Asked on Mar 7, 2013

What to do with solid oak kitchen cabinets?

Jim JakesBlueLine Home Maintenance & RemodelingEmily


I just bought a home that was built in 1968. It still has the original oak kitchen cabinets which were really well made. I am not a fan of oak (usually like walnut) but don't want to rip out all the cabinets. I would like a not too expensive way to give the kitchen a facelift. I will be replacing the appliances with stainless steel ones and tiling the floor. And will most likely get granite or a similar stone counter tops with a tile back splash. Any ideas or suggestions? Thank you.
5 answers
  • You can strip, seal and then re-stain them to give you the look of walnut. You can also remove the doors and hardware and send the doors out to your local refinishing shop to do the hard work for you. Once done with doors and drawers, follow up with the cabinet frame fronts and exposed sides and you will have those walnut cabinet look that you like. Then choose new hinges and door handles and you have a complete new kitchen for a fraction of the cost of replacement.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Mar 7, 2013

    Check out this article I wrote on Cabinet refacing. New doors with a veneer skin for the cabinet face frames is a great option. The trick here is to check to see if your drawer fronts can easily be removed...if not you may need to add drawers to your shopping list.

  • Emily
    on Mar 9, 2013

    You could paint them, that's something I'm planning to do with mine.

  • I would recommend having a professional strip and re-stain with a walnut finish to the cabinets and save money on your counter tops but still giving your kitchen the rich look of granite or solid stone counter tops by seeking a concrete resurfacing installer in your area. We have given many happy homeowners resurfacing of their existing counter tops, added more with additional wood then resurfaced all to look just like granite, marble, or natural stone while saving them thousands of dollars. Check with installers in your area. It should run $30-$40 a square foot installed versus $50 to $100 a square foot!

  • Jim Jakes
    on Mar 14, 2013

    If they are nice oak I would try to keep that finish. It may be some work stripping and refinishing but you will be amazed at how it may turn out. I suggest whatever you do to do a single door or small area to get ideas. You can always strip it off.

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