Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Tricks to fix up kitchen cabinets

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Cheap cabinets can bring the whole kitchen down. From hardware issues like cabinets that won't close or open, to aesthetic ones -- cabinets so boring your food is bland just being near them -- there are things you can do to rescue your kitchen without a complete cabinet replacement or major remodel.

Assessing, fixing and classing things up

Open every cabinet and pull out every drawer. Closely examine all of the hardware, paying special attention to trouble spots. Here are some important issues to note -- and fix:

  • Broken or missing hardware: Hinges, knobs, pulls, shelf supports, drawer slides and other bits of hardware can go missing or get broken. Note what needs to be replaced and start thinking about what you want to replace it with -- a matching piece or something totally new? Get crafty by making your own handles from old utensils or go classy with nice metal hardware.
  • Stripped screw holes: Put a few drops of wood glue on the end of a tooth pick, put it in the hole, let it dry, cut off the extra and sand it down. You can drive your screw right into this fix. Supplement with wood putty for larger holes.
  • Broken, cracked (or boring) panels and drawer bottoms: You can glue on panels to reinforce and cover cracked areas. This works great for drawer bottoms if you glue thin plywood underneath to support a cracked or flimsy bottom. You won't always be able to make a repair, so don't rule out refacing (or defacing -- i.e., completely removing the door or drawer face). Once things are structurally sound, think about painting, staining or completely resurfacing.
  • Cabinets that don't seem well attached to the wall: This can be a serious issue or just a few loose screws. Inspect as much as you can and add support if necessary. If there's a risk of your cabinet full of dishes dropping off the wall unexpectedly, call a contractor.
  • State of the toe kick and other trim: The toe kick is that board under your cabinets, right off the floor. It takes a beating. Covering up a toe kick with rubber trim protects it, but metal really classes things up. If you're using metal hardware, make it match to pull the theme together.

Make an honest judgment about what you feel comfortable fixing. You may want to consult a bonded, licensed and insured* contractor like the ones in our network if you feel like you're in over your head with the repairs that need to be made.

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