If you're contemplating a kitchen makeover, but don't want to break the bank on brand new cabinets, you'll want to explore your options for kitchen cabinet refacing. In many cases, refacing your kitchen cabinets can give them a "like new" appearance, or even create a whole new style aesthetic for your kitchen.
Your first step in refacing the cabinets is to attach clean plywood to the exposed cabinet sides. After cleaning and sanding the sides, apply the correctly sized plywood piece with carpenter's glue. Secure the plywood with finish nails, sink the nail heads, then fill the holes with wood filler.
Next, apply the veneer you've chosen. The key here is to measure properly, and then go slowly when applying. First, measure the stiles (vertical frame) and rails (horizontal frame). Then use a straightedge and a utility knife to cut the veneer into strips that are ½ inch wider and 2 inches longer than each stile and rail. Cut the veneer so the wood grain always runs lengthwise. Hold the veneer strip up to a stile and align it so it overlaps all edges, then peel away the self stick backing and press the veneer into place, slowly working down the stile. Smooth the veneer with a wood block or other flat, hard object to work out any air bubbles.
Next, use your utility knife to trim the excess veneer from the sides of the stile or rail. When trimming at the joint between two cabinets, use a straightedge as a guide.
Your other option for refacing is to strip wood cabinets of their stain, sand down to bare wood, and finish the cabinets with new stain or paint. This is a more labor-intensive process, but it's a viable option if a press-on veneer isn't appealing to you.
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