Replacing kitchen doors over buying a completely new kitchen is considerably better for your wallet and the environment, so it should be your first thought when considering changing up your space.
Using the existing cabinet carcasses, given that they're in good condition and you’re not looking to change the layout or storage drastically, you can still give your kitchen design a complete makeover with new doors and drawers fronts. And all this for less cost and hassle than installing a new kitchen from scratch.
(MORE: How to Renovate a Kitchen)
However, replacing kitchen doors isn't just the preserve of those looking for a quick makeover on a budget. Replacement kitchen doors have become a big business for those looking to add a designer edge to basic, but quality kitchen carcasses from big retailers, offering designer good looks at a price point that's a step between budget and luxe kitchen brands.
But where do you find replacement kitchen doors that fit? And how much will you save versus replacing the entirety of the kitchen? This guide answers all that and more, with a step by step tutorial for replacing kitchen doors too so that you can undertake this project on a DIY basis.
How Easy is Replacing Kitchen Doors?
A kitchen carcass is the units themselves minus the door and drawer fronts and their fixing.
Replacing kitchen doors isn't a tricky task in itself, and largely only requires a screwdriver and the right fixings for the job.
However, finding the right replacement kitchen doors can be more difficult, as they'll need to perfectly fit the existing kitchen to look right when installed.
Is my Kitchen Carcass Suitable for Replacing Doors?
You'll need to examine the existing kitchen carcass to identify whether replacing the doors is viable. However, kitchen carcasses tend to hold up well, with kitchen doors taking the brunt of everyday wear and tear and damage from sunlight. Even kitchens that are five to 10 years old may have life left in the carcass!
Water damage is one potential issue to look out for, particularly with cheaper carcasses made from the likes of melamine-faced chipboard, where it can cause unsightly stains and damage to the carcass. This is common around sink areas.
You should also consider if the existing kitchen suits your storage requirements. If your space could work harder, changing the internal layout of the cabinetry may be beneficial, and require replacing the carcass as well as the doors.
(MORE: Kitchen Storage Ideas)
How to Find Replacement Kitchen Doors
In general when replacing kitchen doors, you'll be replacing standard door sizes, which makes locating an exact match from a suppler easier.
If, however, you have a bespoke kitchen, you might find it trickier to source off-the-shelf replacement doors. In this case you will need to have them custom made adding to the price.
For some retailers of replacement kitchen doors, there sizes are based on specific kitchen ranges, usually from budget carcass providers such as IKEA and Howdens. This means they produce their kitchen doors specifically for these ranges, and they may not be able to retrofit them to a different design.
Some doors are supplied with pre-drilled fixing and hinge holes. You will need to consider how these will work with any fixing holes already in your carcasses. Others come supplied with no holes, in which case you or your kitchen fitter will be in charge of drilling them.
Some suppliers offer the option of drilling holes in their standard doors to your particular specification, typically for a small additional cost. They can usually offer advice on how to measure where the holes will be required.
More often than not, doors will not come supplied with handles – or be drilled to take handles – meaning you will need to order and fit handles and knobs yourself.
In the case of new drawer fronts, you will most likely need to order these in conjunction with whole new drawer boxes, unless these remain in good condition. Certainly this is the simplest option as it ensures the drawer box and front will use compatible fixings.
How Much Does Replacing Kitchen Doors Cost?
The cost of replacing kitchen doors, much like the cost of buying a new kitchen, will depend on the style, quality and size of your kitchen.
While changing 12 doors in a kitchen with replacements from the likes of IKEA or B&Q you could expect to pay from around £300+, for the up-and-coming retailers offering design-forward replacement kitchen doors, such as Husk and Plykea, you're likely to see prices of between £3,000 and £4,000.
What's Better: Repainting or Replacing Kitchen Doors?
Of course, repainting doors rather than replacing creates less waste, so is worth considering too.
Whether it's better to repaint or replace your kitchen doors will depend on the condition of the doors and your preference as to the style of the existing doors. In a kitchen with good quality timber doors, scratches and dents can be repaired before painting, helping to improve their condition before they're given a refresh with new paint. This will be harder to achieve with melamine.
(MORE: Painting Kitchen Doors)
Even with the best preparation, bear in mind that melamine fronted kitchen doors aren't the most durable when painted, so unless you're dedicated to the uptake required, it may be best to opt to replace your kitchen doors instead.
Repainting kitchen doors can be quite a time-intensive DIY project, while replacing kitchen doors can be relatively simple and quick to achieve.
How to Replace Kitchen Doors
Measuring When Replacing Kitchen Doors
When ordering new doors, be sure to measure the doors themselves, not the cabinets — they may very well be different in size and even if this is only by a few millimetres, getting it wrong will result in doors that won’t close properly.
Measure the backs of the doors, as the fronts may have rounded or bevelled edges, and always work in millimetres. If the doors happen to be missing, you can measure the overall width and deduct 4mm.
In the case of corner units or those that slope, there will usually be several options, such as having two doors hinged together or two separate doors that operate in opposite directions, coming together over a corner post central to the unit.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing Kitchen Doors
1. Remove your old doors by undoing the existing hinges. Begin by taking off the bottom hinge, as removing the top hinge first could place undue leverage on the bottom hinge.
2. Fit the backplate (also called a hinge plate) to the inside of the cabinet. Many new hinges come complete with the correct screws.
3. Fit the other part of the hinges to the new doors themselves. The hinge will fit into the recessed hinge hole in the door — ensure the arm of the hinge remains at a right angle to the edge of the door.
4. Fit door to cabinet, fixing the hinge onto the hinge plate and screwing into position. First attach the top hinge, then fix the bottom hinges together. Backplates are usually adjustable, so can be moved a couple of mm up and down by loosening the screws.
5. Fit the handles or knobs to your doors. Replacing doors and drawer fronts provides the ideal opportunity to update your kitchen; even something as simple as new handles can transform a dated look.
6. Once all the doors have been attached, go around adjusting the hinges until all of them operate smoothly. Tighten screws, but not so much that you risk damaging them.
Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. She has renovated a terrace and is at the end of the DIY renovation and extension of her Edwardian cottage. She is now looking for her next project.
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