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Super Handyman: Give kitchen cabinets a new look

If you are considering a kitchen renovation, then prepare for some sticker shock. This is the most expensive renovation project that you can take on. But there are a few ways to do it on a smaller budget.

For example, kitchen cabinets, if still in good shape, can be refaced. That usually means removing and replacing the old doors and drawer fronts. This will cost a fraction of what new cabinets would set you back.

Here are some things you need to know in order to see if this option might be the one for you:

• The doors and drawer fronts will need to be replaced, so you need to take accurate measurements of all of these pieces. You may find that in shopping for doors, the stores may offer to measure for you for free – which is well worth it.

• All doors and drawer fronts need to be removed. The hinges usually will need to be replaced, as well.

• If you plan to paint, then you can just clean the wood and paint. Use trisodium phosphate, or TSP, to clean away grease and grime.

• If you are going to go with stained doors, then you will need to cover the existing wood with veneer. If you can find a peel-and-stick veneer, you are going to love the ease of installing it over the standard contact adhesive installation. Be sure to use a good utility knife and some new blades for trimming it.

• If your drawer fronts are part of the drawer and not removable, then you will need to try to turn the drawer around and use it that way instead. You can trim the old drawer front to fit the cabinet and then install the new drawer front to the old back of the drawer.

• Consider adding new hardware, too. It will cost a little more, but it’s quickly installed and should add to the nice appearance of your upgraded kitchen.

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Q: We have two large – and ugly – fluorescent ceiling fixtures in our kitchen. Please tell me I can replace them easily. What’s involved? – G.L.

A: You probably can do it. Turn off the circuit at the breaker box to these fixtures. Then remove the fixtures, disconnecting the wires, as well. You may have to do some touch-up painting to the ceiling if the fixtures were larger than the new ones will be. The new lamps are then going to go up with the wiring connections and whatever mounting hardware they came with.

As long as your wiring connections are good and your electrical boxes can hold the weight of the new fixtures, you should be in good shape.

If you aren’t sure of your skills, hire someone to do it. You are going to love the new look.

Super HandyMom tip

I have rabbits in my yard. I think they are cute, but they have just about cleaned out my vegetable garden completely. I have used some wire fencing, but that hasn’t worked very well. I also tried chili powder, and that worked for a little while, but now it has stopped working on most of my plants. I remembered reading that talcum powder would keep them out, so I tried it. I just put down a trail of it around the perimeter of the garden, and so far, it’s actually working. I’ll keep you all posted.

A super hint

Replace an old cabinet panel door with hardware cloth or poultry netting. Use tacks or staples to secure it and give that old dresser or cabinet a new “country” look.

Shoptalk

Drying racks have been around a lot longer than most of us have, but when dryers were invented, a lot of people made the switch. Well, for a lot of reasons, air-drying has come back into style.

A quick and easy drying rack is available from the folks at quirky.com – the Slimline Drying Rack. It’s an over-the-door installation so it can go just about anywhere and folds up when not in use. Even when folded up, there is an available towel bar to hold wet or extra towels.

The rack can hold a good amount of weight and has several crossbars to hold a lot of items that need to be dried.

Have a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at thesuperhandyman.com. Those of general interest will be used in future columns.