Asked on Dec 15, 2016

Can we replace kitchen cabinets without removing granite counter top?

by Mar8039518
We recently bought a house with granite counter tops in the kitchen that was put on top of old, worn, and ugly custom cabinets. We would like to replace the cabinets without removing the counter top. Here is my plan:
1) Get unfinished cabinets from my local hardware store (3 cabinets including the one for the sink) two of which will be a few inches narrower because they do not come in the same width of the custom made. The space in between will be filled with fillers.
2) remove the self rimming sink
3) Release from the counter top, from the adjacent cabinet, and from the wall, the 35.5” wide current cabinet at one open end of the counter, and replace it with a new 24” wide cabinet making sure that the counter top is somehow supported at this end, and immediately installing the new cabinet. All this would be done leaving the counter top, the other 2 cabinets and the dishwasher in place. I know this action will need previous accurate height measurements, some maneuver, time, patience, and at least 3 persons, but does not sound to me as crazy as leaving the whole granite counter top on 2x4s. The new cabinet would have the adhesive for adherence to the counter before being installed under it.
4) Once that cabinet is properly fitted under the counter and attached to the wall, we would remove the adjacent cabinet (33”wide sink cabinet) with a 36” wide sink cabinet (since we now have an extra space of approx. 11.5") following the same procedure. To the other end of the sink there is the dishwasher, which will not be moved; and after that, a 16” wide cabinet which will be replaced with a 15” wide cabinet.

5. Remove the 16” wide cabinet and replace it following the same procedure.
I don’t know if I am too optimistic, but this plan sounds to me as more safe, economical, less time consuming, and feasible than having the counter removed by professionals, install the new cabinets and reinstall the counter top; or leaving the counter top supported only by 2x4s. Even when done by professionals, there is always the possibility of the counter top breaking during removal.
With this plan, the counter top is always securely supported with the rest of the cabinets except on the section that will be working on, which will be supported with 2x4 or a narrower cabinet for maybe 15 minutes or less while the new replacement cabinet is installed.
Does this sound crazy, too risky, too optimistic and unattainable?
  6 answers
  • William William on Dec 15, 2016

    Sound very very risky to me. Might be hard to break the seal on the granite and always the chance of the granite itself breaking. Also you would need to level and plumb the new cabinets to match the counter height. If you are determined to do this. Instead trying to break the countertop seal and removing the existing cabinets in one piece. Cut the existing cabinets in half or thirds, up and down, remove each part, putting in the braces for the countertop. Braces should be at least1/8" to 1/4" taller so you can slip the new cabinet in. There would less stress on the countertop this way. Good luck! Can you post your project on Hometalk. I would love to see how this works out.

    • Mar8039518 Mar8039518 on Dec 15, 2016

      Thank you so much. We are still in the planning/exploring stage of this project, and will continue like this for a while. Feedbacks like yours help a lot.

  • Mary Mary on Dec 16, 2016

    Have you considered refacing the cabinets rather than replacing. Repairing the existing cabinets as needed.

  • I would just reface the cabinets you have. Too risky. Granite is very heavy. Listen to William, he knows what he is talking about.

    • See 6 previous
    • Lucky you! And great thinking! I am also trying to do the same thing, looking to purchase my "retirement home" now while still working. My plan is to either by a hopeless dump no one wants or find something I can rent out for a few years then when I retire, renovate at my leisure. So happy for you! Just take your time and put in all the things you want and need.

  • Shawna Bailey Shawna Bailey on Dec 18, 2016

    Can we see pictures? A lot of cabinets look dramatically different with a good paint job.

  • Olene Bigelow Olene Bigelow on Dec 19, 2016

    I'm thinking the same thing, but replacing the uppers and refacing the powers to match.

  • MERC MERC on Nov 04, 2017

    Yes, that plan is the best way. I have done it myself before.