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Old 08-19-2017, 06:03 PM   #1
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Are my cabinets worth renovating?


I uploaded pictures of my cabinets to my album because I cannot yet post links to images.

We have old birch plywood cabinets (boxes are birch plywood but so are the doors). They look very beat up.

I've been told on another forum to toss these and replace with something new, but I think the folks over there are used to spending $50k on a kitchen. This is a 1945 house that was just thrown together at the end of WWII and we bought it for a song and we want to keep our total kitchen remodel under $5k.

Due to the house being out of level, we know we aren't going to sell this place for a lot so it doesn't make sense to go over $5k with this remodel (heck, even $5k is too much really). We're expecting to live in it another 5-10 years and then sell. I'm thinking we'll get $50k when we sell, DH thinks we'll get $75k. We know the kitchen remodeling isn't going to add to resale value, so any amount we put into it will be purely for my own enjoyment while we live here.

Now having said that, I can't live with this for another year, already tolerated this kitchen for 3 years so far and it's time for something to be done about these cabinets.

DH is terrified that pulling them out will reveal hundreds/thousands of $$$ extra work to be done before putting in new ones. I wanted to keep the old ones too, but cut them to make room for a dishwasher etc. So tell me, is he right? What could we be looking at as far as surprises if we pull these out? Worst case scenario?

Also, are these worth renovating? What I want them to look like are clean, white, modern, shaker cabinets. Currently they are bullnosed and would need tons of filling, sanding, filling, sanding, filling, sanding, priming, and painting to achieve the square edge, shaker, modern look I'm going for. I am willing to put in the work and have been watching many hours of YouTube videos, reading pdfs and how-tos, and DH's woodworking books. But I'm nowhere near the level of comfort yet to actually start tackling this myself.

Are these cabinets worth it? If not, what would you do? $2k budget on cabinets. We will not accept MDF or particle board; we want to go with plywood boxes / solid wood doors if we replace.

Last edited by Chard_Fanatic; 08-19-2017 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:23 PM   #2
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


Yeah, you can't post pictures on your first rodeo. Publish another post after mine and go to "Go Advanced", then "manage attachments". From there you can upload pictures from your computer to the post. Just follow the directions.

One caveat with making space for a dishwasher is the washer is 24" wide and the widest your cabinets will be will probably be 18". We'll look at the pictures once you post them.
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:32 PM   #3
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


You can try to repost your pictures, it is either 2 or 5 posts before being able to.

If your cabinet boxes are in good shape you can reface them and order new doors which will save you quite a bit. Hopefully you can post some pictures soon.
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:50 PM   #4
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


Ok I'll try that; thanks.
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:54 PM   #5
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Old 08-19-2017, 07:07 PM   #6
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


If those were mine I would use a block of wood and hammer and see if I could knock the face frames loose. They didn't even set the nails so they may not have glued them very well.

If you can get the face frames off, you can just reface them and new doors and drawer fronts. If the boxes are in good shape there is no sense throwing them away then turn around and replace them.
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Old 08-19-2017, 07:16 PM   #7
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


You won't be finding solid wood cabinet frames for your budget, so I would do as Big Jim suggests and leave the carcasses, and either refinish the face frames or replace them, and have doors made. They are dated to probably early 70's and could stand some face lifting. You still have the situation with the dishwasher that may not go away. For a small kitchen you could install an 18" dishwasher, and only have to remove one lower cabinet. It works.
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Old 08-19-2017, 07:46 PM   #8
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


Wash them with TSP
Prime with Zinsser 123
Paint 2 coats
New doors is an option, but paint them to see if they will be suitable as painted.
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Old 08-20-2017, 06:26 AM   #9
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


I'm leery of using TSP inside. It's a great cleaner but must be rinsed well! It's residue can cause adhesion issues.

I've painted quite a few similar cabinets. I'll lightly sand them, wipe down with a liquid deglosser and apply a coat of oil base primer or pigmented shellac. The 2 coats of your choice of enamel [sanding between coats] Oil base enamel is the most durable but whites will yellow! Waterborne enamels are almost as durable and won't yellow. The better latex enamels do ok but the cheap ones are prone to chip and peel.

If they were my cabinets [and wife approved] I'd sand lightly and apply a fresh coat or two of poly.
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Old 08-21-2017, 11:49 AM   #10
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJim View Post
If those were mine I would use a block of wood and hammer and see if I could knock the face frames loose. They didn't even set the nails so they may not have glued them very well.

If you can get the face frames off, you can just reface them and new doors and drawer fronts. If the boxes are in good shape there is no sense throwing them away then turn around and replace them.
Yeah that's what I was thinking too. When I look inside at the boxes, they appear to be in good shape. They feel and appear solid. And I've been using them for 3 yrs with no sign of anything that's about to "give." I believe they are a combination of solid birch and birch plywood.

The only thing that might stop me from doing this is if I can't cut out a place for the dishwasher to the right of the sink. I believe these are build-ins, but I don't know that much yet about cabinets. I have read that before WWII, cabinets were built as stand-alone units, but then after WWII they were one continuous cabinet. If these are continuous, I don't know if they can be cut to accommodate the dishwasher. From what I've observed, it appears that the L counter is a stand-alone, but the counter on which the sink rests is continuous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chandler48 View Post
You won't be finding solid wood cabinet frames for your budget, so I would do as Big Jim suggests and leave the carcasses, and either refinish the face frames or replace them, and have doors made. They are dated to probably early 70's and could stand some face lifting. You still have the situation with the dishwasher that may not go away. For a small kitchen you could install an 18" dishwasher, and only have to remove one lower cabinet. It works.
I need a normal sized dishwasher; I do a ton of cooking from scratch and I go through a lot of dishes. We rarely eat out.

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Originally Posted by mark sr View Post
I'm leery of using TSP inside. It's a great cleaner but must be rinsed well! It's residue can cause adhesion issues.

I've painted quite a few similar cabinets. I'll lightly sand them, wipe down with a liquid deglosser and apply a coat of oil base primer or pigmented shellac. The 2 coats of your choice of enamel [sanding between coats] Oil base enamel is the most durable but whites will yellow! Waterborne enamels are almost as durable and won't yellow. The better latex enamels do ok but the cheap ones are prone to chip and peel.

If they were my cabinets [and wife approved] I'd sand lightly and apply a fresh coat or two of poly.
I likely will be tossing all the doors out and replacing with new doors. And it's sounding like I need to do the same for the face frames, in which case I probably wouldn't need any TSP. Although one of the shelves inside has a huge dark stain; I wonder what that is from.

I hadn't heard about the yellowing; that worries me. I was planning on using Zinsser primer and follow up with BM Advance paint (a brilliant/cool white). Do you believe this combination will yellow?

Something else that has been bothering me: I have been told on other forums that I will not be able to achieve the modern, clean, square look I'm going for with these cabinet boxes. I'm worried they might be right. In the pictures you can see many imperfections, and if I paint a satin white, any imperfections will show, including the heavy wood grain. I want to hide almost all of the wood grain and nearly all the imperfections, but am not sure how yet.

But if I'm going to be changing all the doors and all the face frames, I suppose this wouldn't be an issue except for the wood grain on the new wood. I'm not sure how much sanding can do to erase the wood grain.

Last edited by Chard_Fanatic; 08-21-2017 at 11:54 AM.
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Old 08-21-2017, 01:49 PM   #11
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


In order to get a dishwasher in you need to remove 24" of cupboard and have room to open the door with out running into other door knobs or anything.
And reasonably close to the sink.
Can really be a challenge in a U shaped kitchen.
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Old 08-21-2017, 05:15 PM   #12
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


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I hadn't heard about the yellowing; that worries me. I was planning on using Zinsser primer and follow up with BM Advance paint (a brilliant/cool white). Do you believe this combination will yellow?
Waterborne or latex enamel applied over oil base primer will not yellow.
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Old 08-21-2017, 08:36 PM   #13
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


Those look really rough. I'd check Craigslist for some recycled kitchen cabinets. Those folks that put in the $50K kitchens might be selling their old ones.

If the house is 'out of level', that might be worth another post.
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Old 08-21-2017, 09:58 PM   #14
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


Even cabinets built in one continuous unit can be modified to accommodate a dishwasher. If you have to tear our a place larger than is necessary for a dish washer, you might use that extra space for a spice rack/can goods pullout, just a thought.
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Old 08-22-2017, 11:08 AM   #15
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Re: Are my cabinets worth renovating?


Quote:
Originally Posted by BigJim View Post
Even cabinets built in one continuous unit can be modified to accommodate a dishwasher. If you have to tear our a place larger than is necessary for a dish washer, you might use that extra space for a spice rack/can goods pullout, just a thought.
I was planning on having a pretty good-sized pull-out cabinet to the right of the dishwasher, as well as a few other places. I'm going to take a break from this topic for a bit due to some things that have come up, but when I return to this, I'll remove the face frames (if possible) and see what's under them.

Since I'm planning on removing the corner cabinet on the right side, I'll need to tile there. I went to Lowes and found that the tile we put in 3 yrs ago is discontinued, so now I'm not sure what to do about that. I saw some tiles online that appear to be a close match, but I'll need to go in person to match them up.

If they don't match closely enough though, I'm not sure what to do about it. Looked online for the discontinued tiles and they are not available.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChuckF. View Post
Those look really rough. I'd check Craigslist for some recycled kitchen cabinets. Those folks that put in the $50K kitchens might be selling their old ones.

If the house is 'out of level', that might be worth another post.
Which part looks rough? The doors, the face frames, and/or the boxes? Do you think that replacing the doors and face frames will not be sufficient? If not, why? I'd like to know what I'm getting myself into if I do decide to sand/fill/sand/fill/sand/fill/prime/paint the boxes.

Regarding the out-of-level situation, we were told it would cost $20k to put it back into level, but by now we've got over $15k in renovations in the home (new walls, new floors, new tiles, etc) which would crack/break if we put the house back into level...so we're kinda stuck.

House is above-ground, but not enough clearance under home to crawl under. Getting under involves digging first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mark sr View Post
Waterborne or latex enamel applied over oil base primer will not yellow.
I have heard bad things about using waterborne paints on kitchen cabinets; I have heard that the paint flakes, is less durable, not of the same quality as oil-based, etc. What would you recommend if you had to go with waterborne paint on kitchen cabinets?

Last edited by Chard_Fanatic; 08-22-2017 at 11:16 AM.
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