Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing starts with understanding components

by Shannon Lee
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Kitchen cabinets are permanent pieces of furniture built to last for decades. Most kitchen cabinets, when built with the right materials and craftsmanship, can take a serious beating and still do their job beautifully. What makes them so durable?

Anatomy of a cabinet

Here's a kitchen cabinet diagram that shows how a typical cabinet is built.

cabinet diagram

There are ten essential parts to the construction. Keep in mind that these descriptions are based on wood cabinets; cabinets made of stainless steel, laminate and the like might have different materials, but the basic parts are the same.

  1. Hanging rail. This is made of solid wood and is integral to the safety of your cabinets.
  2. Corner blocks. If you could look underneath your countertop, you would see these solid wood blocks. These promote stability of your cabinets.
  3. Drawer box. The box is often made of plywood or a pressed wood material. Since it is rarely seen, it usually does not carry any sort of finish.
  4. Doors. These can be made of pressed wood or solid wood. When resurfacing kitchen cabinets, this is usually the only part removed.
  5. Interior. The inside of your cabinets are often unfinished. However, some homeowners opt for the look of wood veneer on the inside.
  6. Shelves. Almost all cabinets come with shelves. Many of these are adjustable with pegs or clips. More elaborate shelves that swing, pull out or swivel are also available.
  7. Frames. The frame of the cabinet provides an attractive surface, against which the doors rest when they are closed. In the case of wood, doors might be made of solid wood while frames may be veneer.
  8. Bottoms. The bottom of your cabinets are often made of plywood.
  9. Finish. From crackle finishes to simple stains to paints, the options for kitchen cabinet finishes are virtually endless.
  10. Sides. The sturdy sides of the cabinet are often pressed wood, finished on the outside but not on the inside, and built to last for a very long time.

Before you start resurfacing kitchen cabinets, it is important to understand how your cabinets are built. The more you know about what you have in your kitchen, the more likely you will be to make an informed and satisfying decision on the refacing material that is best for your space.




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