The process of changing cabinet doors in the kitchen should be done by a professional. Installing cupboard doors is not as easy as it may appear. There are many obstacles that the accomplished cabinet installer knows how to overcome with ease. They will also have the proper tools for the job to be completed correctly.
You as a homeowner can attempt to take on the project, but I would only recommend you doing so if you have a good handle on basic carpentry skills and a diversified set of tools.
I’ve been a professional cabinet maker for thirty years. You will find helpful tips in this article that can save you time, money and headaches if you decide to change your own cupboard doors.
There are a few steps involved:
- Choosing a new style flat or raised panel door
- Measuring and ordering
- Selecting new hinges, handles and knobs
- Removing the old cupboard doors
- Repairing areas of the cabinet faces
- Installing the new face panels
- Adjusting the kitchen cabinet doors perfectly
- Removing the drawer faces and installing new ones
Here’s a list of tools needed:
- Electric or Cordless Drill
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Number two Phillips Bit and Magnetic Holder
- One Thirty Second Inch (1/32”) Drill Bit
- Three Sixteenths Inch (3/16”) Drill Bit
Selecting a Design and Color
I always recommend that a local wood, Formica, or Thermofoil kitchen cabinet door supplier or manufacturer be used for this type of advanced project. The reason being, you will have more control over the desired outcome than if you ordered them from a far away place. It may cost a bit more, but if you want to be changing your old kitchen cabinet doors for quality new ones, this is how to do it. You can work directly with the manufacture/supplier and finish company to get the wood patterns and color tones you desire.
If you order from an out of town company there will be too many complications involved in working with wood stain finish samples. It is much easier to have a local wood door manufacture and finish man work together in making samples for you to approve. Besides, if there’s a mistake an out of town supplier may take weeks to replace the wrong part. A local company can usually have them in a few days. Especially if you are working with a plastic laminate kitchen cabinet door.
When changing the cabinet doors this is a good time to consider installing decorative accents and fancy gadgets. Looking at various glass kitchen cabinet doors ideas and designs might be a worthwhile adventure. Things like spice racks and pull-out trash cans make nice additions to any kitchen renovation as well.
The easiest way to replace your existing cabinet doors is to just measure the existing ones and use the same style hinges when you install the new wood doors. Things get complicated when you try to change the door margins and appearance of the existing kitchen’s design.
If you are replacing the hinges with a different style than the existing ones, you will need to know what the overlay is of the new hinge.
How does an overlay work?
Measure the inside opening of the cabinet. If it is ten inches and your hinge has a half inch overlay, make the door eleven inches. This will allow the door to “overlay” one half of an inch on either side of the cabinet opening.
That formula was only for illustration purposes. You will need to work out the design layout of your doors mathematically in relation to your new hinges. In this equation you will be allowing for door margins and overlay areas.
Check, double check and triple review what you have calculated prior to ordering the new kitchen cabinet doors. One mistake can cost a couple hundred dollars if you are not careful.
When measuring, the same method should apply to all styles including wood Kitchen cabinet doors. You should always be working with the overall finished size dimension of the doors. It’s a good idea to have a second person go over what you have calculated on your door order list as well.
Choosing New Hinges, Handles and Knobs
Changing the wood cabinet doors in your kitchen will obviously be much easier if you buy the identical hinge to your existing ones. Regardless what style hinge you select, you may need to have special groves or holes drilled in the doors to accept the hinge. If you don’t have the proper setup to get the hinges installed correctly, visit a local cabinet manufacturers and perhaps they can help drill or groove the cupboard doors for you. If you own a drill press or table saw you may consider doing this yourself.
When selecting the pulls, there’s really not any guidelines to go by other than using common sense as the new handles or knobs relate to your cupboard door styles.
Prior to installing the handles, you can purchase a guide (or, “template”) to help you get the holes in the proper position every time you drill a cabinet door for the new knob or handle.
Most hinges, handles and knobs styles will work on all types of cupboard doors.
Removing the Old Doors
You should always use protective drop cloths for the counter tops and floors when changing the doors out. One drop of a screwdriver, drill or hammer could do some serious damage that could get expensive to repair.
It’s best to have two people during the removal of the old and installation of the new wood, laminate or Thermofoil cabinet doors. While one person holds the door the other person uses the electric drill with the number two Phillips drill bit to remove the installation screws.
Once all of the doors are off, fill any screw holes with putty, then stain and finish accordingly.
New Kitchen Cabinet Door Installation
Mount the new hinges on the doors and fasten the new doors to the cupboards. Make the necessary adjustments in order to have straight and uniform door gaps and margins. Adjusting cabinet doors is a task that should be done with the word patience in mind.
Please review this article on installing cabinet drawer faces. This is going to be a very challenging task.
As previously mentioned there are several obstacles that you will encounter when installing your new kitchen cabinet doors.
Here are a few things that may hinder your project once you start changing the parts:
- Out of square cabinets or doors
- Hinge holes not aligning correctly
- Drilling or cutting holes or grooves for the hinges
- Not having the proper length drawer pull installation screws
- Adjusting the cabinet doors
- Different overlay hinges than the existing
- Adjusting the drawer faces
Changing your kitchen cabinet doors yourself will be challenging if you have no cabinet making or installation experience. Remember to suit up with patience and to triple check all of your design ideas and dimensions before ordering new cupboard doors. If you do these two things your kitchen cabinet door installation experience will go a lot smoother and be very rewarding when you are finished.