How Do You Prepare Cabinets for Refacing?

How Do You Prepare Cabinets for Refacing?

Question: How Do You Prepare Cabinets for Refacing?
Answer: To prepare cabinets for refacing, clean them thoroughly, remove hardware, sand the surfaces lightly, and ensure they are dry and free of grease or residue.

How Do You Prepare Cabinets for Refacing? Essential Steps for Preparing Cabinets for Refacing

The cabinet refacing process offers a stylish and budget-friendly alternative to a complete kitchen renovation. But before the magic of new cabinet doors and drawer fronts unfolds, meticulous preparation is key. Properly preparing your cabinets ensures a smooth refacing process, a flawless end result, and the long-term functionality of your revamped kitchen. This guide explores the essential steps involved in preparing your cabinets for refacing, empowering you to achieve a successful and rewarding kitchen update. [ 1 ]

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Clearing the Canvas: Removing Doors, Drawers, and Hardware

The initial phase of cabinet preparation involves removing all existing components that might obstruct the refacing process. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts: Begin by removing all cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Unscrew the hinges or detach the mounting hardware depending on the attachment method. Label each door and drawer front with its corresponding location to ensure a smooth reinstallation process later.

  • Drawer Hardware: Unscrew and remove all drawer pulls and knobs. Place them in a labeled container to prevent them from getting lost or damaged during the refacing project.

  • Cabinet Hardware: Remove any other cabinet hardware, such as handles, hooks, or decorative elements, that might interfere with the refacing process. Store them securely for potential reuse after the refacing is complete.

Once all the removable components are out of the way, you can focus on cleaning and prepping the cabinet boxes themselves.

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Creating a Clean Slate: Thorough Cleaning and Inspection

With the doors and drawers removed, it’s time to meticulously clean and inspect the cabinet boxes. This step ensures a strong foundation for the new refacing materials.

  • Cleaning: Wipe down the entire surface of the cabinet boxes, both inside and outside, using a damp cloth and a mild cleaning solution. Remove any grease, grime, dust, or debris that might hinder the adhesion of the refacing materials.

  • Inspection: Carefully inspect the cabinet boxes for any damage, such as cracks, warping, or loose hinges. Minor repairs might be necessary to ensure a sturdy base for the refacing.

  • Filling Holes: If any holes from previous hardware exist, fill them with a suitable wood filler according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Sand the filled areas until smooth once dry.

Transition: After achieving a clean and sound cabinet structure, you can move on to addressing any existing hardware that will remain.

Assessing Existing Hinges and Tracks: Reuse or Replace?

The decision to reuse existing hinges and drawer tracks depends on their condition and compatibility with the new refacing materials. Here’s how to approach this step:

  • Inspection: Carefully examine the existing hinges and drawer tracks for any signs of wear and tear, such as rust, loose screws, or misalignment.

  • Compatibility: Ensure the existing hardware is compatible with the new cabinet doors and drawer fronts you’ve chosen for your refacing project. Different door styles and thicknesses might require different hinge types.

  • Cleaning and Lubrication: If the existing hardware is in good condition and compatible with the new refacing materials, clean and lubricate them to ensure smooth operation.

  • Replacement: If the existing hardware is damaged, incompatible, or simply outdated, consider replacing it with new hinges and drawer tracks that complement the style of your refacing project.

With the hardware situation resolved, you can move on to the final preparation step: creating a smooth surface for optimal adhesion.

Ensuring a Seamless Bond: Sanding and Priming (if Applicable)

The final step in preparing your cabinets involves creating a smooth and even surface for the refacing materials to adhere to.

  • Sanding: Lightly sand the entire surface of the cabinet boxes, both inside and outside, using fine-grit sandpaper. This removes any remaining dirt, debris, or imperfections that might affect the bonding process.

  • Priming (Optional): In some cases, applying a primer coat to the cabinet boxes might be recommended, particularly if the existing surface is uneven or has significant color variations. Consult with your refacing contractor to determine if priming is necessary for your specific project.

Once your cabinets are clean, inspected, and prepped with a smooth surface, they are ready for the refacing transformation to begin.

Beyond the Basics: Additional Tips for Successful Cabinet Preparation

Here are some additional considerations to ensure a smooth and successful cabinet refacing preparation process:

  • Clear Out Cabinets: Before you begin the preparation process, clear out the contents of your cabinets. This allows for easier access and prevents any damage to your belongings during cleaning and sanding.

  • Protect Countertops and Floors: Cover your countertops and floors with drop cloths or dust sheets to minimize dust and debris from falling during the preparation stage.

  • Work in a Well-Ventilated Area: Ensure proper ventilation in your kitchen while sanding or using any cleaning solutions to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

  • Seek Professional Guidance: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the preparation process, consulting with a qualified refacing contractor can provide valuable guidance and ensure a successful outcome.


Meticulous preparation is the cornerstone of a successful cabinet refacing project. By following these essential steps and considering the additional tips, you can ensure your cabinets are well-prepared for the transformation, contributing to a smooth refacing process, a flawless end result, and a kitchen that reflects your style and functionality for years to come. Planning and preparation are key to achieving a kitchen refresh that exceeds your expectations.



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