There are several steps to refacing cabinets, but it is a DIY-friendly project if you take your time and do things the right way. Plus, you can save money by refacing an existing set of cabinets rather than starting from scratch with new cabinets.

Allen Lyle removes the cabinet doors.
Covering the existing cabinets with wood veneer.

Steps to Reface Kitchen Cabinets

  1. Remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
  2. Prepare the surface of the cabinets. Sand down high spots and fill in low places with auto body filler.
  3. If the cabinets are covered with glossy paint, wipe down the surface with a de-glosser. This will also help remove any dirt or grease.
  1. Cut out pieces of veneer to cover each cabinet surface. This can be done with a straight edge and a utility knife or in some cases a table saw. Each piece of veneer should be large enough to overhang each exposed edge by about half an inch. Pay careful attention to which direction the wood grain should travel.
  2. Apply a coat of contact cement to the back of each piece of veneer and to the cabinet surface. The cement on both surfaces needs to dry until it’s tacky before you put them in place. Depending on conditions this can take from 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Slowly tilt each piece into position and press it down flat with a roller. This will strengthen the bond and remove air bubbles. Once these surfaces connect you cannot reposition the veneer, so make sure you get it right the first time!
  4. To trim the overhanging edge, pull a sharp utility knife along the cabinet edge to cut the veneer flush with the adjoining cabinet surface. If you have a router, you can also use it to do this job with the help of a flush trim bit.
  5. Smooth the edges of the veneer using a mill file. Move the file in one direction, from the veneer toward the cut, so you don’t risk peeling up an edge.
  6. It’s best to work from the outside to the inside of each cabinet. So cover the sides first, then the vertical pieces (stiles), before cutting the horizontal pieces (rails). Because the rails have finished veneer on either end their length must be cut precisely.
  7. Once all of the surfaces are covered, the veneer can be stained and coated with a sealant like polyurethane before you install new doors to complete the cabinet facelift.

Watch the video above for details.

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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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