How Can I Replace Old Kitchen Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts?

Updating your kitchen doesn’t have to mean a complete renovation. Sometimes, a simple facelift by replacing old cabinet doors and drawer fronts can breathe new life into the space. In this guide, we’ll take you through the process step-by-step. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or a beginner, we’ve got you covered with expert tips and tricks.

Why Replace Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts?

Cost-Effective Makeover

Renovating a kitchen can be a costly endeavor. By replacing just the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, you can achieve a fresh, modern look without breaking the bank. This approach is significantly cheaper than a full cabinet replacement and still provides a dramatic transformation.

For example, consider the cost of brand-new cabinets, which can range from $5,000 to $15,000 or more for a medium-sized kitchen. On the other hand, replacing doors and fronts can cost as little as $200 to $2,000, depending on the materials and design you choose. This budget-friendly option allows you to allocate your savings to other areas of your home or enjoy a little extra in your pocket.

Improved Functionality

Old cabinet doors and drawers can become difficult to use over time. They might not close properly, the hinges might be squeaky, or the drawers might get stuck. Replacing them can improve the overall functionality of your kitchen, making your daily tasks more efficient and enjoyable.

Imagine opening a drawer that glides smoothly or a cabinet door that closes quietly with a soft-touch hinge. These seemingly small changes can make a significant difference in your daily kitchen experience. Plus, new doors and fronts can include modern features like soft-close mechanisms and easy-grip handles, adding both convenience and a touch of luxury to your kitchen.

Aesthetic Appeal

Let’s face it, outdated cabinets can make your entire kitchen look drab. New doors and fronts can update your kitchen’s style to match current trends or your personal taste. Whether you prefer a classic, modern, or rustic look, new cabinet doors can completely change the aesthetic of your kitchen.

For instance, if your kitchen currently sports a 1990s oak finish, swapping out the doors for sleek, white shaker-style doors can instantly modernize the space. Or, if you love the rustic farmhouse trend, you can choose distressed wood doors with black hardware to create that cozy, lived-in feel. The possibilities are endless, and the impact on your kitchen’s look and feel can be substantial.

Planning Your Cabinet Facelift

Assessing Your Current Cabinets

Before diving into the project, it’s important to assess the condition of your existing cabinets. Ensure the cabinet boxes are still in good shape. If they are structurally sound, replacing the doors and fronts is a viable option. If not, you might need to consider a more extensive renovation.

Check for signs of damage such as water stains, warping, or mold. If the cabinet boxes are compromised, the new doors won’t fix the underlying issues. In such cases, it might be more cost-effective in the long run to invest in new cabinets or refacing the existing ones, which involves applying a new veneer to the cabinet boxes along with replacing the doors and fronts.

Setting a Budget

Decide how much you’re willing to spend on this project. Consider the cost of new doors, drawer fronts, hardware, and any tools you might need. Setting a budget will help you make decisions about materials and design.

To get a realistic idea of costs, start by researching the prices of different materials and styles. Create a spreadsheet to compare costs and keep track of your expenses. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of any additional hardware like handles, hinges, and soft-close mechanisms, as well as any tools you might need to purchase or rent.

Choosing the Style and Material

The style and material of your new cabinet doors and drawer fronts will set the tone for your kitchen’s new look. Here are a few options:

  • Wood: Classic and versatile, wood doors can be painted or stained to match your decor. Popular choices include maple, cherry, and oak. Each type of wood has its own unique grain pattern and color, adding warmth and character to your kitchen.
  • Laminate: A budget-friendly option that comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Laminate doors are durable and easy to clean, making them a great choice for busy families. They can mimic the look of wood or other materials at a fraction of the cost.
  • Thermofoil: Durable and easy to clean, perfect for a busy kitchen. Thermofoil doors are made by applying a vinyl layer over medium-density fiberboard (MDF). They are resistant to moisture and stains, but it’s important to avoid exposing them to high heat to prevent warping.
  • Glass: Adds an elegant touch, but consider frosted or textured glass for a bit more privacy. Glass doors can make a small kitchen feel larger by creating a sense of openness. Use them to showcase your favorite dishes or add decorative elements behind the glass.

Measuring for New Doors and Drawer Fronts

Accurate measurements are crucial. Measure the width and height of each door and drawer front. Double-check your measurements to ensure a perfect fit. If your cabinets are custom sizes, you may need to order custom doors.

Here’s a tip: measure each door and drawer front twice, and write down the measurements immediately to avoid mistakes. It’s also helpful to create a diagram of your kitchen layout, noting the location and size of each door and drawer. This will make ordering and installation much easier.

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

To replace your cabinet doors and drawer fronts, gather the following tools and materials:

  • Screwdriver or drill: For removing old doors and installing new ones.
  • Measuring tape: For accurate measurements.
  • Level: To ensure doors are hung straight.
  • Clamps: Helpful for holding doors in place during installation.
  • Hinges and hardware: New hinges and handles or knobs for a fresh look.
  • Sandpaper or a sanding block: If you plan to paint or refinish the doors.
  • Paint or stain: If you’re customizing the finish of the doors.

Additionally, consider having a rubber mallet, wood filler, a putty knife, and painter’s tape on hand. These tools can help address any minor adjustments or repairs needed during the installation process.

Step-by-Step Replacement Guide

1. Removing Old Doors and Drawer Fronts

Start by removing the old doors and drawer fronts. Use a screwdriver or drill to unscrew the hinges from the cabinet boxes. Keep the screws and hinges if they are in good condition and can be reused.

Take a moment to label each door and drawer front with its corresponding location using painter’s tape and a marker. This will help you stay organized during installation. If the old doors and fronts are still in good condition, consider donating them to a local charity or reuse center.

2. Prepping the New Doors

Before installation, prep your new doors. If you’re painting or staining them, do this in a well-ventilated area. Sand the surfaces lightly to ensure the paint or stain adheres properly. Apply the paint or stain, and let it dry completely.

When painting or staining, use long, even strokes to achieve a smooth finish. Consider using a primer if you’re painting, especially if the doors are made of a material that doesn’t hold paint well. Apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat to avoid drips and ensure a professional-looking result.

3. Installing New Hinges

If you’re using new hinges, attach them to the doors first. Measure and mark where the hinges will go, then screw them into place. Make sure they are aligned properly to avoid any issues when hanging the doors.

Use a template or jig to ensure consistent placement of the hinges. This tool can help you drill holes in the exact same spot on each door, which is especially important if you’re installing multiple doors of the same size. Double-check that the hinges are level before proceeding to avoid any alignment issues.

4. Hanging the New Doors

Align the new doors with the cabinet openings and use clamps to hold them in place. Check with a level to ensure they are straight. Screw the hinges into the cabinet boxes. Adjust the hinges as needed to ensure the doors open and close smoothly.

During this step, it’s important to take your time and make small adjustments as necessary. If the doors don’t align perfectly at first, don’t panic. Loosen the screws slightly and reposition the doors until they are level and aligned with adjacent doors. Tighten the screws once you’re satisfied with the placement.

5. Installing Drawer Fronts

For drawer fronts, remove the old ones and attach the new ones using screws. Ensure they are centered and level. Some drawer fronts might require you to drill new holes, so measure carefully before drilling.

If the new drawer fronts have pre-drilled holes, make sure they match the drawer boxes’ existing holes. If not, use a drill to create new holes. Apply a small amount of wood glue to the drawer box before attaching the front for extra stability. Use a clamp to hold the front in place while you screw it in.

6. Adding Hardware

Finally, add the hardware. Install new handles or knobs to complete the look. If you’re using the old hardware, give it a good cleaning before reattaching.

To ensure consistent placement, use a hardware template or jig. This tool helps you mark the exact spot for each handle or knob, avoiding the dreaded uneven handles. Consider using hardware that complements the style of your new doors, such as sleek, modern handles for a contemporary look or vintage knobs for a more traditional feel.

Tips and Tricks for a Smooth Installation

  • Label Everything: Label the old doors and drawer fronts before removing them to avoid confusion during installation.
  • Pre-Drill Holes: Pre-drill holes for screws to prevent the wood from splitting.
  • Use a Template: If you’re installing new hardware, use a template to ensure consistent placement of handles or knobs.
  • Take Your Time: Rushing the job can lead to mistakes. Take your time to ensure everything is aligned and installed correctly.

In addition to these tips, consider enlisting a helper for the installation process. Having an extra pair of hands can make tasks like holding doors in place or aligning drawer fronts much easier. Also, take breaks as needed to avoid fatigue, which can lead to mistakes.

MKE Kitchen Remodeling: Cabinet Refacing and Replacement Services

Transform your kitchen with MKE Kitchen Remodeling! We specialize in cabinet refacing and replacement services in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Whether you’re looking to update your cabinets with a fresh new look or completely replace them, our expert team ensures top-quality workmanship and customer satisfaction. From modern designs to classic styles, we tailor our services to meet your unique needs. Contact MKE Kitchen Remodeling today to give your kitchen the makeover it deserves!


Replacing old kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts is a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh new look. With careful planning, the right tools, and a bit of patience, you can achieve a professional-looking result that will breathe new life into your space.

Not only will your kitchen look updated and stylish, but it will also function better, making your daily cooking and cleaning tasks more enjoyable. Plus, this project can increase the value of your home, making it a worthwhile investment if you’re considering selling in the future.


1. How much does it cost to replace cabinet doors and drawer fronts?

The cost can vary widely depending on the materials and style you choose. On average, expect to spend between $200 to $500 for a small kitchen and up to $2,000 for a larger kitchen with custom doors.

2. Can I replace cabinet doors and drawer fronts myself?

Yes, with the right tools and some DIY know-how, you can replace cabinet doors and drawer fronts yourself. It’s a relatively straightforward project that can be completed in a weekend.

3. Do I need to replace the hinges when I replace the doors?

Not necessarily. If the old hinges are in good condition and compatible with the new doors, you can reuse them. However, new hinges can provide smoother operation and a more updated look.

4. How do I choose the right style for my new cabinet doors?

Consider the overall style of your kitchen and your personal preferences. For a modern look, sleek, flat-panel doors work well. For a more traditional style, raised panel or shaker doors are a great choice. Think about the color scheme and materials that will complement your existing kitchen decor.

5. What if my cabinet boxes are not in good condition?

If your cabinet boxes are damaged or not structurally sound, it may be worth considering a full cabinet replacement or refacing. Refacing involves applying a new veneer to the cabinet boxes and replacing the doors and drawer fronts, offering a more comprehensive makeover while still being more affordable than completely new cabinets.