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An outdated kitchen can make cooking and even spending time in it unpleasant. You’ve had enough of the outdated hardware, old oak cabinets, or scratched laminate countertops. And yet, you still can’t find the time to deal with all of this.

And you are right! You could change your kitchen by simply painting the cabinets, but that is easier said than done. If it only were as easy as Pinterest makes it look!

For starters, average kitchens come with engineered cupboards and base cabinets, and those are not easy to repaint. The finished and polished surfaces don’t adhere to paint all that easily, and the new layer will peel off in no time. If you want to get the job done, you will need to sand the kitchen cabinets and apply primer on the surface before you paint.

The second obstacle is that DIY painting can get messy. If you lack the experience, you may need to hire professional help and spend more on the project than planned.

So how to cover kitchen cabinets without painting them? As it turns out, you don’t need to be an experienced carpenter to achieve awesome results.

Our guide on how to cover kitchen cabinets without painting them

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In this post, we gathered the 7 essential tricks for painting cabinets in an outdated kitchen. Check them out:

Apply vinyl

What if you can redo your kitchen without painting? Vinyl comes in thin, self-adhesive layers on contact paper which you can stick to the cabinet surface. These layers are made to last, and you won’t have to worry about installation. If you get bored with them, you can peel them off quickly and give the kitchen a whole new look.

Make sure you buy removable vinyl. These layers are also easier to install, and you can correct the mistakes while applying them. They are also cost-efficient, meaning that your DIY kitchen cabinets project won’t break the bank.

Yet, there is a downside to applying contact paper on kitchen cabinets. As you remove it, there may be sticky residue on the cabinet doors, and you may have trouble removing it. Therefore, it is not the best solution for expensive kitchen furniture, such as honey oak cabinets or maple cabinets.

If you like the whole refresh-with-vinyl idea, there is an even cheaper and simpler solution – adhesive wallpaper.

Consider Herringbone Design

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This is a great DIY kitchen cabinets idea you should consider. It will work the best on basic slab cabinet doors.

The first step would be to divide each door into fourths and to mark the lines using a pencil. You can then recreate the edge bandaging with varying wood and melamine species in different sizes. These are easy to find in any local hardware store, and you will be able to choose between peel-and-stick and iron-on varieties.

To make sure that the banding fits between the lines you drew, cut strips with 45-degree angles on each side. Keep in mind that for each angled cut you make, the next banding section gets an angle in the opposite direction. This is why you need to plan to band carefully, especially if you are using various colors and designs.

When ready, adhere the strips to the cabinet doors one by one. Once you’ve attached all of them, seal the surface of the cabinet with a polyurethane wood finish to optimize their look. You will be amazed by how good your kitchen cabinets look!

Mount molding on the frame

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Molding is another method to come up with DIY warm wood cabinets and a cohesive kitchen. You can mount it on the hardwood frame above the kitchen cabinets. Get up there and secure the crown frame on the backside of the cabinet, so that there are no visible nail holes to fill. Once the frame is up there, you can easily install the entire molding assembly.

How to pick the right crown molding? The main concern here will be size, so make sure you know your kitchen well. The bigger the kitchen and the higher the ceiling, the larger molding you can acquire. In the same way, you will need to dial the molding size down if your kitchen is small and completely furnished.

Next, consider the height of the molding. The molding should be attached at least 9 inches away from the ceiling so that you can clean the kitchen easily. Don’t make it worse by creating odd and unnecessary gaps above the kitchen cabinets. The downside here is that you are looking at a complicated installment process. We would advise you to hire a carpenter or contact a friend who is skillful around tools.

Attaching copper panels on cabinet front doors

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An additional way to go around painting kitchen cabinets is to cover the wood doors with copper panels. The metal sheets are not only practical, but they turn immediately into the center of attention. Also, you don’t have to be a professional to install them.

First, purchase a cooper sheet and cut panels in the appropriate sizes. Get some additional narrow wood trim and cut out corresponding frames for each panel. You can then attach the trim frames to the cooper panels with a pin nailer.

Once done, think of an interesting pattern you would like to tape to the panel. You can find some amazing suggestions online, such as honeycomb designs or equally spaced holes. You can print the pattern and use an awl and a hammer to apply it.

This way, you will end up with the most elegant kitchen cabinets you could create.

Recreate glass doors for a spacious look

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Do you sometimes wish your kitchen had glass doors? You can achieve the very same effect and revive your kitchen without necessarily replacing your cabinets.

Glass is always an excellent choice in the kitchen. It doesn’t only relieve the visual weight of wooden elements – it also reflects light and compliments your beautiful dishware. It would look just amazing in darker, uncluttered kitchens.

Best of all, you can get glass almost anywhere. The glass shop offers a variety of panels: clear, ribbed, or frosted glass, so pick the one you like the most. To keep the setting playful, apply glass only on the center panel. Before you do so, remember to sand the surface to make sure that the glass layer will be even.

Here comes an extra tip on glass doors: make sure the glass piece has a 1/2 inch smaller on each size. You can then apply it and fasten it with clips.

Add the trim yourself

 

Add your trim to a simple slab cabinet door. You can begin by creating a thick frame out of baseboard trim pieces, each with mitered corners. Use a pin nailer or glue to bring the pieces together and attach the frame. You can even create a second frame for the inside flat edge, this time with medium-sized trim pieces. You can either find some great inspiration ideas online or design your unique trim.

Replace the knobs and the handles

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It is surprising how important knobs and handles are for the entire look of kitchen cabinets. You can sometimes change the entire vibe of the room by adding new hardware and purchasing new elements. You can do this yourself, and you won’t have to worry about the budget.

The drawer pulls can be anything you want: pineapples, oddly shaped crystals, or even cat faces. If you are not sure what you need, there are thousands of products you can order online. Your hardware will easily turn into a conversation ice breaker and it will attract everybody’s attention.

If you are feeling particularly creative, create some DIY knobs from old toys or other durable items. You can refresh them with some paint and drill them directly on the kitchen cabinets. This way, you won’t have to pay anything for your brand new DIY kitchen.

Shutter-styled covers

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If you don’t want to paint kitchen cabinets, here comes a great DIY idea for recessed-panel cabinet doors and wood cabinets. Measure the inside of the inset panels, and cut 1.5-inch craft boards in the same length. Lay the first board at the panel’s bottom, and angle it moderately upward so that the inside edge of the frame is overlapped. Adhere it in place by applying glue along the top underside of the board.

Next, put the second layer in place and glue it. Repeat the process until the entire inset panel is covered. You can then frame the shutter design with the narrow wood trim pieces,

Use narrow wood trim pieces to create a frame around the shutter design.

Tack decorative placemats

You can also update wood cabinets by tacking accessory placemats on their doors. They will transform the space instantly.

Placemats also allow for more flexibility than any other method on this list. They come in all colors and designs – geometric, tribal, renaissance, and much more. You can opt for a monochrome solution or a fancy printed design. Get some pins to fasten the placemats and you are ready to begin.

Remove Cabinet Doors to Create Open Shelves

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Take your kitchen remodel project to the next level and remove the cabinet door altogether. Open shelving has never been more popular. It simply creates a better flow and some extra storage possibilities in an otherwise cluttered kitchen. Not even to mention that you will finally be able to display all of your amazing dishes and new stainless appliances.

For more intricate designs, paint the backs of the cupboards and the kitchen cabinets, or add some wallpaper on them. Washi tape, for instance, will provide extra flexibility on existing cabinets, as you can replace it easily any time you want.

You can even add some wallpaper, fabric, or wrapping paper to the backs of the cupboards to spruce them up.

Open shelving on upper cabinets is a fantastic solution, but you also need to enhance your display design ideas. Removing the doors from existing cabinets won’t help if you store jars and cans. Instead, let it be the home of your most beautiful glasses and plates. There are some great ideas on the Internet, so start browsing!

Ending thoughts on how to cover kitchen cabinets without painting

As you saw, it is possible to update wood cabinets without paint. We have summarized some great tips on how to cover kitchen cabinets without painting them. The concept you choose should depend on your personal preference, but they are all guaranteed to bring a homey and warm feeling to your kitchen. Try them, and let us know what works best for your kitchen cabinets.

If you enjoyed reading this article about how to cover kitchen cabinets without painting, we also wrote about subjects like how to style glass kitchen cabinets, why are kitchen cabinets so expensive, how to vent a kitchen sink under a window, and how to calculate linear feet for kitchen cabinets.

That is not all. We have other kitchen related articles on how to remove rust from kitchen utensils, how to fix a gurgling kitchen sink, how to pack kitchen appliances, how to clean the gunk out of the kitchen sink drain, and how to build an outdoor kitchen with pavers.