Unfinished Cabinet Doors
Unfinished Cabinet Doors: What Are They?
When you become tired of the way your kitchen looks there is no need for you to spend a fortune ripping everything out and starting again along with the upheaval that it causes. Instead, you are able to completely change how it often looks simply by changing the doors of the different cabinets in the room. There are a number of options available and one option you should consider is unfinished cabinet doors. The question now, however, is what are the options that are available amongst these unfinished cabinet doors and how do you decide which ones are best for your kitchen?
What are unfinished cabinet doors?
First, a brief explanation as to what is actually meant by the term ‘unfinished cabinet doors’ is in order. Basically, this is when you get cabinet doors with either no paint or staining applied, which means you are left with nothing else other than the bare wood. This does initially sound rather boring, but in actual fact it does give you plenty of scope to finish it off as you like or indeed you may also prefer to stick with the stripped down version if you love that look.
It is important to remember that in order for these doors to work you do also need to make sure that the other facings also match. Failure to do this will only lead to your kitchen looking rather disjointed and indeed the entire room will feel like a disappointment as well as it having an unprofessional look to it.
What options are there in terms of materials?
When it comes to choosing the actual doors you do have a range of woods available covering different shades that will be ideal for any kitchen or finished look that you are hoping to achieve. Obviously the likes of oak and mahogany are always popular, but of course you do not have that same quality finish as you normally would. Another popular material is of course pine and this does look better when it is unfinished as it gives that rustic look that would be spoiled if you did anything to the wood. In actual fact, with pine you would only need to give it a light top coating of a clear varnish just to make sure that everything is resistant to moisture and your door would be ready to hang.
The best thing that you should do is to think carefully about the kitchen itself and what you hope to achieve by hanging new doors. Is it quite small? Does it have limited natural light coming in the window? If so, then it makes sense to use a lighter wood or to simply varnish the bare door without any staining as dark cabinets will only serve to make the room even smaller than it already is. By using light wood for your cabinets you can fool the eye into thinking that there is more space to move around in and of course if the rest of your décor ties in, then lighter cabinets can look fantastic. Taking your time to choose the correct material is essential, so browse through a number of options and never settle on the first thing you see.
Advantages of using unfinished cabinet doors.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of using unfinished cabinet doors is that they are a lot cheaper to buy, so as long as you are happy with the plain look, or can do the staining yourself, it does mean that you can change how your kitchen looks for very little money. It is possible to pick up doors for just a few dollars a piece although this does depend not only on the size, but the type of wood that it is made from. Obviously the likes of pine is going to be at the cheaper end while mahogany is always one of the more expensive doors to buy, so do think about the budget that you have available before settling on the correct wood for your kitchen.
Other advantages can also be that by simply replacing the doors you can transform your kitchen in minutes, it will also cause you fewer problems compared to taking out the entire kitchen and rebuilding everything, and finally you can do the actual hanging of the doors and replacement of the facings in just a single day although the staining will take you a bit longer. As long as the actual shell of the kitchen cabinets is still strong and undamaged it does mean that there is no need for you to replace the entire kitchen as fitting these new doors is by far and away the better option.
Measuring up for your new doors.
When choosing your new doors it is important that you measure them up correctly and there are a couple of key points that you need to keep in mind while doing so. First, you need to measure the size of the actual opening of the cabinet and this means from the top to the bottom as well as from side to side. After this, measure from the outer edges of the cabinet itself where the hinges will go and make sure that there is at least half an inch of space available to ensure that the door will be able to open. This clearance space is important or the edge of the door will stick against the cabinet or whatever lies at the side and will not fully open. What you then need to do is to add another inch to both the height and width in order to create an overlap that will make the entire job look that bit tidier and you will not have any spaces at any point. Finally, you should double check the measurements as even being a fraction of an inch out can result in the finished result looking rather untidy.
After the doors, you need to also measure side panels, which means their length and breadth, as well as kick boards at the bottom, and any intricate bead work that just adds to the look of the kitchen. All of these parts need to match in order to pull the kitchen together, so take notes of what you need and build a shopping list to make sure that nothing is missed out. You may also wish to do a simple sketch of the layout of your kitchen and mark where each piece is going and simply cross them off as you buy each piece.
Measuring is also important not just to make sure that you get the correct size of doors, but also because it will make it easier to work out your budget. After noting down the size of doors and facings that you need, which means drawer fronts, side panels, and kick boards if you have them, you can then check different suppliers to see what they are charging and do remember that buying in bulk should give you a better price. Do just confirm that you are actually buying unfinished cabinet doors and seek their help to get the other parts of wood so you know that everything really will look the same when the job is completed.
How to stain them.
If you have bought these doors in order to save money, but still want to have some color to them, then you do have several options in regards to staining. With certain woods, such as the pine mentioned earlier, a simple clear varnish will work exceptionally well as it will bring to life all of the knots and lines in the wood and make it glisten rather than dull. You can of course also purchase a colored stain that will match the material, but it is then up to you as to how dark you go with the color and for this you must look at your kitchen to work out the colors that would actually work. When doing this, do remember the golden rule that a dark color in a small and cramped kitchen will not work well as it can make the room feel more claustrophobic.
After you have selected the stain, use either a paintbrush or even an old cloth in order to apply it. The first thing you need to do is to give the doors a light sanding, with a very fine sandpaper, in order to lightly break up the surface without damaging it. By doing this, it does actually make the new staining bond better with the door and it will give a more polished look once the job has been completed.
Once you have sanded them, give the door a wipe in order to remove any dust that may have accumulated on the surface before going ahead and applying your first coat. If you are using the rag, then dip it into the stain and ring it out until there is not enough liquid on it to drip off. Avoiding drips and runs when applying it is essential for a smooth finish, and then add the stain by using a circular motion and just focus on one area at a time. You should then go back over the area once more with more stain on the cloth and do remember to work with the grain rather than against it as this will ensure that you get a good, even coverage at all times and you should not have blotches of color spread across your door.
You should always avoid trying to put on a thick coat as it is easier, and indeed looks better, when there are several thin layers added one on top of the other. The problem with adding a thick layer is that if you do not like how dark it has gone you are going to find it difficult to rectify the issue. However, by doing the job slowly and by using thin layers you will then find that you can gradually darken the color and it is easier to stop when you feel that you love the shade you have achieved.
If the door has some raised edges and it is difficult for the cloth to get into those corners, then do use a thin paintbrush to ensure that no part is left untouched. Do use the same instructions with regard to not having enough stain on it to drip off and using thin layers only. You are always better to do these more intricate areas last as it is easier to blend in the color if you make it too dark whereas if you do it the other way around you can end up with a door that has to be stripped down and you to start all over again thanks to the main door being the wrong color.
After the stain has been applied, and you are happy with the way it looks, you are advised to leave it to dry until the following day before applying at least two coats of a light varnish cover as this will help the wood to resist the moisture that builds up in the kitchen and it will help to stop the wood from warping over time.
How to change the doors.
Changing the doors really is an easy job when you consider that all you need to do is detach the old doors, fit the hinges onto the replacement doors and simply screw into place. Do just remember that all of the facings have to also be replaced in the same style.
The important part is to ensure that the hinges are indeed the correct size for the doors, but you should have already worked this out when you measured them earlier on. If you are unsure as to which hinges to use, then one tip is to simply remove one door, take the hinge off, and take it with you to the hardware store when going to buy new ones. This should work quite well if the dimensions of the doors are going to be the same as they should hang in the same manner at all times. Indeed, there is also no reason why you cannot go ahead and use the same hinges on these new unfinished cabinet doors as it is only the wood that has changed.
When hanging them, your main concern has to be making sure that they are level and do not just trust your eye with this. Instead, use a level and gradually tighten the top hinge first before working on the bottom hinge to not only tighten it, but to bring the door into an upright position. Just ensure that there is a slight gap between the doors to prevent them from rubbing against one another, but again this is something that you should have double checked when measuring up for the new doors.
How to finish them off.
After you have finished hanging them, and applying the stain to fit the look you are after, all that is then left to do is to choose handles to finish them off. The type of handle that you choose will depend on whether or not you are leaving them bare or if you have indeed stained them. If left bare, look at using a more rustic handle as it will tie in perfectly with it, whereas if you stain the doors, then the handle has to reflect the color. What this means is that generally speaking a silver or light handle will stand out from a dark color while the reverse is also true when the door is light in color and the handle is dark. One tip is to simply go to the same company you bought the doors from and actually purchase the handles at the same time. This way, you can compare them to the color you are going to stain the doors and there is less chance of you being unhappy with the end result.
The conclusion that has to be reached is that unfinished cabinet doors can be an inexpensive way to completely change the way that your kitchen looks and you can freshmen it up in next to no time. Changing the actual doors can be done by basically anybody and the entire job can be completed in a matter of hours. The hardest part is in making sure that the staining looks professional, but as long as you follow the tips mentioned above, then in all honesty you will end up with a kitchen you can be proud of and one that looks completely different to how it was before.
All you need to do is to take your time with staining them, if required of course, and then hang them the correct way with those lovely new handles on the doors and the job is done. You do not have to be a DIY expert to do this, but if you do find yourself getting into difficulty, then there is help available from a number of sources and of course you could also ask for help from someone you know who is good at all of this kind of work.