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Building Custom Cabinets

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If you want a unique looking kitchen, custom cabinets are a great way to go. While they're great looking, they're very expensive in comparison to other cabinet options. The reality is that building cabinets on your own is probably not realistic. Doing so requires professional skill, lots of time, and your own wood shop. You'll also need to know building codes about things like standard countertop heights and depths, appliance depths (if you want your dishwasher to fit right), and stud spacing in your kitchen. So, if you want custom cabinets, you'll most likely need to hire a professional.

Custom Cabinets

To find a good custom cabinetmaker, start by asking friends and family. If you know someone who's had custom cabinetry done and you like the outcome, ask who it was he or she used. Beyond personal references, you can research online. Look for reviews or ratings. After you have a few options, get in touch and set up a time to visit their shop and talk to them about your options. Don't forget to ask about pricing too! Consider all of this information carefully and then make you final decision.

The cabinets themselves will most likely be made out of MDF (medium density fiberboard), with a wooden face. You'll have a whole host of choices when it comes to wood type. Some of the most popular choices include oak, maple, alder, and knotty pine. You'll also have to pick a finish. Remember, though, if you plan on painting your cabinets, the type of wood isn't important, so you might as well go with something cheap. Whoever you hire to do your cabinets will be able to give you a more complete overview of your available options.

Tearing Out the Old Cabinets

Here are a few tips on your old cabinets. Wait to tear them out until your new cabinets are ready to be installed. Also, there's a right and wrong way to demo cabinets. They need to be removed in the opposite order than the way they were installed. If you weren't there for the installation (and even if you were), you should let your carpenter take care of this for you. If it's done wrong, you'll end up with damaged walls and floors, which will take a good deal more of your time and money to remedy.

That being said, here's what cabinet demo will look like: First, you'll need to take everything out of them. Then, put up some plastic between the kitchen and the rest of the house, as dust and debris are likely to fill the air once demoing begins.

The countertops will need to come out first. If you plan on reusing these, removal will need to be done very carefully. Determine what's holding them in place (screws, nails, etc.) and then do what you need to loosen them.

The cabinets will go next. These are usually simply screwed into the wall. Remove the screws, and the cabinets should be pretty easy to remove. Just make sure you have someone to help you hold up the ones that are suspended. When removing the sink or other appliances make sure the electricity and water going to them are shut off at the source (circuit breaker, valve, etc.).

Installation of the new cabinets will be pretty much the opposite. After preparing the room, the cabinet bases will be installed by screwing them into place in the wall behind them or into the floor. Then the countertops, sink, and appliances can be put into place. Your final step will be to fill those cabinets with all your bowls, plates, pots, pans, and whatever else you had in the old ones!

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013

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