Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

How to apply veneer to kitchen cabinets: refacing

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Before you start the steps below, you should have prepared your cabinets. When you're all ready to begin:

Refacing end panels

Start with the end panels. You want your cabinets to look nice, so use the measure-twice-cut-once rule. Many cabinets have a frame that extends from the end panel about an eighth of an inch. If that's the case with your cabinets, measure only to the edge of the panel.

When making your initial cut, be sure to err on the side of caution. You can always cut more off. Check the size of the piece you've cut by holding it in place and trimming off any excess.

  • If you're using non-adhesive veneer, apply wood glue liberally to the back of the board, allow it to get a little tacky and then put the veneer in place. Use some finishing nails to secure it to the wall while the glue dries.
  • If you have pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) veneer, peel back some of the paper at a top edge to expose the adhesive. Start putting a little pressure with your hand on the board to fix the veneer in place, pulling back more paper to reveal more adhesive as you go. Apply additional pressure using the veneer scraper in the direction of the wood grain.

Repeat this process on all end panels.

Veneering inside edges

Your first step is, once again, measuring. Cut your rolled veneer strips longer than you need by a quarter- to a half-inch to ensure complete coverage. If your veneer strips are wider than you need, let excess hang off the front to facilitate cutting with a razor after veneer is applied.

Start at the end of the strip and apply pressure and/or heat, making sure to keep the strip aligned. When you reach the corner, trim off the extra length using the corner as your straight-edge guide. Secure any loose spots with more heat/pressure, trim excess width and sand down lightly to make it flush. Repeat around all edges.

Refacing rails and stiles

Stiles are the vertical parts of your cabinet frame, and rails are the horizontals. When doing this part of the process, be sure to complete each cabinet box before moving on to the next. Measure rails and stiles, and cut pieces slightly bigger than you need. Veneer on the stiles between cabinets can be cut to cover each individually or both together in one wide strip, provided your cabinets are well aligned.

Apply veneer to the stiles first, lining up edges and keeping all excess to the inside of the opening as much as possible, so it's easier to trim off later. Next, apply rails in the same fashion -- overlap is fine. Trim all excess, holding the knife at a 10 to 15 degree angle to ease cutting and to lessen the chance of doing damage when cutting. Where the veneer overlaps, use a straight edge and cut through both layers. Score several times to make sure you've cut all the way through, and use the knife to peel back veneer and remove all excess. Ensure there are no loose edges, and move on to the next opening.

Once you've refaced the entire kitchen, give the veneer 24 hours to set. Check out our article on finishing the process and making your kitchen look great.

Previous--How to apply veneer to kitchen cabinets: prep

Next--How to apply veneer to kitchen cabinets: finishing

About the Author
Karl Fendelander cut his teeth on web writing in the late nineties and has been plugged in to the newest technology and tuned in to the latest trends ever since. With an eye for design and an ear for language, Karl has created content and managed digital media for startups and established companies alike. When he unplugs, Karl can be found biking about town and hiking and climbing throughout the West.

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