Refacing Kitchen Unit Doors

If your kitchen units are beginning to look past their best, or even if you’re just fed up with them, you can give your kitchen a totally new look simply be refacing the kitchen unit doors.

The amount of effort and expense involved depends very much on the style of the existing doors. But whatever sort of door you are working on, it is easiest to remove it first by unscrewing the hinges.

Refacing Kitchen Unit DoorsSome doors comprise a wooden frame with a panel of decorated hardboard or other material which fits into slots in the inside of the frame and is held in place by small screws.

If your doors are constructed in this way, renovation is a very simple task.

Remove the door handles and unscrew the central panels.

Rub down the wooden door frame with sandpaper, and repaint or varnish as necessary. For the central panels, you can either try to recover the existing panels with a self adhesive decorative vinyl such as Fablon or replace the panels altogether. Decorative vinyls come in a variety of colours and designs, including very realistic wood grain and some bright, plain colours. If you decide to do this, make sure that the surface of the panels are completely smooth, and that any chips or bumps have been filled.

The vinyl will mould itself to the surface of the panels and any indentations or specks of dirt will show up, particularly if you are using a plain colour.

To fit the vinyl, ,cut a piece slightly larger than the size of the panel — you can do this with a pair of scissors.

Peel away the backing paper at one corner and lay it on the panel, making sure that any pattern is straight.

1. Gradually peel away the backing paper and smooth the vinyl against the panel as you go using a soft cloth. Make sure that no air is trapped under the vinyl, or you will end up with bubbles on the surface.

2. Once the panel has been completely covered take a knife and trim off any excess vinyl around the edge of the panel. You can use a marking knife, but take care not to cut through the panel laminate.

Replace the panel in the slots in the door and screw it back in position.

If the panels are too badly damaged to recover, you could cut out new hardboard panels, using the old one as a template, and cover or paint them. Alternatively you could replace them with a ready decorated hardboard such as Laconite. This is supplied in 2440mm X1220mm sheets, and one sheet will cover approximately eight doors.

If your cupboard doors are finished with a plastic coating or decorative laminate, you can simply sand it down and stick new laminate over the top providing the surface is relatively smooth.

Most manufacturers of laminates produce a special grade for use on vertical surfaces. Because it isn’t subject to heavy wear, this is thinner and considerably cheaper than the grade normally used for work surfaces. Also, it doesn’t add so much to the thickness of the doors.

If any of the old laminate has come unstuck, glue it down again using a contact adhesive and fill any dents or holes with a resin based filler.

Rub the old surface down to remove the shine and provide a good key for the adhesive.

Remove any metal edging or door pulls from the top or bottom of the door — these are usually slotted into a groove which runs along the edge.

Cut the laminate about 2mm oversize using a trimming knife with a laminate cutting blade or a special laminate cutter. When you do this support the laminate on a flat surface, decorative side up.

To avoid damaging it when you snap the sheet.

3. Mark the cutting line with a pencil, remembering to leave an overlay for trimming. Place a straightedge along the line and then score it with a knife. Draw the blade towards you several limes.

4. Once the laminate has been thoroughly scored, hold the straightedge along the line and grasp the waste piece with your other hand. If you then pull the laminate downwards in one firm movement it should break cleanly.

5. To align the new laminate without fuss, push two or three drawing pins into the side of the door so that the heads are protruding over the edge. Don’t push them all the way in — leave them sticking out about 2mm.

Spread contact adhesive on the back of the new laminate and the surface of the door. Once both surfaces are touch dry, lay the laminate carefully onto the door, butting the edge firmly up against the drawing pins to position it.

To trim the edges use a planer file or a laminate edge trimmer.

Work inwards from the corners and remove only a little at a time to avoid splitting the edges.

Once the laminate has been trimmed, replace the metal edges or door pulls. If these are slightly loose when replaced, dab a little adhesive in the grooves. You can now screw the doors back in position on the units.

Most modern kitchen unit doors are fitted with adjustable hinges to make hanging the doors square a much simpler task.

If the hinges on your unit doors are fitted with a base plate, this will enable you to adjust the doors up and down, from side to side and in and out simply by loosening the appropriate screw, adjusting the door as required, then re-tightening the screw.

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