How To Use Refacing Cabinet Doors Even As A Beginner
How To Use Refacing Cabinet Doors Even As A Beginner
Is your kitchen looking tired and in need of being updated? Do you not have the spare cash to make wholesale changes, but still desire to do something to make the room look different? If this sounds like your own situation, then there is a cheaper option available and it is one that only requires the most basic of DIY skills.This approach involves you refacing the cabinets and this is a lot easier than you think. That being said, you may now be wondering about how to do cabinet refacing and if this is indeed the case, then the following tips for beginners may prove to be rather useful.
What does refacing mean and what are its advantages?
To begin with we should look at what refacing actually means and what you will find is that it is a term used when you change the top veneer of the cabinet including the doors, trim, sides, and anything else that is visible to people. This veneer can also then be stained in order to get the perfect shade although at times this is not required.
There are a number of advantages of refacing apart from the fact that it does cost approximately half of what it would be if you had decided to completely replace the cabinets. It does of course cause less hassle and the job can be completed in a fraction of the time. It will also not stop you from using the kitchen as it is merely the facings that are removed and you can also work on sections at a time rather than the entire thing being ripped out. The only thing that it cannot do is to fix a bad kitchen layout, so only ever see this as a freshening up option.
Can your cabinets be refaced?
Obviously before you go ahead and start doing the work it makes sense to check that your cabinets can indeed be refaced and basically all you are looking for is that the cabinet boxes are still structurally sound and are not damaged in any way. If there is damage, then clearly that is going to be a weak point and in this instance you would be advised to buy a new cabinet rather than refacing. You should also avoid doing it if the cabinet has been damaged by water and if you are refacing a cheap cabinet box then do note that it is going to take a lot more work to ensure that the new veneer stays on and there is the risk of damaging the door itself when it is being applied.
The options available.
The hardest part is trying to decide on what the finished result should look like, but to help you decide there are several areas to examine. First, look at the room itself for inspiration. If the room is small and does not have a lot of light, then the best advice is to avoid dark colors as they will only make the room feel even smaller and darker.
Instead, in this instance go for a lighter shade as it will reflect what little light there is. The result? A room that feels bigger than it actually is and every kitchen should always feel alive and spacious and how the cabinets look will play a big role in achieving this feeling.
What you will discover when looking at new veneers is that you can choose from a range of colors as well as patterns, grains, and even textures. This does mean that there are countless options out there, so after you have decided on whether it is to be light or dark do then spend time browsing through all of these additional options to finally be able to select the veneer that is perfect for you.
So what about the actual materials themselves? There are three options available as you could go for thin strips of real wood applied to the surface, but do note that this is the most expensive option and you must make sure that the wood has already been treated in order to withstand heat and moisture. The second option is thin plastic laminate and this has the added advantages of being able to offer you a number of designs to choose from, it is cheaper than wood, and it can cope with moisture as long as it is applied correctly. The final option is called rigid thermo foil doors and basically this involves you replacing the door with something new that has a thin coating over fiberboard and this is the cheapest option, and the easiest to apply, out of all three.
The first step to refacing your cabinets.
The first thing that you need to do is to remove all of the doors, drawers, and every piece of hardware possible. This should leave you with just the inner framework of the kitchen cabinets, but one important point to make is that if the facings are very raised or contain quite a lot of detail, then it could be easier for a beginner to buy an identical unfinished door and stain it the same as the rest of the kitchen.
However, if that is not the case, then the first step is to sand all of the faces and this means both the front as well as the sides. One important point to make is that there is no need to completely sand off the original layer as the main idea here is to simply break up the older veneer to then give the new surface something to bond to. This means that the new surface should appear smoother, but there is more work to be done before getting to that stage. Look at using a medium grade sandpaper at the start, then use a damp cloth to remove any dust that has gathered before finishing the job with a smoother sandpaper. Once again, you need to wipe it down as the surface has to be clean before you start to apply the veneer.
After you have sanded it down, do thoroughly check the piece of wood for any damage or marks that need to be treated before proceeding any further. If there are any depressions, then you can use wood putty or filler, but do remember to add it evenly across the damaged area to create a flat surface or the veneer will really show up any marks and of course by the time you have applied it you will find it is too late to change anything. The preparation stage really is very important as this is where you can make sure that everything looks perfect when the job is completed, so never rush it or you will regret it later on.
Have a test run before working on main areas.
Applying the new veneer to the sanded surface should not pose too many problems. However, it is still a good idea to practice before getting too advanced and applying to areas that will be seen by everybody as your mistakes will be on show all of the time. The best piece of advice that can be given is to try it on the back of a facing as this will not only allow you to work on your technique, but also check that you do indeed like the color before it is too late. Use this time to work on applying the glue, understanding how much pressure has to be applied, and also have a shot at staining to see if your technique is up to scratch.
With the veneer you are advised to use wood glue rather than anything else and make sure that you apply a thin layer across the entire surface. This is important as it should help to eliminate the possibility of the new veneer rising up in the middle of the panel. The entire thing should now sit flush against the surface, but to give a professional finish you should pin it into place by using a nail gun. This should hold it firmly in place and the new veneer should now look as if it was always there.
One additional point that has to be made is that there are plastic laminate veneers that have their own adhesive backing and in the case of these items you simply have to press it into place. If you do buy this version, then always start at the top of the wood and press down rather than what a number of people do, which is to work on the four corners and press on the middle at the end.
When pining it in place it is important that you make sure that the heads of the nails, which do have to be very small, are now below the surface of the veneer itself. One final tip with the nailing is to actually start at the top of the surface and slowly work your way down. This will help to eliminate the possibility of bubbles appearing which would of course completely ruin the effect you are looking for. Repeat this process with all of the side panels and then plane every single item to ensure that no extra veneer is sticking above the edges. Do note that you may have to trim some with a knife, so keep the blade sharp in order to get as clean a cut as possible.
The cabinet doors.
After tackling the side panels, you should then turn your attention to the actual cabinet doors. When it comes to applying veneer to the doors you should then concentrate on any rails and horizontal pieces first. By doing so it will ultimately make the job so much easier as you can then accurately cut out the vertical pieces to then make sure that it all fits together nicely. Obviously the measuring and cutting is very important so check and double check your measurements to eliminate the chances of there being any tiny gaps appearing anywhere on the door.
Once all of the veneer has been applied you must turn your attention to the heads of the pins as there will be slight indentations and they need to be filled to give a nice smooth finish. The easiest way to do this is to apply some wood putty, but make sure that it perfectly matches the color of the stain you will be using. After applying, allow it to dry before giving it a light sand just to smooth it out and remove any extra putty. When sanding, consider using a block as this will allow you to apply pressure evenly across the surface and result in a better finish.
When it comes to the staining there are certain things which you need to do to ensure you do not run into any difficulties. However, before staining you do of course need to choose the color and this does go back to the point made earlier about the importance of both the light levels as well as the size of the room. Use other wood as your guide as the stains will match them perfectly and then either use an old paint brush or grab an old rag instead in order to apply it.
The first parts that you need to do are the openings along with all of the inside edges as they need to be given the longest time to dry to prevent the cabinets from sticking. Always apply quite a thick coat, then with the rag wipe away any excess that may be on there to then leave quite an even coat. Pay attention to the tin and see how long it recommends for you to wait before applying the second coat and always do so to get the best possible finish.
After these two areas, you should then turn your attention to the actual doors themselves along with the drawer fronts. Obviously you need to be good at staining here as everybody will see your work, so do use the inner edges as a test to see how good you actually are.
When it comes to the staining you should always build the layers up gradually rather than trying to put on too much too quickly. The problem with applying a thick coat is that it is easy for you to make the wood too dark and when this is the case you are going to have to strip everything back down to the natural wood and begin the whole process again.
Always start with just one distinct area on the door and use just enough stain to wet the rag, but not enough for it to drip. Apply it by rubbing it on in a circular fashion and take your time to make sure that it does actually get into all of those little notches and grooves in the wood.
After applying this first coat, go back over the same area again with just the same amount of stain on the rag and work it into the grain to make sure that every part is covered. Repeat this over the entire door or drawer front and continue to add thin layers until you are happy with the finished color. If you have any intricate design, then do consider using a fine paintbrush, even one that is used by artists will work, and use the same technique of applying thin layers at a time and always, wherever possible, work with the grain rather than against it.
Once you are happy with the finished result and you see that there is an even covering across the entire door you are best to leave it to dry for a minimum of 24 hours before then applying some clear varnish to seal the door and to really bring that color to life. If done correctly, you should now see every detail of the wood and can see how beautiful it actually is.
The finishing touches.
After you have finished applying the new veneer and staining, all you need to do is to change the handles to something that fits in with the new look and the job is done. Applying handles is a simple enough job as they simply screw into place and take just a matter of minutes to do. You may also want to go one stage further and look at buying different hinges that tie in with the style of the cabinet as you can buy versions that are modern looking as well as traditional, but your main cause for concern has to be that they are the correct size.
What you should now see is that it is actually quite an easy job to reface cabinets and as long as you can follow simple instructions there really should be no problems whatsoever. Yes this is a job that requires patience and a steady hand, but once it has been finished your kitchen will look brand new. The fact that it costs a fraction of the price of a complete renovation is merely an added bonus. The tools you need are minimal and the hardest part should always be trying to decide on the veneer and stain itself, so take your time with deciding and you should ultimately be over the moon at the end result.
If you do find yourself in trouble, then there are a number of professionals out there who are able to help you, or alternatively do consult videos online where they can walk you through the steps visually with this perhaps making the entire job that bit easier.