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Tips For Removing Old Kitchen Cabinets

The excitement is probably palpable. There is nothing better as a homeowner than getting something shiny and new to replace the old and worn, and so it is with new kitchen cabinets as well.

As anxious as you are for your new, sparkling kitchen, there is a right and wrong way of removing the old cabinetry.

Following are some tips you and your contractor (if you’re using one to install your new cabinets) should know before starting the project.

The clearout

This may be an obvious point, but before removing kitchen cupboards, their contents should be completely emptied.

Other preliminary steps include the following:

  • All molding and trim needs to be removed;
  • Turn off valves under the sink and disconnect hoses before removing the sink;
  • Disconnect and move the fridge, stove, dishwasher and any other appliances;
  • Remove the countertop;
  • Pull out all drawers and remove doors; and
  • To remove the cabinets simply backtrack the route of the installer. You should undo the work in logical order — bottom cabinets first followed by the upper ones.

This is definitely not a one-man operation. Manufactured cabinets are heavy. Once you’ve got them out of the kitchen, you can repurpose them in the garage, workshop or basement for storage.

Premade cupboards

If you’re taking down prefab cabinets, use lumber scraps to support the counter and the bottom of the upper cabinets. Take out the screws connecting the units and remove the ones holding the cabinet to the wall. Take out the top screws last. Once the cabinet pulls away from the wall, it can be lifted down off the supports.

Built-in cabinets

To remove cabinets built in place, you’ll need a large hammer, a pry bar with a flat end and a crow bar. Make sure to wear protective eyewear. Use the hammer to remove the frame at the front of the cabinet and then the sides, top, bottom and back. Be careful not to damage the wall.

Choosing the new

Now that the old cupboards are down, it’s time to put up the new ones. If you haven’t chosen your new cabinets yet, you know that kitchen cabinets can make or break the look of your kitchen.

What you didn’t like about your old cabinets

If you figure out why you didn’t like your old cupboards you can be sure not to have those issues repeated. Perhaps lack of space was an issue or maybe the space wasn’t used in the best way. Maybe the cupboards were the wrong style. The more specific you are about what you want to have changed, the better. You’ll be able to get it right from the get-go.

Styles of cupboard doors

The style of your cabinet doors are important to bringing the entire kitchen together. When it comes to cabinetry they could cost you the most. Choosing a style doesn’t have to cause you angst. Just go with what really speaks to you — that goes for colour and design. If your taste is more traditional, you can’t go wrong with the Shaker style. You can modernize it with hardware, a unique counter and backsplash.


Cupboards don’t have to be made of wood. After all, it’s your home. If you want your cabinets to be made of marble, that’s your decision. Some of the more popular materials other than wood, include glass and stainless steel.

Hardware styles

Choosing the right hardware is a totally distinct job. The types of drawer pulls you choose will make a huge difference in your overall look. Here are some popular styles:

  • Traditional nickel or steel knobs and drawer pulls;
  • Vintage ceramic or glass;
  • Vintage pulls with the screws exposed;
  • Bar pulls;
  • Wire pulls.

Custom cabinets on a budget

It’s true, cabinets are expensive. But you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to end up with a terrific looking kitchen. There are many affordable options even when it comes to having your cabinets custom made and that route may be the best for you since custom means one of a kind and unique to your own, special style.

Talk to a custom cabinet maker about the differences in materials and how that impacts quality. When talking to the experts about custom cabinets, give thought to your lifestyle and how you want your kitchen to reflect that. How much storage do you need? How durable do the cabinets need to be. Do you have children? That may impact your decisions.

How long are you planning on staying in your home?

Are you updating your kitchen because you are planning on staying or because you’ll be selling and hope to reap the benefits of a kitchen reno? The answer to those questions would determine how much money you should sink into your kitchen sink… and cabinets. If you plan on staying in your home for the long haul you might consider spending more on a custom kitchen, including custom cabinets.

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