How to change kitchen cabinets with veneers

Updated February 21, 2017

The process of changing the surface of a kitchen cabinet by applying a veneer is called "refacing." As long as the original cabinet face has a flat front and sides, as well as square edges, refacing it with a veneer is relatively easy. Veneer can be purchased from most home improvement stores, and comes in a variety of colours and textures. Some popular wood veneers include mahogany, oak and maple. These inexpensive, thin pieces can make even old particle board cabinets look new and classy. Once the veneer is applied, the new cabinet doors and drawers can be attached.

Remove the cabinet doors by unscrewing the hinges from the cabinet face and the doors, then pull the drawers out. Fill in the screw holes with wood filler putty, letting the putty extend past the surface of the cabinet slightly. Let dry.

Sand the entire cabinet with 100-grit sandpaper. Make sure to sand down the wood filler so that it is flush with the flat surface of the cabinet. Wipe off the sanding dust with a tack cloth.

Measure the cabinet. Begin with the height and width of the doors. Then, measure the vertical and horizontal sections of the cabinet face, as well as the sides.

Cut the peel-and-stick veneer using a straight edge and a very sharp utility knife. Add about 1/4 inch to each measurement for trimming.

Begin applying the veneer to the vertical edges on the face of the cabinet. First, place the peel-and-stick veneer (with the paper backing still attached) over the area to ensure it fits properly.

Peel back one of the upper corners and align it perfectly to an edge. The extra 1/4-inch of veneer can extend beyond the edge where the other sheets of veneer will meet it.

Slowly continue peeling back the paper while pressing on the surface of the veneer, smoothing out air bubbles along the way. Roll the veneer roller over the piece once it is adhered in place.

Apply the veneer in the same manner to the inner vertical sections of the cabinet face. Make sure these veneer strips are cut to the exact length of the sections before installing. The width can be trimmed down later.

Stick the veneer onto the outside horizontal sections of cabinet face, then the inside horizontal sections of the cabinet face. The ends of the outside horizontal sections can be left to overlap the vertical sections; this will leave a neat seam when trimming. Finally, attach the veneer to the sides of the cabinet.

Choose cabinet doors and drawers in the same wood as the veneer. Cabinet doors and drawers can be purchased pre-finished or unfinished. For unfinished cabinets, paint a layer of stain over the doors and drawers in the same shade as the veneer. Wipe the excess stain off with cheesecloth and let dry. Then, a layer of finish such as polyurethane or wax can be applied to protect the surface.

Use the tape measure to mark holes in the cabinet face where you will apply hinges. Use a level to ensure the hinges are even. Pre-drill holes for the hinges using a drill bit sized for the size of the screws.

Screw the hinges into place. Then, screw the hinges into the cabinet doors, ensuring the doors are even. Roll the drawers into place.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wood filler
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • Utility knife
  • Peel-and-stick veneer
  • Edging veneer strips
  • Veneer roller
  • Wood stain (optional)
  • Paintbrush (optional)
  • Cheesecloth (optional)
  • Wood finish (optional)
  • Hinges
  • Cabinet doors and drawers
  • Pencil
  • Level
  • Electric drill
  • Drill bit
  • Screws
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