my Old Workshop

How to paint and update kitchen cabinets

Your kitchen cabinets just don’t work. Well rip ’em out and start over.

Wait a minute. Is it just the style that’s bothering you? If you like your current layout and the carcasses (the boxes) are in good shape, you may be able to reface your cabinets for a fraction of the time and cost of installing new ones. (Sometimes a coat of paint and new hardware are all it takes.) Measure your carcasses and check the cabinet faces and/or doors available. If you’re choosing painted doors, you may be able to paint the old face frames to match. The older the better; if your cabinets were made decades ago, there’s a good chance they’re solid wood, something you won’t usually find today.

And you can modify old cabinets by adding modern touches like lazy susans, concealed hinges, roll-out doors, pull-out pantries and bins.

Even if you want to totally revamp your kitchen layout, consider moving and refacing existing cabinets where possible. Or shop for some new ones.

Consider style, design, ease of installation and cost. Style is the overall look: painted, finished wood, windowed doors, sleek European-style, etc. Design affects your kitchen convenience: adjustable shelves, self-closing hinges, width, depth and cleanability. European-style, and some North American cabinets come with suspension and support hardware that makes installation easier. For example, metal hanging rails with adjustable leveling hooks support upper cabinets, and adjustable legs let you level floor cabinets.

But standard cabinets aren’t overly difficult. Basically, you mark stud locations and mark a level line at the top of your base cabinets and the bottom of your upper cabinets. Then, starting in a corner, you level and plumb each cabinet and screw each into a stud or studs, and into the adjoining cabinets. Sound easy? We’ll have some tips next time.