Refacing kitchen cabinets seems more difficult than it actually is. When you're refacing kitchen cabinets you're essentially changing how they look without replacing them. If you were going to completely replace your kitchen cabinets you would have to take them all down. You would then need to purchase brand new cabinets (including the frames) and then install them. Installing brand new kitchen cabinets instead of refacing your old ones will cost more and take much longer to complete. The information below will go over the items needed when refacing kitchen cabinets and some of the options available.
If your current kitchen cabinets are painted, then the first thing you want to do is strip away this paint so that you get to the bare wood (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). Once you get to the natural material, you can then do a myriad of other things like painting or staining. Be sure to make the cabinet frames match the new faces, drawer fronts, and doors of the cabinets.
The tools you will need are a screwdriver, which will be used to remove the doors, frames, and shelves; a putty knife, to scrape away paint, remove shelving runners and smooth out the putty and other elements; paint stirrers, brushes, and sponges, to paint, stain or finish the cabinets.
Using a veneer is an efficient way to change the appearance of your cabinets and made from natural wood (Fig. 3) available in any species of exotic and domestic hardwoods. Veneers come in thin sheets that can be applied with contact cement, but also as peel and stick sheets (Fig. 4), which is easier to use if you don't want the toxic fumes from the adhesive. They can be anything from cherry and birch to stained oak. The list goes on and on. Put simply, you just peel off the back of the veneer and stick it on top of the kitchen cabinet door. You work from the center out and use a plastic trowel or a block of wood with the edge sanded off to smooth out air bubbles and ensure a perfect adhesion from both surfaces.
Stain or Paint and Polyurethane
If you decide to refinish the surfaces treated with a stripper, then a stain or new paint is going to be an absolute must once the surfaces are perfectly cleaned from any of the old finishes with the appropriate thinner and neutralized. You will want to paint the entire cabinet the color of your choice or stain it a shade that works for you. If you are planning to use the natural wood color as the face of the cabinet, then you will want to protect it with polyurethane.
Trim and Molding
These are small accent pieces that you can glue to the face of the kitchen cabinet. Trim is placed around the edges of the cabinet door to give a beveled look. Molding is used around the cabinet frame to provide a classy look and depth to the cabinet.
Refacing kitchen cabinets is not complete until you replace the hardware. There are hundreds of styles you can choose from as you customize the knobs and hinges. You can have wood, metal, and even sturdy plastics. Your design choices are only limited by your imagination, your budget, and the colors you choose for the cabinets.