After a number of years of use your kitchen cabinets will need upgrading for appearance or function but the cost of ripping everything out and starting over can make you wonder if it is worth doing.
Most realtors will tell you that Kitchen and bathroom upgrades will give you the most bang for the buck if the rest of your home is in general good condition. That means if you have other problem areas in your home you may want to start there but after everything is functional upgrading your kitchen is what many buyers look for.
The three largest expenses in your kitchen will be Appliances, Countertops and Cabinets.
Countertops will sometimes cost more then your appliances if you decide to install large areas of imported granite and making that choice should not be done lightly. Although many people enjoy granite in their kitchen if you choose the wrong color or just one that the buyer doesn’t like your investment is worth nothing.
Cabinets that are installed when your home is first built will often be contractor grade with slight improvements in wood choice.
Paint Grade cabinets are often particle board or MDF on both the frame and the doors. Vinyl Clad doors are MDF with a vinyl material heat shrunk to the face of the doors to provide a simulated wood grain.
Better Grade cabinets will have a natural wood used for the door faces but may contain a mixture of plywood and MDF or particle board in the frame. Sides of cabinets that are visible will have a vinyl simulated wood covering usually over luan plywood.
Best Grade cabinets are made of natural woods on all visible surfaces with veneers used on side and face surfaces and better grade hardwoods used for doors. Frames are made of Plywood and higher quality hardware is always used. Best Grade Cabinets may need to be built in place or instillation times may require days verses hours for lower grade cabinets with less detail such as cornice molding.
If you have best grade cabinets then you should count yourself lucky and not modify them unless you are willing to spend a lot of money doing so.
If you have contractor or even better grade cabinets you can modify and upgrade features that will give you something close to a Best Grade install with just a few weekends of work and a handful of easy to use tools.
Making The Upgrades
The first thing you need to do is examine your cabinets for wear. If the frames and shelving are of good quality then you can keep them with no problems.
The next thing you should do is decide what type of doors you will install. Do you want to upgrade from paint grade to hardwood? Do you want to keep the same wood type or move to a more expensive product?
Doors can and drawer fronts can be purchased independently of cabinets so by using a screwdriver or bit attachment in your drill you can change out this part of your cabinets in just a couple hours.
If you need to cover the face frame … the 1×3 inch wood frame that your doors attach to you have 2 choices you can build or get someone to build a new frame which will probably cost at least a few hundred dollars or you can cover the face frame with veneer wood that is glued to your face frame.
I would suggest the veneer method and you can purchase rolls of different types of veneer at most lumber supply centers that will match your door fronts. Most cabinet makers will provide a matching veneer for this exact job so ask when you buy the doors if matching veneer is available.
Alternatively you could go with a dark stain on your doors and paint the face frame a deep dark japan black or other matching color.
It is probably best to buy your cabinet doors pre-stained and ready to install this way you can count on all of the doors matching in color and wood grain.
Adding Cornice Molding
When you shop for high end cabinets or visit a sample home take notice of the features that make their cabinet sets stand apart.
Often a 4 to 6 inch cornice molding added to the top of a upper cabinet can really make it stand out and look more like furniture. These moldings are attached to the cabinet by installing blocks at the top of the cabinet and pin nails in air nailers are best for hiding the attachment point.
Cabinet manufacturers will sell this molding in a variety of wood types and finishes to match your door fronts.
You can also install vinyl on your shelves and upgrade your hinges and drawer sliders for a high class feel and no slam feature.
Adding door pulls are also nice but don’t drop hundreds of dollars into this option. If you are on a budget hit some flea markets or construction recycling places and you can pickup a set of pulls for little or nothing.
You should also consider the added appeal of installing tile or stainless back splashes or adding and upgrading your stove vent fan.
Under counter lighting can also provide both function and a great look.