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Replacing Kitchen Cabinets in Kitchen Remodeling

Here is an explanation of the major steps taken to remodel an existing kitchen. However, it is not meant to be a complete guide to kitchen remodeling. Depending on the scope of your particular project, you may also be involved with tearing out walls and replacing windows and doors as well as upgrading the electrical and plumbing systems.


As you exercise your do it yourself skills, develop safe work habits and stick to them.

  1. Work patiently. If you become confused, frustrated or in too much of a hurry, chances are greater that mistakes will be made.

  2. Read and follow the specific safety rules of every tool and material you will be using.

  3. Unplug tools when changing blades or making adjustments.

  4. Wear heavy soled boots on any construction site; rubber soles when working on the roof; gloves while handling lumber; and protective eyewear whenever power tools are in operation.

  5. Wear ear protection when using power tools as some operate at levels that can damage hearing.

  6. Tie long hair back so as not to catch it accidentally in power tools.

  7. Keep work surfaces and traffic areas free from scraps and debris.

  8. Select the appropriate tool for the job and keep all tools sharp and in good working condition.

  9. If an object is too heavy or awkward, get assistance in moving it; bend from the knees when picking up large and heavy items.

  10. Hard hats are recommended when working under or around overhead construction.

  11. Turn off all utilities before beginning work. Remember that pilot lights must be relit.

  12. Use the proper protection, take precautions and plan ahead. Never bypass safety to save money or rush a project.

  • Check local building codes and permit requirements before beginning work.

Kitchen Remodeling - Uninstalling Kitchen Appliances

Because all appliances are different, we suggest consulting the instructions for the individual appliance when dismantling. If you no longer have the literature or something is not clear to you, seek professional advice.

NOTE: if modifications have been made to your kitchen in the past, it will be a good idea to measure the door openings and the larger appliances before attempting to get them through the doorways. Old carpet samples or large pieces of cardboard are great for sliding appliances out of position, while at the same time, protecting the floor from gouges or scratches.

Kitchen Remodeling - Uninstalling Kitchen Plumbing

1.To disconnect the Dishwasher you will need to trace your lines from under the sink where they ma have been threaded through holes in the cabinetry. A small diameter copper pipe will be the water supply line, a black rubber pipe will go to the air gap or the disposal, and the power cord will be nearby. If you do not find these under the sink, look for mounting brackets on either side of the dishwasher at floor level. Disconnect these.

Then, slowly and carefully pull the dishwasher forward (you will need to pull hard) until you have enough access to work behind it. Dishwashers are not usually hardwired so you will probably only have to disconnect the plug from the outlet. If yours happens to be one of those that is directly wired, make sure the electricity is turned off at the circuit box before disconnecting the wires from their junction box and capping the wires that remain in the box.

2. The next step is to turn the water off at the shut off valve and detach the rubber hose at the air gap or the waste fitting or the collar of the garbage disposal. Loosen the screw clamps on the hose fittings or unthread the pipe fittings and disconnect the waste line from the plumbing system. Feed the hose through the cabinet to the back of the dishwasher. Then pull the unit forward onto your dolly.

3. To disconnect the Sink and remove the Garbage Disposal, shut off the water supply at the shut off valves below the sink. If these valves are not present, it will be necessary to shut off the main valve. You will not be able to turn the water back on until you have installed a shut off valve or reconnected the sink. Installing a shut off valve can be difficult as you need to get ALL the water out of the supply lines before screwing the fittings on. You will need a plumbers wrench to disconnect the fittings at the sink and cap them with caps of the same metal and threading as your pipes.

4. Place a bucket under the trap to catch the water that stands in the trap. You will need a 1 - 1-1/2" pipe wrench to disconnect the chrome fittings between the garbage disposal or the sink and the P-trap.

5. To disconnect the garbage disposal, pull the plug out of the socket; or, if yours is directly wired, turn off the power and disconnect the wires at the box. Cap those wires, remaining in the box, as described previously. Unscrew the screws that hold the disposal to the bottom of the sink or unclasp the snap ring and rubber sleeve. The unit will then drop down. If you plan to reuse it, store it carefully with the P-trap.

6. Use your plumber's wrench to disconnect the water supply lines to the sink; then, open the faucets to let the water drain. You will have to crawl into the cabinet under the sink to locate the connections (nuts) between the faucet lines and the hot and cold water lines. loosen and remove those nuts that connect the faucet to the sink. Pull out the faucet and, if you plan on reusing it, store it carefully with the nuts and the copper and chrome connections.

7. If your sink is recessed under tiles, you may have to remove some tiles. This will enable you to remove t e entire counter- top unit in one piece. A self-rimming stainless sink or a surface mounted sink may be attached with clips underneath the counter top. loosen the clips with a screwdriver and you should have no trouble wriggling them free. A self-rimming porcelain sink must be pried loose from the adhesive before it can be lifted out.

Note: The old cast iron sinks are much heavier than other types. If this is the type you are removing, you will need an extra pair of hands when removing it.

Kitchen Remodeling - Uninstalling Kitchen Cabinets

1. Once the sink and its fittings have been removed, the next step will be to disassemble the counter tops and remove the cabinets. For this you will need a hammer, pry-bar, putty knife, screwdriver, crowbar, ladder and saw. Many counter tops are made of plywood, nailed to the base cabinets, with the finish material laid on top. With the exception of a plastic laminated counter top, the only part worth saving is the finish material - the tile, marble or wood.

Tile can be difficult to save as they are mostly glass and could crack and fly off in pieces. Synthetic marble slabs can usually be pried off with a putty knife and the appropriate solvent Plastic laminate counter tops and wood slabs are generally nailed or screwed to the base cabinet. These fasteners are located by looking up under the counter top inside the cabinet.

2. At this point, you will be ready to remove the cabinets from their permanent positions. We recommend that you remove the base units first so that you can get underneath the wall cabinets for easier disassembly.

3. It will make the job much easier if you remove all doors and drawers before attempting to remove the cabinets. Then you can easily look inside the cabinet to see where and by what means it is attached.

4. If the units are attached to each other, you can either detach them and lower them separately or lower them as one. If you plan to reuse the hardware, clean and store all the pulls, knobs and their screws in plastic bags. Cabinets can be attached in a variety of ways.

Older types are usually nailed to the wall, to the soffit and/or to each other and may even be built into the wall itself. (in this latter case it will be necessary to demolish all or part of the wall.) Newer units will more likely be held into place with screws. Some models may even be hung on metal or wood cabinet hangers.

Metal cabinets are usually attached with hangers. These can simply be lifted out and away from the wall at the bottom then lifted up off of the hangers . Unscrew the hangers from the wall. If screws were use, remove them. If the cabinet is nailed into place, ease the flat end of a pry bar between the unit and the wall. Do this at both the top and the bottom.

Pry the cabinet loose while another person supports it from below. Add a block of wood between the wall surface and the pry-bar to avoid marring the wall. If this method does not loosen the nails, pound the cabinet toward the wall in an effort to make the nail heads protrude enough to draw them out.

5. Lower cabinets are often attached to the wall at the top and can be unscrewed or pried loose. Remove the cove molding or carefully pry away the baseboard at the floor. Remove any nails and lift the cabinet away from the wall.

Preparation for Installation of a New Kitchen Walls, Floors and More  

After the demolition phase, there is usually some preparatory work to be done before you can install your new kitchen. If extensive structural, electrical, plumbing, drywall or paneling work is included in your plans it should take place at this time as well.


  1. Gouges or holes in the walls must be repaired with wall board compound, spackle, or patching plaster. Stuff larger holes with newspaper or fine wire mesh to hold the compound. If you have gaping holes or many gouges it may be necessary to replace the surface with dry wall.

  2. Usually, installing new cabinets will call or some changes in the position of the cabinets, requiring that the walls be painted. If drywall or large patches of filler are being used to prepare the walls, a coat of sealer or primer should be applied before the color coat.

  3. Locate and mark the wall studs on the floor and ceiling as a reference for attaching the new cabinetry.


If you plan to replace your floor, the time to prepare for it is BEFORE installing the cabinets and permanent appliances. Ceramic tile floors are usually placed before the installation of cabinets while vinyl flooring can be laid either before or after the cabinets are in place. If the new floor will go directly on top of the existing one, it is very important to fill any areas that may have dipped, buckled or bulged, as well as any holes or gouges, and nail down protruding boards. Remove glue or paint that may have spilled. Countersink nail and screw heads that are sticking up above the surface. If the old floor is embossed or has dips and/or hollows in it, these should be filled in with cement filler using a 5 to 10-inch wide putty knife.

Water damaged floors must be repaired before laying down a new floor. You will need to remove the existing flooring to expose the damaged subfloor. Damaged portions of sub-flooring must be replaced. Should you find the entire sub floor to be too badly damaged for salvage, it will be best to lay new one. This can be laid directly on top of the existing floor.


These instructions are to be used as a guide but you should always follow the specific manufacturer's instructions where there are deviations. Putting the kitchen together should occur in a logical sequence.

  1. Primer and paint

  2. Ceramic tile, vinyl or hardwood flooring*

  3. Wall cabinets

  4. Base cabinets and islands

  5. Cabinet doors, drawers and hardware

  6. Plywood base for tile countertops

  7. Recessed sink

  8. Counter tops - wood, marble, tile

  9. Surface mounted sink & fittings

  10. Disposal

  11. Dishwasher

  12. Ice-maker connection

  13. Over the range hood/vent

  14. Cook top

  15. Wall oven and microwave

  16. Vinyl Flooring

  17. Range

  18. Refrigerator, freezer, trash compactor & icemaker

  19. Lighting fixtures

  20. Finishing touches - trim

NOTE: Hardwood flooring and ceramic tile are always laid before cabinets are installed while vinyl flooring can be placed after the cabinetry is in place.

Installing New Kitchen Cabinets

Most Common Mistakes:

  1. Not installing level or plumb,

  2. Not attaching to studs,

  3. Damaging or marring cabinets,

  4. Not aligning cabinet doors,

  5. Damaging the walls during installation,

  6. Not cutting sink opening to proper dimension,

  7. Drop-in appliances not properly fitted and installed,

  8. Not making exact fits and cuts, or

  9. Not installing all needed utilities.

Whenever installing stock cabinets, accurate measurements are critical to assure a snug fit. Custom made cabinetry is usually sold with a warranty conditional on having the cabinets installed by the dealer. In fact, the dealer will probably send someone out to make their own measurements.

Most ready-made cabinets come with a scribe allowance at the edges to allow you to adapt them to irregular walls. Scribing simply involves running a strip of masking tape along the side to be scribed; then, positioning the cabinet. (See Fig. J) Set the points of a pencil compass to the width of the widest gap between the side of the cabinet and the wall. Run the compass down the wall and the irregularities will be pencil marked on the tape. Now you can plane or sand down to the line so the cabinet will rest flush against the wall. If the scribe edge is not included on your cabinets or if your cabinets go all the way to the ceiling, plan on trimming the edges with a small piece of molding.

It is easier to install the upper wall cabinets first because you have room to work with them. Since they will hang from the wall, you must make certain they are securely attached.

Before installing any of our new cabinets, remove all the drawers, doors and hardware and label them as to their original locations for quick reassembly. This will make the units much lighter a n more manageable.

  1. Use a chalk line to mark the position of the wall studs on the walls from ceiling to floor.

  2. Measure the height of the base cabinets. If your floor is not level, measure from the highest point. Add to that measurement the thickness oft e counter top. Measure this distance up from the floor and draw a horizontal line across the wall. Use a level to assure this line will be true horizontal. This will indicate the surface of the counter top.

  3. Measure to another point above the line to where the bottom of the upper cabinet will rest (usually 18' to 19" above your 1st line) and draw another horizontal line across the wall. This line (approximately 54 inches above the floor) should also be made with a level to assure it is true horizontal and parallel to the line for the counter top.

  4. Nail a temporary l x 2 ledger board to the wall so that the top of the board is even with the line for the upper cabinets.
    Be sure you are nailing into the studs.  Now mark the cabinet widths along the length of the ledger strip.

  5. You will need to make a few temporary jacks to support the wall cabinets while you attach them to the wall. The total length of the jack should reach from the floor to the bottom of the upper cabinets. Wide blocks of wood nailed to both ends of a 2 x 4 work well for this purpose. Put the jacks into position near the ledger.

  6. When readying the cabinets for installation, we recommend you first prepare those cabinets that will house a hood/vent, ducts and plumbing: Place the cabinet upside down on the floor with the hood in position upside down on the (bottom of the) cabinet. Trace the outline of the vent hole onto the base of the cabinet. Drill a starter hole for your sabre saw, then, cut around the outline and remove the cutout, Next, make a paper template of the ceiling or wall where the cabinet will be placed that shows where the end of the duct will enter. Place the template into position on the cabinet top or back and outline the duct hole. Again, drill a starter hole and cut out the circle with your sabre saw. Mark the location of the Wall studs on each cabinet's hanging cleats; then, drill pilot holes for screws at these points. Self-drilling bugle head screws can also be used. These require no pre-drilling, except when using at face frames. With the doors removed, lift the first cabinet into position onto the ledger board and the temporary jacks. Check to see that the cabinet is both level and plumb in position and, if needed, add shims at the back of the cabinet to bring it into a plumb position.

  7. Screw the 2-1/2 inch No. 8 flathead wood screws through the cleat at the back of the cabinet and into the wall studs - two at the top and two at the bottom. Use longer screws if needed to assure at least 1 -1/4" to 1-3/4" penetration into the studs. Each unit should be attached to a minimum of two studs. If only one stud is located behind a unit, add a toggle bolt as an additional fastener. 

  8. Attach each of the upper cabinets in this manner. Then, go back and screw the adjacent units together. When connecting adjoining cabinets, it may be necessary to loosen wall screws to allow the faces of the cabinet to be attached flush to each other. Use hand screws or a C clamp with soft wood screws between the jaws of the clamp and the face frame often cabinet to hold the units flush while you screw them together.

  9. Recheck all for level and plumb.

  10. Remove the jacks and the ledger board and repair any holes in the wall.

  11. If your lower cabinets have freestanding bases, set the bases in position and level them, shimming if necessary. Also, use a framing square to square them where your base cabinets meet in a comer. When placing shim material, place a block of wood between the shim and the hammer so as not to damage the flooring.  Then anchor them to the floor and place the cabinet units on top of them. Those cabinets without freestanding bases must be leveled and anchored in position as a unit. As you set the base cabinets in place, measure and leave room for our appliances, adding a 1/4 inch for clearance - more if you will be adding end panels. Check the position of your base units against the line on the wall, making certain the tops are equally below the line by the thickness of your counter top. 

  12. Attach the cabinet units together so that the faces are flush. Slide a level down the entire length of the cabinets, adding a shim where there is a gap or to bring it up to level. Place your level front to back on the top of the cabinet to check for plumb - a again shimming if necessary. Then, screw the entire length o cabinets into the wall with the 2 - inch screws through the top cleat and into the wall studs. often, due to some unevenness in the wall, there will be gaps between the back of the cabinet and the wall. To avoid pulling your cabinets out of kilter as you position them to the wall, shim the gaps at the fastening point (where the stud is located) before screwing the cabinet into place.

  13. Island cabinets must have the individual units screwed together and laced into position before leveling and plumbing on all four sides. I the base is separate, level and plumb it. Then, fasten it to the floor With toe nails or angle brackets. Place and anchor the cabinets to the base. When installing an island unit, it is important to square it to the cabinets along the wall and to the wall itself, as well as lining it up properly with the overhead fixtures (stove vent or lighting). Measure off on both ceiling and floor to determine the exact location.

Installing Pre-Formed Kitchen Counter Tops

The two common types of countertops are pre-formed and self-rimmed. Pre-formed tops come assembled from the manufacturer while self-rimmed tops are built at the jobsite using raw materials (laminates and plywood or particle board).

Most Common Mistakes:

  1. Not sanding counter tops to the contours of the wall,

  2. Not applying the finish surface accurately,

  3. Not cutting the sink opening to the proper dimension,

  4. Scratching the countertop over the course of the installation,

  5. Puncturing the counter top with screws while fastening it to the base units, or

Preformed counter tops are available only in standard sizes so you'll generally purchase one a little longer than you need and cut it to length.

To measure for the size counter you will need, add the counter overhang (usually between 3/4 and 1 inch in front and on open ends) and add it to the dimensions of your cabinet.

2. If an end splash is to be included, subtract 3/4 inch from the length of the counter top on that side. Plan your cut for an end which will have an end cap or end splash. Cut the excess off with a handsaw; but first, mark the cut line with some masking tape to protect against chipping. Smooth the edges of the cut with a file or sandpaper

3. The end splash will be screwed directly onto the edge of the counter top or into wood batons previously attached to the edge. Apply silicone sealant to all surfaces to be joined and hold the end splash in place with C-clamps while driving in the screws.

4. An end cap is a pre-shaped strip of matching laminate which will be glued to the end of the counter top.

5. U- and L-shaped counter tops will need to be ordered mitered or cut to order as it is difficult to accurately miter these sections at home. These pre-mitered sections should have small slots for draw bolts cut into the bottom edges. Again, coat the edges with silicone sealant before aligning the edges and tightening the bolts.

6. Fasten the adjoining backsplashes together with wood screws.

7. As with the cabinets, counter tops rarely fit perfectly against the back or side walls. Often, they come with a scribing strip that can be trimmed to the exact contours of your irregular walls. Scribing simply involves running a strip of masking tape along the edge to be scribed then positioning the counter top. Set the points of a pencil compass to the width of the widest gap between the counter top and the wall. Run the compass along the wall and the irregularities will be pencil marked on the tape. Now you can plane or and down to the line so the counter top will rest flush against the wall. Follow the same technique for scribing as explained in the section on cabinets.

8. Once your contours are correct, position the counter top on the cabinet base. Check that all is level and shim where needed. Check also that drawers and doors may be opened freely.

9. Fasten down the counter top by running screws up from below through the top frame and corners. If there are no corner brackets, install them on the base units. This will allow you to install the counter to easily. Again, self-drilling bugle head screws are great for t is job. Round head screws work best here because they will not be seen so do not have to be counter sunk and they bear more weight in this position. Use screws that will be long enough to reach 1/2 inch into the counter core.

Applying Laminate to Counter Tops

When spreading the adhesive for the counter top, it is most easily done with a paint tray and a mohair-covered paint roller. Lay the cut plastic laminate on the floor on top of newspapers and roll the contact cement on, covering the entire surface. Apply a slightly thicker coat of cement near the edges. Next, cover the counter surface and allow both to dry about 15 minutes or until the brown paper will not stick to the adhesive.

2. Wood dowels work better to keep the laminate from sticking to the cemented counter surface than brown par when laying the counter top. Place them at one foot intervals. Then lay the laminate, adhesive side down, on the wood dowels. Put the factory edge against the backsplash and set the tip of the diagonal cut into the comer. This corner is where you will begin.

3. Pull out the wood strip nearest the corner while pressing the laminate into position. Again, be sure the laminate is exactly where you want it. Use a sweeping motion so no air bubbles are trapped beneath the laminate. Work along the counter, pulling out strips of wood and pressing down the laminate. Then, immediately roll the surface with your rolling pin or hand roller, applying extra pressure near the edges.

4. When placing the second piece, make certain the diagonal seam at the corner is very tight and roll the seam thoroughly.

5. If the laminate fails to form a bond or creates a bubble at some point, place a piece of the brown wrapping paper over the spot and place a hot iron (set for cotton) on to of the paper until the laminate feels hot to the touch. he heat should soften the contact cement enough to regain some of its stickiness. Then use the roller again with a firm, steady pressure until the laminate has cooled.

6. Before router trimming the counter top, put masking tape around the newly laminated edges so as not to mar them. Router off the excess as you did with the edges, moving the router from left to right. Then, replace the bit with a 22 degree bevel bit and bevel the seam at the top of the counter moving, as always, left to right. 

Tip: Practice this technique on some scrap before doing the final project.

  1. Finish the bevels with a 14-inch single cut mill file. Apply pressure on the downward stroke. Check each angle with your finger tip to assure there are no rough edges that may later result in cracks. Inside corners are particularly prone to cracking if they are not filed smooth.

Installing a Hood Vent System in Kitchens

Install the hood/vent before the range or cook top so that you can reach all connections easily.

1. Connect a section of 6 or 7 inch metal ducting to the duck pipe entering the cabinet and to the hood. If these holes are too close for a turn, you may need to have a sheet metal box with nailing flanges made to your specifications.

2. Lift the hood into position and trace the holes for attaching the unit with the screws provided.

3. Connect the wiring in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

4. Connect the hood collar to the duct by tightening the metal collar provided or by wrapping duct tape around both collar and duct.


Cabinet Doors and Drawers
By: Paul Bianchina

Got a cabinet door in the kitchen that keeps sagging to one side? Is that drawer in the bathroom vanity still sticking, despite trying to lubricate it with toothpaste? There are all sorts of little nuisances that can occur with the doors and drawers in your home’s cabinets, and here are some repair ideas for a few of the more common problems.

Cabinet Doors

Sagging cabinet doors are a fairly common occurrence, and the larger and heavier the door is, the more likely it is to sag. Sagging typically results from the hinge trying to pull away from the frame of the cabinet, and while this can occur at any of the hinges on the door, gravity dictates that the weight of the door will make the topmost hinge the most likely to fail.

Unscrew the hinges from the frame, and retain the screws. Using a 1/8" drill bit, drill a clean hole into the cabinet at the location of each of the screws, then glue in a small piece of 1/8" hardwood dowel – larger holes and matching dowels can be used if needed. When the glue has dried, trim the dowel off flush with the cabinet, drill a small pilot hole into the end of the dowel, and reinstall the door with the original screws.

A door that will not stay closed against the face of the cabinet is another common occurrence, and the method of repair depends on the type of hinge you have. First, sight along the edge of the door to see if it’s warped – if it is, adjusting the hinges probably won’t help, and you’ll either have to have a new door made or use a cabinet door latch (see below). If the door is straight and the hinges mount to the inside edge of the cabinet faceframe, try loosening the screws in the cabinet and sliding the door in or out. If the hinges mount to the face of the cabinet, placing a thin piece of shim behind one or more of the hinges may do the trick.

European-style cabinets, which do not have a face frame, typically employ a sophisticated hinge that has a number of adjustments in it. Typically, you will need to remove a small decorative cap on the face of the hinge – pop it off with a small screwdriver – to access the adjustment screws underneath. Turning the different screws in or out will move the door in different directions.

Cabinets with older hinges can often be repaired by replacing the hinges with newer, self-closing ones – the force of the self-closer spring will usually hold the door tight against the cabinet. There are dozens of self-closing hinges available, so look for ones that fit the style of your cabinets and obscure the old screw holes.

When all else fails, you can resort to a simple door latch. Door latches come in many different styles and include corresponding magnets that mount to the door and the cabinet; rollers that mount on the cabinet and grab onto a round pin on the door; friction catches that mount on the cabinet and grab onto a metal tab on the door; and bullet catches which have a small, spring-loaded ball that engages into a recessed ring. Pick the style that best suits the look and construction of the cabinets.

Cabinet Drawer Repairs

Before you can effectively repair the operation of a drawer, you need to first repair the drawer itself. Remove the drawer from the cabinet, and examine it carefully for damage. Check to see that there are no large cracks in the wood, that the wood is not warped, and that all of the joints are tight.

Wood that is cracked, warped, or badly worn will need to be replaced. Depending on the drawer’s construction and the materials used, you may be able to separate the pieces of the drawer by tapping them apart with a rubber mallet, and make a new piece to replace the old one. If the drawer is in too bad of a condition, or if it won’t come apart without damaging it further, your best bet would probably be to take it to a cabinet shop and have a whole new one made to match – they can typically salvage the drawer front to eliminate the problems with matching grains and stain colors.

If the drawer itself is okay and you’re still having problems with its operation, replacement or repair of the guide system should solve the problem. Most cabinet drawers operate on metal guides, which support and guide the drawer in and out of the cabinet, and also keep it aligned properly. The most common type of guide today consists of a pair of metal channels attached to the side of the cabinet, with a matching pair of rails that are attached to the drawer. Some older styles have a single rail along the bottom of each drawer opening, with a plastic guide that’s attached to the drawer itself.

With either style, you need to check the connection points where the guides are attached. Check for loose or missing screws – you may need to use the dowel trick outlined above. If parts of the guide are held by staples, you may need to replace them with screws. For European style cabinets, adjustments to the guides will typically need to be done by inserting thin shims between the guides and the cabinet and/or the drawer. If readjustment won’t work, a complete replacement of the guides will probably be necessary.

All of the repair parts you need – including complete new guide systems – should be available at any home center or hardware store.

Copyright 2002 Inman News Features. Distributed by Inman News Features

Cabinet Refacing, Part 2: Preparing the Cases

Once the materials arrive, it's time to remove the contents of your cabinets in preparation for the next stage of the process: refacing the cases, as the cabinet boxes are called.

In Part 1, you ordered your cabinet refacing materials and completed any related improvements and repairs. Now it's time to reface the cabinets. You do this by applying over the cabinet face frames a veneer that matches your new doors and drawer fronts, and by covering cabinet end panels with either matching plywood or door panels identical to the ones you will be installing over cabinet openings. Drawer and door installation (covered in Part 3) can be done at your leisure with the cabinets stocked. So if it better suits your schedule (and sanity) to get your kitchen functioning as soon as possible, restock your cabinets and put the still-loaded drawers back in place after completing Part 2 of the project.

Tools & Materials

  • Refacing materials (veneer, door fronts, etc.)

  • Combination countersink/pilot hole bit

  • #1 and #2 Phillips head screwdriver

  • 1" wood screws

  • Trim pry bar

  • Wood putty and putty knife

  • Hammer

  • Sanding block and 80-, 120-, and 150-grit sandpaper

  • Cleaning supplies

  • Spray adhesive

  • Block plane

  • Shears or utility knife

  • Scribe (compass)

  • 30" (min.) metal straightedge

  • Wood glue and brads, or contact cement

  • Combination square or try square

  • Electric drill/driver with #1 and #2 bits

  • Plexiglas scraper

1. Remove the Old: Remove all doors by unscrewing the hinges from the cabinet. Lift out the drawers. False fronts on sinks are held in place with clips or blocks that are accessed from the back. Use a trim pry bar to remove any molding that is to be replaced.

2. Clean: Clean dirt and grime off face frames and end panels with dishwashing liquid (or other mild detergent) and water. Do not use solvents as they may soften the finish and cause the veneer adhesive to not stick.

3. Cover End Panels: Whether using plywood or a door panel to cover an end panel, it should be installed so the front edge is flush with the front face of the cabinet.

  • Install plywood: If the face frame projects beyond the side of the cabinet, plane the wood until it is flush. If you ordered plywood at 1/4 inch wide to allow for a scribe to the wall, make that 1/4-in. scribe as follows: With the panel on the cabinet and against the wall, adjust it until the front edge is exactly parallel to the face of the cabinet; and hold a pencil or scribe against the wall and mark the profile on the panel. Plane and/or use a belt sander to remove the wood to your line. Attach plywood with panel adhesive and brads and sand it flush with front edge.

  • Tip: Whenever you use panel adhesive to glue panels to a surface, apply beads of adhesive, press the panel into place, but then lift an edge a few inches away from the surface and press it back in place. The adhesive will bond better and cure faster.

  • Attach door panels: Instead of planning any projecting edge of a face frame, you can build out the cabinet sides with strips of wood lattice or plywood before you install the door over the end panel. Attach doors from inside the cabinets. Drill pilot holes through the cabinet wall and into the door stiles. Make sure that the drill and screws are not too long!

4. Fill and Sand: Use wood filler to fill any screw holes, depressions, and the exposed edge grain of any plywood end panels that you installed in Step 3. Sand to level the repair with the surrounding area. Sand the face frames with 80-grit sandpaper to degloss them and make the pressure-sensitive adhesive bond better. To avoid rounding over the corners use a hard rubber or wooden sanding block, not a power sander.

5. Treat Bare Wood: Apply spray adhesive on all bare wood, such as the edges of end panels and repaired areas on face frames. Some professionals like the extra measure of protection that a bonding agent, such as a water-based contact cement, provides.

6. Veneer the Stiles: To veneer the face only: Cut strips of peel-and-stick veneer about 1/2 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the height of your cabinets. Use shears or a sharp utility knife and a metal straightedge. Peel back a couple inches of the paper backing and apply the veneer centered on the stile so it overlaps all edges. Peel off the rest of the paper as you press it into place. With a new blade in a utility knife, score the veneer front then back, flush with the stile on all edges; and bend it to complete the cut. Cut horizontal notches where it meets the rails.

  • To veneer the edges and faces: Cut the strips wide enough to cover the face and edge(s) plus 1/2 inch. Apply to the face as above, but do not trim the veneer along the front edge of the stile. Instead, make the horizontal notches where the veneer meets the top and bottom rails; and bend the veneer around the corner and press it onto the side(s) of the stile.

7. Veneer Rails: Cut similarly oversized veneer for rails and lightly press it in place centered on the rail and overlapping the two stiles about 1/2 inch. Trim the rail veneer that extends beyond the top or bottom of the cabinet. Place a combination square or try square over the rail so the blade is in line with the edge of the stile. Then using the blade as a guide, cut through both veneer layers (called double-cutting). Peel back veneer as needed to remove the cutoffs; and when you press the pieces back you'll have a perfect joint. Trim excess until it is flush with the inside edge of the face frame.

8. Press Veneer: Press and slide a Plexiglas scraper all along the veneer to bond it to the face frame. Do not use a wallpaper seam roller. Sand all corners very lightly with a sanding block and 150-grit sandpaper.

Cabinet Refacing, Part 3: Install Doors and Drawers

Now it's time to complete the installation by installing the doors and replacing the drawer fronts. If you have not already done so, you'll need to lift out the drawers and empty the contents.

In the two previous parts of this project we've ordered parts and prepared existing kitchen cabinets, and veneered the cases and refaced the end panels. The time has come to finally put your kitchen back together starting with the doors and drawers!

Tools & Materials

  • Drawer fronts

  • Twist bits

  • Cabinet doors

  • Clamps

  • Cordless drill/driver with #2 and #1 Phillips bits

  • Door and drawer hardware

  • Handsaw (or saber saw)

  • Moldings

  • 1-1/4-in. screws and wood for jig

1. Prepare Drawers: For a four-sided box drawer with a false front - the part you will be replacing - simply remove any screws, pulls, or knobs to disconnect the false front from the drawer front. For a three-sided box-type drawer, which is built so the drawer front is the front side of the drawer box, first remove the metal drawer slides from the drawer. Then trim the drawer fronts with a saw so the ends are flush with the drawer sides. Turn the drawer so the old front is the back and reinstall the slides so they are flush with the new face.

2. Make a Jig: If you're careful you can measure to locate holes for pulls and knobs. However, a jig (a template) will make the job go faster and lessen any chance of error. Make two jigs, one for the drawers and one for the doors. To make a jig, attach a couple of strips of wood to the square corner of a small scrap of plywood that is at least 3 inches longer than half the width of your largest drawer front and 1/2 inch wider than half of the drawer front height. Drill holes in the plywood (two holes for a pull, one for a knob) that correspond to the desired location of the pulls or knobs on the door and drawer front.

3. Bore Holes: Place the jig over the corner of the door (or drawer front) and place a small board behind the door. This backer prevents the bit from splintering the wood as it exits the back side. Clamp the assembly together and drill through the holes in the jig and through the door (or drawer front). Use a bit slightly larger than the diameter of the machine screws for these clearance holes.

4. Install the Doors: With hinges already attached to the doors, hold the door in place. For an overlay-type door, make the overlay at the top and bottom equal and screw the hinge to the stile. For an inset door, clamp a block of wood to the face of the lower rail at the proper height to support the door while you mark the hinge location of the stile. Screw hinges to the stiles.

5. Adjust the Doors: Many hinges allow vertical and horizontal adjustment, and some permit depth adjustment, too. Follow the instructions that come with the hinge to adjust each door until all are level and plumb and are in line and parallel with each other.

6. Position First Drawer Front: Hold a drawer front in place, centered over the opening and with the desired spaces above and below. Drill through the clearance holes and into the face of the drawer box. (It may help to have someone keep some outward pressure on the drawer box.) Install the pulls with the machine screws provided. For an inset drawer, shim under the drawer front until the space above and below is equal, then drill the holes. Install the pull with machine screws provided.

  • Tip: If you need to adjust a skewed drawer front, remove the pull and enlarge the clearance holes in the face of the drawer box. Reinstall the front and the pull, but just until the screws are snug. Close the door to adjust the front and then open it to tighten the screws.

  • When pulls are not used, position the drawer front as follows: Drive two 1-inch wood screws through the front of the drawer box so the points project about 1/8 to 3/16 inch. Position the drawer face and press it in place. Remove the drawer front to locate holes made by the screw points. Drill 1/2 inch deep pilot holes. Reposition the doors, and drive in the wood screws.

7. Install Remaining Drawer Fronts: Use the same method to install the remaining fronts. An alternative is to measure the distance from the top of the front to the top of the drawer box face on the drawer you just completed, and use it as a guide in positioning subsequent drawer fronts.

  • Tip: When all drawers and doors are in place and all adjustments have been made, drive two additional screws through the drawer box face and into the drawer front to prevent them from falling out of adjustment or to strengthen the connection on drawers without pulls.

8. Install Door Pulls or Knobs: Use the machine screws provided to secure the door pulls or knobs in the clearance holes that you drilled in Step 3.

9. Install Sink Front: Position the sink front on top of the closed door and against the face frame to mark the sides of the opening on the back of the sink front. Reuse the false-front clips from the old sink front, attaching them inside your marks. Alternatively, attach 3/4-inch thick blocks of wood at your marks and install a thumb screw at the edge which will lock over the back of the stiles when the front is placed in position.

10. Install Moldings (optional): Installing mitered prefinished moldings requires considerable skill and care. While many pieces may be precut, the ones that aren't must be precisely cut using power miter saws with top-quality blades. All joints must be glued and the trim fastened with brads, preferably using pneumatic nailers, which leave very small fastener holes. Unless you are skilled and properly equipped, consider having a trim carpenter handle this task.

Tip: To gain convenient storage space for sponges and other sink supplies, install the sink front tray using fall-front hinges or a sink front drawer mechanism.

Illustration provided by

Choosing Your Cabinets
By: Katherine Salant

When most people think about the cabinetry for their new house, what they're focusing on, and frequently obsessing about, is the door style. Contemporary? Traditional? Which wood? What stain? Light or dark? Faux blue? There's a surfeit of choices, but the first step in the winnowing process is deciding on a price range and a cabinet grade.

The three main divisions or grades of cabinets are stock, semi-custom, and custom. There is much overlap between them; the only hard and fast distinction is price. Custom cabinets are the most expensive, stock cabinets are the least expensive and semi-custom cabinets are in between.

With custom cabinets, the cabinet boxes are made with higher grade materials, the finishes are hand applied, there is a greater choice of wood species and stains, and the detailing is more refined. Most of the higher cost however, is due to the custom factor--custom cabinets are made to order in any size requested.

With stock cabinets, there are fewer choices of wood species for the doors (but they can be stained to mimic other woods), fewer coats of finish that are machine applied, and less expensive materials are used for the cabinet boxes. But some stock cabinet lines, such as Merrilat, now include features that were once the hallmark of custom cabinet makers, such as base cabinets with roll-out trays and solid wood drawers with dovetail joints and under-mounted drawer glides (these are stronger drawers with a tonier look).

The critical distinction between stock and custom cabinets, however, is the sizing. Stock cabinets only come in fixed sizes, so there is less flexibility in designing a kitchen with them. Since custom cabinets can be ordered in any size you want, the sizing issue may point you in one direction over the other. For example, if your new kitchen will be oddly shaped, or it's small and you want to get as much cabinet storage as you possibly can, custom cabinets may be the way to go.

Semi-custom cabinets occupy an ill-defined, gray area between the other two grades. Most of them are made by either a custom cabinet maker or a stock cabinet maker that wants to increase its market share, so the features offered depend on the parent company. If it is a stock cabinet maker, the semi-custom line will offer more wood species and finishes and more sizes. Conversely, if the parent company is a custom cabinet maker, its semi-custom line will have fewer features and finishes and there will be some limitation on the sizing.

A few high-end production builders use semi-custom cabinets, but these are more often specified by semi-custom and custom home builders.

Nearly all production home builders use stock cabinets. Price is certainly a factor in this preference, but almost as important is the easy availability of stock cabinets. They can be delivered within three weeks of placing an order, whereas a custom or a semi-custom cabinet order generally takes eight to twelve weeks, at a minimum. For a home builder on a very tight construction schedule, as all production builders are, this is critical. If the wrong size or cabinet style is inadvertently ordered or delivered, the problem can be quickly rectified.

If you end up with stock cabinets, either because you are working with a production builder or your budget dictates it, don't fret that you are unduly compromising. Over the last fifteen years the quality of stock cabinets has vastly improved in appearance, detailing and durability. In fact, stock cabinets may be the most sensible choice for you, even if you can afford more expensive ones. Do you really care about the costlier hand applied finishes or ball-bearing drawer glides that are standard issue with any custom line?

Once you've dealt with the preliminaries -- what's the difference between cabinet grades, which one is the right choice for you, and you've narrowed the field to one or two cabinet lines -- you can start obsessing about the door styles with abandon. Custom and semi-custom lines offer the most choices in the doors, but stock lines also offer enough to keep you lying awake at night.

Most cabinet doors are wood and broadly speaking, there are two types. The door will be either completely flat, which gives it a contemporary look, or have a panel which can be raised or flat, which gives the door a traditional look.

With stock cabinets, the least expensive wood door will have a single panel of veneered plywood (this is the standard cabinet door for many production builders). A medium-priced stock cabinet door will have a raised panel that is veneered wood over particle board. The most expensive stock cabinet door will have a solid wood panel (it looks and wears the same as the other one, but you will know the difference!).

A flat-paneled stock cabinet door is fine for a bathroom. But in a high use area such as a kitchen, try to upgrade to a raised panel type if possible. The increased thickness of the door gives it more strength and rigidity. The type of hinge can also affect door strength. A concealed European-type hinge that is commonly used on a full overlay door is generally stronger than standard hinge, which is partially exposed. Although children hanging on the cabinet doors can weaken the hinges and cause them to break, Debby Saling, a certified kitchen designer in Beltsville, Maryland, observed that a more common problem is adults who bend down to get something out of a base cabinet and then lean on the door to boost themselves up.

With semi-custom and custom cabinet lines, the wood doors will be solid wood. The flat paneled doors can have more panels as well as more refinements that give it a Shaker look. This type of flat-paneled door is usually stronger than the stock cabinet type and it should work in any room in the house.

With all three cabinet grades, the size of the cabinet doors will affect both price and appearance. Larger doors and drawers that cover the front of the cabinet box when they're closed (the ";full overlay" type) are more expensive. The difference is subtle, but it can give a ‘traditional look" a more ";contemporary feel." With standard door and drawer sizes, the front of the cabinet box is partially exposed when the doors are closed.

Nearly all stock cabinet lines offer oak, maple, hickory, cherry, and vinyl wrapped white doors. At the semi-custom level, birch and poplar doors are also available, and white doors are lacquered, a more expensive process that gives a more refined look. The number of stains, which can affect appearance dramatically, increase. At the custom level, tropical hardwoods such as teak and mahogany doors are also possible. Nearly all cabinet lines, in all grades, offer wall cabinets with glass doors, which will add an upscale look if your dishes, cups and glassware match (if you have a hodge-podge, though, this type of cabinet will look terrible).

Some of the semi-custom and custom lines offer colored stains such as ";Sherwood green" or ";Nantucket blue." These may look intriguing, but they're trendy and will soon look as dated as the purplish ";pickled maple" finish that was popular in the early 1990's. You're better off to stay with a natural wood color; a perennial favorite such as red oak is always a good bet.

Before you make your final decision on the doors, try to see an entire kitchen with the one you have selected, even if this requires some doing (ask the cabinet dealer if you can see a completed job of a former client or ask the builder if you can see the finished house of someone who got them). This is especially important if you want a dark wood or stain because dark cabinets will make a kitchen appear darker and smaller than you expect.

Copyright 2001-2002 Katherine Salant. Distributed by Inman News Features

Install Base - Cabinet Rollouts

Improve the efficiency of your kitchen cabinets

Accessorizing your kitchen cabinets increases the amount of storage and vastly improves convenience. But if your cabinets are like most, they have a single fixed shelf in the base units, a couple of adjustable shelves in the wall units, and a big empty space under the sink. There are lots of easy-to-install wire baskets and accessories that you can buy; or you can make your own with readily available hardware. Since there's lots of underutilized space in base cabinets, why not start there by installing rollout wire baskets or simple custom-made drawers installed with drawer slides.

Materials List

  • Tape measure

  • Drill/driver and bits

  • Screwdriver

    For wire rollout basket:

  • Bottom-mount rollout wire basket

  • Side-mount rollout wire basket

    For custom rollout drawer:

  • 1/2" or 3/4" plywood

  • 1x4 pine

  • Carpenter's wood glue

  • 4d finishing nails

  • 22" side-mount drawer slides

1. Remove Fixed Shelf: The fixed shelf is likely set into the sides of the cabinet and also attached to the thin back. Be careful removing it or you might damage the cabinet. Often it's helpful to make a couple of cuts through the shelf from front to back with a jigsaw and then pry the pieces free.

2. Install Wire Rollout Basket:

2a. Assemble the Kit: Measure your cabinet opening and note whether your cabinets have a face-frame around the opening. Buy a suitable rollout kit. Check that you have all the necessary parts and assemble the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions using a screwdriver and/or a supplied wrench.

2b. Attach the Slide Guides (Tracks): Locate the tracks according to the measurements given in the instructions or by using a paper template if one is provided. Mark the mounting screw locations, drill the recommended pilot holes, and secure the tracks with screws provided. Depending on the unit, the tracks may be side-mounted or bottom-mounted like the one shown here.

2c. Install Assembled Kit: Fit the assembled basket into place as directed, and check for smooth operation. (If it does not roll smoothly, it's likely due to improper positioning of the guide tracks.)

  • Tip: One of the advantages of a multishelf unit is that you can usually remove the door hinges and attach the door front directly to the rollout. If this is appealing to you, make sure that the kit you buy has that feature.

3. Install Custom Rollout Drawer:

3a. Measure for the Rollout: The rollout must be no wider than the space between the doors when they are open to 90 degrees. Depending on the type of hinges this may be the same as the width of the cabinet opening or less.

3b. Cut and Assemble Rollout: Cut the floor and sides of the shelf. To determine the drawer bottom dimension, subtract from the opening width 1 inch for the slides (unless otherwise specified by the drawer-slide maker), and 1-1/2 inches for the sides of the rollout. Subtract 1-1/2 inches from the cabinet depth for the front-to-back dimension of the shelf. Attach the front and back first, then the side pieces. Use glue and 4d finishing nails for assembly. Sand all surfaces well, apply two to three coats of polyurethane according to directions, and allow the final coat to dry completely.

3c. Install Slides and Rollout Drawer: Attach the drawer slides as directed to the bottom of each side of the rollout and attach the mating track to the cabinet wall. If you have face-frame cabinets or the cabinet doors require that the rollout be narrower than the cabinet opening width, you'll need spacers from the manufacturers. Alternatively, build out the wall of the cabinet as required for the rollout to clear the doors. Slide the rollout into its tracks. Repeat these three steps for a second shelf.

  • Tip: Use two vertical strips for any build-out. Located a few inches in from the front and back edge of the cabinet, they allow you to change the height of the rollout just by moving the tracks up or down.

Garbage Disposal Installation

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start


Kitchen garbage disposers are designed to grind up leftovers and other food waste so that you can flush the debris safely down the sink drain. The sink that you are adding the disposer to should have a normal, full-size drain opening. To power the new disposer, you should ideally run a dedicated circuit from the breaker panel. If that is not possible, tie into another circuit that you have access to. Garbage disposer systems come with various options for you to choose from. For instance, different horsepower (½hp, 1/3hp, ¼hp), reversing capability, insulated for noise reduction and varying warranty terms. Pricing for a disposer unit can range from $35 - $120. Choose the one that meets your needs.

  • Beginner - 3 hours

  •  Intermediate - 2 hours

  •  Advanced - 1 hour

Caution! Make sure electric circuit is off before making any electrical connections.

Caution! Do not run the faucet during installation of the disposal.

Helpful Tips!
There are products available for cleaning your garbage disposal and the drain, which you should use every 1 to 2 months to keep things running smoothly. You can often find these at your local grocery.

Helpful Tips! You will require an electrical connection with a dedicated switch to operate the new disposer. Make sure this connection is available before you start this project.

  1. Disconnect the down drainpipe coming from the sink and the connection that attaches it to the p-trap. Large channel-lock pliers or a pipe wrench work well to loosen the nuts holding the pipes together. When both connections are free, remove the parts

  2. To remove the strainer body from the sink, unscrew the large nut that holds it in place underneath the sink. Clean off the old plumbers putty that surrounds the edge of the drain opening

  3. Place a ¼” bead of plumber’s putty around the drain opening in the sink. Drop the new sink flange into the drain opening and press it into place. From under the sink, slide the fiber gasket and backup ring onto the sleeve. Hold these pieces in place. Next slip on the mounting ring and snap ring.

  4. Tighten the three mounting screws. Alternate tightening each screw a few turns at a time until the mounting assembly is evenly and tightly seated against the bottom of the sink.

  5. Lay the disposer on its side under the sink so you can make the electrical connections. Make sure the circuit breaker is off. Remove the plate on the bottom of the disposer to expose the wiring. Using wire nuts, connect the white wire from the disposer unit with the white wire from the power supply. Follow the same step to connect the black wires. Finally, connect the ground wire from the supply to the ground on the disposer unit. Replace the plate to cover the wires.

  6. If using a dishwasher, you will need to tap out the dishwasher knockout plug. Lay the disposer on its side and use a screwdriver and hammer to tap it out.

  7. Align the disposer with the three mounting ears on the sink mounting assembly. Holding the disposer in place, turn the lower mounting ring until all three mounting ears are locked into the mounting assembly.

  8. Install the discharge tube and its gasket to the disposer. Turn the disposer until the discharge tube aligns with the drain trap. If the discharge tube is too long, it should be cut to fit. If it is not long enough, you need to purchase extension pieces to make up the difference.

  9. Connect the dishwasher tube to the disposer.

  10. Now that everything is installed and in position, lock the disposer to the sink mounting assembly using the special wrench that came with the unit. Finally, you should test the disposer for leaks and turn on the electrical breaker to test its operation.

Shopping List

Materials Needed

  • Garbage disposer

  • Plumber’s putty

  • Wire nuts

  •  Hose clamps

  •  Electrical switch

Tools Needed

  • Flathead screwdriver

  •  Phillips screwdriver

  • Hacksaw

  • Pipe wrench

  • Channel lock pliers

Installing Base Cabinets

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start


Installing new cabinets in your kitchen can greatly enhance the look and functionality of your kitchen - plus updated kitchens are a major selling point for homebuyers. All you need to do is select the pre-fabricated cabinet style that you like and spend a weekend installing your new cabinets.

Buying ready-made cabinets makes this project that much easier. The cabinetmaker has done all the hard work by providing you with modular cabinets that are usually pre-finished and ready for installation. In this tutorial we will cover the installation of the base cabinets. Check out our tutorial on installing hanging cabinets if your project includes hanging cabinets.

  • Beginner - 1 to 2 days

  •  Intermediate - 1 to 2 days

  • Advanced - 1 day

Caution! Do not screw the cabinets together through the thin walls or backs. Only screw through the framing or ledger boards. They are much stronger.

Helpful Tips! Install hanging cabinets first. It will easier to work on the hanging cabinets without the base cabinets in the way.

Use a scroll saw or jigsaw to cut out plumbing and other fixtures that protrude into the new cabinets.

  1.  Base cabinets, as well as hanging cabinets, must be anchored to the studs in the kitchen walls. For this reason, your first step is to determine where all the studs are in the walls. Use a stud finder or small drill bit to locate the studs. Once you find the first one, the others should be spaced 16" apart. Make sure you mark both edges of the stud.

  2. After your base cabinets are installed, it is critical that they are level and exactly the same height from section to section, otherwise the countertop will not fit correctly and will not be level. To ensure this, you need to determine if your floor is level. If not, you need to find the highest point in the floor and shim up the cabinet sections to compensate. Using a long, straight 2" x 4", place a carpenter's level on top of it and move it along the floor next to the wall. Identify the highest point and mark it on the wall

  3. Measure the height of the new cabinets. Most likely this dimension is about 34" to 35". At the high point you determined in your floor, measure up the wall using this dimension. Mark this point. Using a carpenter's level, create a level line along the walls where you are installing the base cabinets.

  4. Install the first cabinet section in a corner. Using wood shims, raise the cabinet to the reference line on the walls. Using a level, make sure the top of the cabinet is level in all directions - front-to-back and side-to-side.

  5. Using 2-1/2" screws, screw the back ledger of the base cabinet into the studs in the wall. If you find gaps between the wall and the cabinet, slip a shim in the areas you are screwing to avoid pulling the cabinet towards the wall

  6. Using a chisel or utility knife, cut off any protruding shims.

  7. Put the next cabinet in place. Again, you need to shim it into position and make sure it is level. Also, make sure the faces of the two cabinets are flush with each other. Using clamps, pull the two adjacent cabinet frames together. Using long screws, secure the cabinets together. Screw the second cabinet into the wall

  8. In some cases, you may need to install a filler strip in between a cabinet and a wall. Use the same technique you used to secure two cabinet sections together. Clamp the filler strip in place and use long screws to fasten it in place.

  9. To cover up gaps between the cabinets and the floor, install a thin piece of molding that provide a more attractive appearance. You can also follow our tutorial on Installing Vinyl Cove Molding to hide this gap.

  10. If you are installing a new countertop, you can usually buy a ready made counter the matches your tastes and the style of your new cabinets. Generally you can have your local home improvement retailer cut the countertop to length and cut the hole for your sink. Make sure your measurements are precise - you only get 1 chance to cut the hole for the sink! To install the countertop, place it on top of the cabinets. Secure it in place from inside the cabinets with screws that go through the corner brackets of each cabinet section.

  11. If not installed already, the final step is to install the cabinet doors and the pulls (knobs and handles). Usually the holes are pre-drilled and ready to go.

Shopping List

Materials Needed

  • Pre-fabricated base cabinets

  •  2-1/2" screws

  •  Wood shims

Tools Needed

  •  Drill

  •  Clamps

  •   Hammer

  •  Carpenter's level

  •  Screw drivers

  •  Screw gun


Form Countertop

IMPORTANT: Read this before you start


There are many different types of countertops, but of all those available, post-form countertops are probably the quickest and easiest to install. Post-form countertops consist of a laminate surface that is glued to a particleboard base. Typically, the base is shaped so that there is a curved front edge and an integrated backsplash with either squared off or 45-degree angle ends available.

If there is one drawback to post-form countertops it is that they are somewhat fragile until they are installed. Therefore, you should be careful how you handle and support the counters. Also, while installation can be easy, it can also be very intimidating because errors are not easy to correct or hide. A careful, methodical approach works best. Remember, a little extra time with measuring and cutting is quicker that going back to the home center for a new counter.

  • Beginner - 5 to 6 hours

  •  Intermediate - 4 to 5 hours

  •  Advanced - 3 to 4 hours

Caution! Make sure you have someone to help you lift the counter. It is easy to hurt your back while lifting and setting the counter in position.


Helpful Tips! Make sure while transporting and storing the counter that it lies flat and fully supported. Also, be careful when cutouts are made in the counter for sinks, etc. The counter is very vulnerable to breakage at those points.


Helpful Tips!  When using a circular saw, start your cut from the underside of the counter so that the circular motion of the teeth on the blade will cut into the laminate first and exit through the particleboard above. In this way the laminate side of the counter will not get chipped along the cut. This rule should also be followed when using a jigsaw.

Helpful Tips! In addition to cutting from the underside, place a strip of masking tape on the laminate side of the counter, directly over the cut that you will make. The tape will provide additional protection against chipping.

Helpful Tips! Paint the underside and edges of the countertop in areas surrounding sink cutouts. Particleboard is very vulnerable to water damage and the paint will help protect it.


  1. Measure for any cuts you will need to make in the counter, allowing for approximately 1-inch overhang on exposed ends and 1/16 to 1/8 inch gap for edges that butt into an appliance. In this way it is possible to "shimmy" appliances like stoves and refrigerators in and out without scratching them.

  2. Cut the counter to length using the jig in the illustration. Always cut from the underside of the counter and in one fluid motion, rotating the saw downward as you cut the backsplash.

  3. With the counter still upside down trace the outline for any sink or cook top that you might install. Try to use templates supplied by the manufacturer so that the hole will be the correct size. If reinstalling an old fixture take measurements from the old hole in the previous countertop.

  4. Once you have your outline, drill a hole inside the outline and use the jig saw to cut out the opening. Remember to support the portion being cut out so that it does not prematurely break off along with a piece of your new counter.

  5. Install the end cap kit by first gluing the battens into place and securing them with C-clamps. Make sure to put a block of wood between the laminate on the countertop and the C-clamp so that the clamp will not scratch the surface. Allow the glue to dry for about an hour before removing the clamps.

  6. With the C-clamps removed, sand any high points down. Do not over sand, you want the edge to be straight and the edges sharp, it is not important that it be smooth. Next, hold the end cap in position and activate the adhesive by pressing an iron at medium heat against the laminate. Cool with a damp cloth.

  7. Bring the edges on the end cap flush with the countertop by using a fine file. Remember to file only towards the countertop so that you do not pull the end cap off, or worse, chip the laminate

  8. Place the countertop on top of the cabinets and check to see how the backsplash mates with the wall behind it. If there are sizable gaps, (as is often the case) scribe along the top of the backsplash and remove the excess material with a belt sander held perpendicular to the backsplash. Make sure the belt is moving down towards the countertop to avoid chipping the laminate

  9. To attach two 45-degree edges together, first put them in position to insure that they will mate correctly. Then spread them apart slightly and apply a generous bead of siliconized caulk to each end and push the two ends together.

  10. From under the cabinet insert the joint fastening bolts in their factory cut slots. Tighten the bolts with the adjustable wrench until firm. Make minor adjustments by tapping the counter with a rubber mallet before making the bolts tight

  11. With the counter in its final position, gently insert shims to lift the counter up approximately 1/4 inch above the cabinets. Next apply construction adhesive between the countertop and cabinets. Remove the shims and let the adhesive dry for 24 hours.

  12. Finally, apply a bead of caulk along the joint between the backsplash and wall and where ever else appropriate, such as along a sink or stove.

Shopping List

Materials Needed

  • Wood Glue

  • Construction adhesive

  • Joint fastener bolts

  •  Siliconized latex caulk

  •  End cap kit

  • Wood shims

  • Sand paper (80 grit)

Tools Needed

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Circular saw with crosscut blade

  •  Jigsaw

  • Electric drill and 3/8 bit

  •  Belt sander

  •  File (fine)

  • C-clamps

  • Iron

  • Level

  •  Rubber mallet

  • Tape measure

  • Caulking gun

  • Scribing compass

  • Safety Glasses

Kitchen & Bath Cabinet Cleaning FAQ

Kitchen cabinets collect more grease, food spills, and moisture than most other parts of the house. Bathroom cabinets add hair spray and toothpaste to the mix. Grime builds up fastest around handles of doors and drawers, which are constantly opened by sticky hands. Greasy soil comes off more easily if it isn't allowed to build up too long.

Painted wood, metal, laminated plastic or wood-grain vinyl surfaces can be cleaned with detergent and warm water solution. Rinse with a cloth or sponge dampened in clean water. Using a dry cloth or paper towel to wipe the surface dry prevents streaking. Most all-purpose household cleaners may also be used; read the label to be sure it can be used on that surface, and follow directions exactly. Test inside a door to be sure it will not harm the finish.

Natural finished wood cabinets may be cleaned with a variety of commercial products, usually sprays, made for this purpose. Read the label to be sure it can be used on the finish, and follow directions exactly. These have a solvent base, so read and follow carefully cautions about ventilation, and make sure there is no spark or flame or pilot light burning in the area that could cause a fire. Dispose of cloths used in a tightly sealed container, again not near a spark or flame. Test inside a door to be sure the cleaner will not harm the finish before starting on other surfaces; they can damage some. Be careful with overspray, they can make a floor slippery.

Refurbish Kitchen Cabinets: Shelves and Hardware

Most kitchen cabinets, even inexpensive ones, work well and look good for a few years, but eventually daily wear and tear takes its toll. Self-closing doors don't. Shelves made of particleboard warp under the weight of heavy dishes or canned goods. Plastic shelf supports break or the holes they fit in become enlarged and no longer hold the supports firmly.

Dish and glassware shelves become water-damaged. The cumulative effect of all this wear may lead you to believe that you need new cabinets, but in fact you can restore or even improve on the original beauty and functionality of your cabinets without spending a great deal of time or money. The fixes here focus on shelves and hardware.

Material List:

  • 1/2-in. grade "A-B" or better plywood

  • Solvent-dampened cloth

  • Circular saw

  • Painter's tape

  • Plywood blade or thin-kerf carbide blade

  • Paint or varnish

  • Goggles

  • Brushes, paint pad, and related painting tools/supplies

  • Tape measure

  • Screwdriver

  • Paper or plastic shelf liner

  • Straightedge and C-clamps

  • Replacement hinges

  • Iron-on wood veneer

  • Household iron

  • Wood filler

  • Finish sander

  • Drill/driver

  • 100-, 150-, and 220--grit sandpaper

  • Dust mask

  • Twist drill bits

  • Self-centering drill bit

  • Door/window stop molding

  • Foam or rubber door bumpers

  • Utility knife

  • Putty knife

  • Material for jigs/guides

  • Drill depth gauge

  • Cam-action saw guide (optional)

  • Wood glue

  • Vacuum

Refurbish or Replace Shelves

1. Replace Warped Shelves: Turning over warped particleboard shelves may help for a while, but for a permanent solution replace these shelves with edged, 1/2-in. plywood ones. Mahogany, birch, and fir plywood is widely available in full, quarter, or half sheets. Using the existing shelves as templates, cut new shelves with a circular saw that is equipped with either a plywood blade or a smooth-cutting, thin-kerf carbide-tipped blade. Plan your cuts so that the direction of the wood grain parallels the long edges and clamp a straightedge to the plywood to guide your cuts. Edge the front and back edges with iron-on wood veneer. Use a sharp utility knife to cut/trim the veneer and follow the simple instructions on the package. Sand all surfaces with progressively finer-grit sandpaper (100-, 150-, and 220-grit) before applying a finish.

  • Tip: Make a reusable guide for your circular saw. Glue and screw a strip of door/window stop molding to a 12x48-in. piece of 1/4-in. plywood about 2 inches from one long edge. Guiding your saw against this, cut the plywood. To use the guide, align the cut edge with your cut line and clamp or tack the guide to your workpiece.

  • If you do a lot of plywood cutting with a circular saw (for this or other projects) you might also invest in a commercial straightedge. Quick-locking/releasing cam-action straightedges are available in hardware stores and woodworking catalogs.

2. Repair Water Damage: Remove shelves and sand them with medium and then fine abrasive paper to smooth surfaces roughened by water. Similarly sand the floor of the cabinet. Vacuum and then wipe off all dust with a solvent-dampened cloth.

3. Refinish Shelves and Cabinet Floors: Unless you are replacing all shelves and can match the wood veneer on the cabinet floor, you'll probably want to paint all the shelves and the floor to achieve a consistent look. Mask the cabinet walls with painter's tape to protect them when you are painting the floors. Protect the refinished shelves with any of a variety of paper or plastic shelf liners.

  • Tip: For the sake of appearance, lightly sand and refinish all shelves, damaged or not.

Replace or Refurbish Hardware

1. Replace Hinges: If self-closing hinge springs are weak, replace the hinges. To avoid difficult refinishing work, choose hinges with mounting holes that match those of the existing hinges, or at least hinges that will cover the old holes. To swap identical hinges, replace one for the other, one at a time, while the door is in place. If necessary, fill the old holes with wood filler and drill new pilot holes in the doors and cabinet frames.

  • Tip: Take care. Although most hinge types allow for some vertical adjustment, measure carefully and locate hinges at precisely the same position on each door and frame. Use a self-centering bit to accurately locate the holes, and be very careful not to drill too deeply in doors or you may come through the face.

  • Replace any worn or missing self-adhering bumpers that cushion doors as they close against the cabinet faces.

2. Adjust Catches: If instead of self-closing hinges you have old-fashioned magnet or spring catches on cabinet doors and they do not work, adjust them. Mounting holes are slotted to allow for adjustment. Simply loosen the screws and move the catch in or out as needed, and tighten the screws. Test, and repeat if necessary.

3. Clean or Replace Pulls/Knobs: Remove all door/drawer pulls or knobs for cleaning. Usually, just detergent and water and perhaps some help from a mild abrasive will restore the original look of wood, porcelain, plastic, and metal hardware. Of course, if you want a new look, replacing pulls or knobs is easy, provided that you choose hardware that fits (or at least covers) existing mounting holes.

  • Tip: To consistently locate and drill the mounting holes for pulls/knobs, use a jig similar to the one shown. There's no one right way to make a jig. Any setup will work that allows you to accurately locate the jig on the door so that its holes will be in precisely the same location on any door. This one fits over a door corner, and because the stops extend beyond both sides of the face, the template can be flipped over to guide holes for a door hinged on the left side, too.

  • Through-drilling can cause break-out or wood splintering on the backside, so always drill into the face of the door. Apply very little pressure as the drill begins to penetrate. Alternatively, clamp a block of wood over the backside of the door where the hole is being drilled.

4. Repair Faulty Shelf Supports: Unless a shelf support fits snugly in its hole, it's likely to fall out. Typically the shelf is positioned where you want it to be, so moving it up or down to a new set of holes is not usually an option. Instead you need to plug the existing holes with wood putty and redrill new ones. Test several bits until you find one that is just the right size.

  • Tip: Use a depth gauge - some types attach to the drill and others to the bit - or simply wrap a piece of masking tape around the bit as a depth-gauge. Drill holes that are 1/16 inch deeper than the length of the shelf support dowel (pin).

5. Tighten Drawer Slides: Typically, drawer slides do not require lubrication or any maintenance aside from tightening the screws that secure them to the drawer or cabinet. Lift out the drawer, pushing release catches if necessary, to access the screws.

  • Tip: If turning a screw does not seem to tighten it, then the hole is probably stripped. Remove the screw and install it in a nearby mounting hole. Alternatively, dip a toothpick or sliver of wood in glue and break off the tip in the stripped hole, then reinstall the screw.

You'll Find Cabinetry in More Places Than the Kitchen and Bathroom

As today's kitchen has grown in importance, it has also grown in size. Many kitchens today include an adjacent entertainment area.

The area can be as elaborate or as simple as space will allow. Its planning requires careful consideration and extensive discussion between yourself and a designer. Often the homeowner has a visual image in his mind of the complete project, and the designer must balance the client's ideas with good taste and attractive functional space usage.

For example, will the area be incorporated into the kitchen? If so, the placement of a second sink in the kitchen must be carefully selected when it will supply water for multiple activities. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, the second sink should be placed in the mixing center of the kitchen. When guests arrive, most food preparation has been completed and the cook is now centering his/her activity around the cooking area. The bartender can then station himself/herself in the mix center without disturbing the cook. Such a design should also place the bartender near the refrigerator for ice.

If the entertainment area will be a separate center, then it should be located where guests will gather in the home. The family room or living room seems to be the most popular selection.

The most important elements of this area include a sink with at least a cold water faucet. Adding a slide-out towel bar under the sink will prove most useful. In addition, an icemaker or under-the-counter refrigerator should be installed.

Types and sizes of beverage bottles normally purchased by the homeowner will determine what kind of liquor storage cabinets will be designed. A roll-out shelf with an insert designed to received the different size containers is a handy way to keep the most used bottles.

Utensil storage for stirrers and cocktail napkins, as well as glass storage, are also necessary. Open glass shelving with brackets can be very attractive, and decorative lighting will accent the storage. If you're planning a full bar, then a mix area and a seating bar will be necessary to design.

Reprinted with permission from the National Kitchen and Bath Association

Eight Steps to a Safe Kitchen

Safety is priority number one when it comes to designing your brand new kitchen. More building codes cover the kitchen than any other room in the house. That's because so many accidents occur there.

Here are some suggestions when designing for safety:

  1. Use proper lighting. Good general lighting, supplemented with proper task lighting that's clearly focused on a work surface, an greatly decrease your chance of injury while preparing a meal. Also, the lighting should not produce any glare or shadows on the surface.

  2. Use slip-resistant flooring. Falling with a hot casserole or a sharp knife in your hand can have serious consequences. A slip-resistant material on your floor, such as matte-finished wood or laminate, textured vinyl or a soft-glazed ceramic tile, will do the trick. If you select tile, try using a throw-rug with a non-skid backing for added precautions, especially around areas that get wet.

  3. Keep a fire extinguisher handy. NKBA recommends that a fire extinguisher be visibly located near a room exit, away from cooking equipment and 15"-48" above floor.

  4. Keep electrical switches, plugs and lighting fixtures  away from water sources and wet hands. Building codes require that every electrical receptacle be grounded and protected with ground-fault circuit interrupters, which shut off the room's electric current is there is a power surge or it moisture is present. In addition, NKBA recommends that all wall-mounted room controls be 15" - 48" above the finished floor.

  5. Consider appliance lock-out options. Many of today's appliances, particularly ranges, ovens and dishwashers, allow you to "lock out" little hands so no one can use them when you're not in the room. This can be done either with lock-out covers or a programmed lock-out system.

  6. Regulate water temperatures and devices. Install faucets with anti-scald devices that prevent water temperature from rising to dangerous levels, or buy pressure-balanced valves that equalize hot and cold water. Faucets also are available that can be preprogrammed to your desired temperature setting.

  7. Find a safe cooktop. Avoid being scalded by steam from boiling pot by staggering burners on your cooktop or have one straight row of burners. And never choose a unit with control along the back of the appliance; controls should be along the side or in the front.

  8. Use the space safely. Think about how traffic will flow through the kitchen and make sure no one will interfere with your space when cooking. Locate microwaves 24" to 48" above the floor to avoid reaching to retrieve food. Slide-out trays and bins in base cabinets make storage items more accessible so you don't have to bend. And lastly, avoid sharp corners on the ends of countertops, especially islands and peninsulas, by having them rounded.

Reprinted with permission by the National Kitchen and Bath Association

Feng Shui in the Kitchen

Feng Shui in the kitchen is considered to be extremely important.

  • Cupboards must be spring cleaned regularly and need to be well organized, uncluttered and easily accessible.

  • Get rid of all unnecessary clutter. Clutter attracts stagnant chi. Only have items which are used regularly and do not get in the way.

  • Fit cupboards and shelves with rounded corners to avoid cutting chi into your body while preparing and cooking your food.

  • Cork and wood surfaces are ideal for kitchen floors. Stainless steel and ceramic tiles can create fast moving chi. This may not be ideal if you want to spend a lot of time in your kitchen. It may leave you feeling drained or tired.

Copyright 1999-2003, Service Magic, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do-It-Best-Yourself Mold Solutions

Phil can help you fix your own property’s mold problems at low-cost, more safely, and better-in- results than what is done by many mold inspectors and mold contractors.  How can Phil help you?

     1. Read Phil’s five plain-English,
mold advice books to master mold inspection, testing, removal, remediation, and prevention for your house, condo, apartment, office,  or workplace.

     2. Buy do-it-yourself, affordable mold test kits, mold lab analysis, video inspection scope, mold cleaner, and mold killer, for the  successful toxic and household mold inspection, mold testing, mold species identification and quantification, mold cleaning, mold removal, and mold remediation to find mold, kill mold, clean mold, and remove mold from your residence or commercial building.

     3. Get FREE mold advice, mold help, and/or answers to your mold questions, by emailing mold expert Phillip Fry at You can also email pictures of your mold problems in jpeg file format as email attachments.

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Phil can help you fix your own property’s mold problems at low-cost, more safely, and better-in- results than what is done by many mold inspectors and mold contractors.  How can Phil help you?

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