You see these projects pop up all the time everywhere on the internet– painting your kitchen cabinets. While I appreciate a good DIY how-to, a lot of sites don’t address WHEN to replace your kitchen cabinets & when to keep them. Saving money is great, but painting over cabinets that aren’t worth saving just wastes your precious time & hard-earned money. I’m all about saving money with my designs, but I hate it when I spend more money due to a DIY. Here are some tips to help you decide whether to keep & paint the cabinets or when its time to toss them out & get new ones. It is my hope that this post will help educate & save you money in the long run. Happy Designing!
1. If there is any water damage – replace them. You’ll be able to identify this by seeing warping & rippling in the base of the cabinet or doors or flaking anywhere on the base of the cabinet.
2. If there is a weird smell coming from them – toss them. The smell could be formaldehyde that can be found in many older cabinets (especially if they are made of older MDF or plywood) or mold (caused by water damage – see above). Both can be harmful to your respiratory health – definitely not worth keeping.
3. If they are not properly installed – get rid of them or at the very least have a cabinet installer come in to fix it. You can spot this by looking at the cabinets & seeing that they are not level. They are either pulling away from the walls, are not properly secured, which could be a hazard especially with small children, or they were never installed level to begin with. Foundation issues & house settling can cause this problem, too. Either way, as the homeowner, you need to get down to the root cause & fix it properly.
4. If they are made of old laminate or MDF (Medium Density Fiber – basically pressed cardboard), you are really just wasting your time painting them as you are prolonging the inevitable. They can be painted & will look beautiful for a short time, but if this is your forever house – you may need to think twice before committing the time to painting.
5. If they have been previously refaced, replace them. Refacing is a great cheap fix, but it doesn’t last forever & is really a temporary solution. It really won’t hold up for long after painting, either, as the laminate they use to reface the cabinets has a tendency to pull away from the cabinet over time.
6. If the cabinets have pest damage – replace them. One can never be sure of how extensive the damage is & you don’t want to risk infecting the rest of your house. They can also create a lingering smell in your home affecting air quality. Insects & rodents leave behind tell-tell signs like droppings, shavings & burrowed out areas inside the cabinets. At the very least, have a pest control company come in to rid your home of the invasion before painting over the damage.
7. If the cabinets are solid wood & in good shape – keep them & paint them! Hardly any cabinets are made of sold wood now, so keep your nice wood cabinets & paint away.
8. If the cabinets can be updated simply by adding new doors, keep them. It is a very economical to simply replace the doors instead of the entire cabinet box.
9. Replace them if the workflow of the kitchen is undesirable – you’ll never be happy with your renovations if you don’t like the workflow & space planning of your kitchen. No amount of cosmetic paint can fix it a bad floor plan or lack of storage.
10. Consider keeping the bottom cabinets & replacing just the top cabinets with ones that go all the way to the ceiling or even open shelves. This will also save you money & time when renovating your kitchen.
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