Monday, April 8, 2013

DIY vs. Pro Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers

by Tiffany Carboni

Cabinets are the heart and soul of the kitchen. Because of their importance and scale, cabinets that are worn or outdated are difficult to overlook. Sure, you could start over by demolishing your existing cabinets and replacing them with all new ones, but the options are usually mega-expensive. You can get a refreshed look and more functionality out of your existing kitchen cabinets by updating the doors and drawer fronts, but should you go the cheap-and-easy DIY route? We examine the best of both angles here.

THE "SAVE" FIX: Do It Yourself

Updating cabinets with a coat of paint and new hardware
can change the whole look of your kitchen.
The look: The same bones of the original cabinetry but with a fresh coat of paint, stain and/or new hardware.

When it makes sense: Your cabinets are in working condition but need cosmetic assistance. Maybe you inherited a color that doesn’t match your tastes, or perhaps the cabinetry’s age is showing scratches or a dulled sheen. As long as the cabinet doors and drawers are in decent shape, you can make a weekend project out of rehabbing them.

What’s involved: A commitment to preparation and follow-through, and savvy shopping to find the right color, finish and accessories. Here are some ideas that will require sweat equity but promise not to break the bank.

Paint: Before you slap on your favorite color, heed the advice of professional painters and take the time to properly prepare your surfaces. First, remove all the doors and drawers from their frames, and remove all hardware and hinges. Set up a proper staging area for painting and drying. Use a degreaser or TSP substitute (find it at your local hardware or home-improvement store) to clean off surfaces. This process may require a few passes, depending on the level of accumulated grease and grime. To prepare the surfaces, you’ll need 100-grit sandpaper, paintable wood filler, and high-quality primer and paint.

Restain: You'll need sandpaper (consult your paint store professional regarding the grit needed for the type of wood you’re working with), stainable wood filler, brushes, stain and topcoat.  Follow the same preparations as above, but with a greater eye toward removing the existing topcoat and stain, as this may show through. Apply stain to the cabinets evenly, and allow it to soak in before wiping off excess with a lint-free rag. Repeat as necessary. After the stain has dried, sand it lightly and apply the clear topcoat.

Expose your cupboards: If your cabinet doors are in bad shape, but you don’t have the budget to replace them, consider removing them. Prime and paint the frames and interior boxes with a consistent color or mix it up, with different hues. You can even line each “cubby” with wallpaper if desired.

Change hardware: Whether or not you paint the cabinets, replacing hardware will go a long way in altering their aesthetic. Before buying, make sure to measure your current hardware (particularly drawer pulls) so you can ensure the new hardware will fit in the existing holes.

Things to consider: While you’ve got your tools out, take this opportunity to tackle other cabinetry problems. Lubricate sticking drawers, adjust hinges on misaligned doors, add peel-and-stick bumpers to banging doors, and replace drawer guides as needed. The cost of these additional materials is minimal.

THE "SPLURGE" FIX: Hire a Pro to Reface Doors & Drawers

Hiring a pro to reface cabinets will give you the feeling of a
brand-new kitchen without the time or expense of full remodel.
The look: An almost brand-new kitchen.

When it makes sense: If your cabinet boxes are in operable condition, but the doors and drawers are either in disrepair or stuck in a time warp that no amount of paint or decorative hardware can mask, you can modernize the entire kitchen by leaving the boxes intact and replacing only the doors and drawer fronts. You might also want to upgrade your cabinets' technology. Keep in mind that drawer guides and door hinges only have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. This, plus the fact that hardware has come a long way (soft-close technology!) in recent years, changing these hidden gadgets will greatly improve cabinetry usage.

What’s involved:  “We start with an in-home consultation to understand what we’re working with,” says cabinetmaker Jeb Boynton of Midland Cabinet Company. “Then we have the customer come to the shop to see all the possible door and drawer styles that might match the existing materials.” Once the new style is chosen, there are plenty of options available to enhance existing cabinetry. Boynton’s suggestions include adding crown molding, installing a light bridge over the sink, installing rollout trays in base cabinets or changing out a few choice doors with a contrasting style like designer or leaded glass.

Things to consider: Refacing and installing new features doesn’t come cheap, but it does add tremendous value to the home and extends the life of your kitchen. The cost depends on the materials you use, the extent of the makeover, the style of cabinetry and the finish.  Frameless cabinetry with full overlay doors is easier to work with and thus cheaper than flush inset cabinetry. Additionally, painted finishes cost nearly double what stained finishes do because of the additional steps required.
Not sure you want to tackle your kitchen or let a Pro handle it?  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330.239.3630 to see if we can help.

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