. It’s best to have new drawers installed with new wooden fronts on them. Some refacing companies just put new fronts on your old drawers. You should get new doors that have top quality new hinges installed as well.

2 | Have your cabinets repainted or re-stained

The cost of repainting or re-staining can vary depending on the size of your kitchen, but generally it’s about a quarter to a third of the cost that replacement would be. There are local companies that will strip and sand existing cabinet fronts down to bare wood before refinishing them. Drawers and doors are typically taken to a shop to be stripped where they can do any color or stain for cabinets and can add new molding to the cabinets as well.

3 | Take out some cabinets out or rebuild some cabinets

Some companies doing painting or refacing will also change the shape of cabinets, rebuild them or remove some cabinets. For example, companies will rebuild a small island to make it larger. Some will build a new island in the middle of a very large kitchen. Or some will take down a partial wall of cabinets that a homeowner wants removed to open up a living area and make it more spacious.

4 | Install new countertops, sinks, faucets and appliances

If you’re planning to do any of these jobs, take them on at the same time that the work is being done on cabinets. After all, changing countertops later could wreck the newly painted or refaced cabinets. If you are changing appliances, make sure the new equipment is the right size for the spaces in-between and around the cabinets or have the cabinets modified before the appliances arrive. You may need plumbing or electrical contractors involved in these jobs. You may have to change gas and electric lines to complete the work. In cases like that, permits are also required from the city or county.

Can you repaint or restain your cabinets yourself?

Don Brees, a renovation expert with Rosie on the House, says that doing the repainting or re-staining yourself on kitchen cabinets is labor intensive and can take as much as a month of work. If you’ve had a lot of experience in painting or staining, it will go more quickly. It will also go more quickly in a newer home that doesn’t have thick layers of paint to strip off cabinets.

Here’s a quick rundown on repainting:

  • First remove all the hardware and doors and drawers. Put numbers on each knob, hinge, door and drawer that will tell you where to put them back later on.
  • You’ll need to use fine sandpaper to sand down the surface of the old cabinets to get the new paint to bond properly. You don’t have to remove all the old paint. But you need to sand whether doors were painted or not.
  • After sanding, wipe the surfaces off carefully and spray on good quality latex paint. Temper the paint with water or latex extender.
  • You’ll probably want to rent a sprayer to make things go more quickly. If you work with a roller, you want it to be short-napped; a brush needs fine bristles.
  • Give the paint an hour to dry. Then put on a second coat.
  • After that put on a couple of coats of clear coat to protect the painted surface and help the paint last longer.

Re-staining can be more complicated, particularly if you want to go lighter than the stain that’s already on the cabinets. Going darker is easier.


 Photo Credits:

  • Rosie on the House

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