A Kitchen Cover Up Caper
It’s no secret that a kitchen remodel almost always lends the best bang for one’s home improvement buck. Spacious cabinets, neat countertops, fancy fixtures and state-of-the-art appliances can make even the chef who is best only at making reservations want to hang out in this hub of most homes.
Pour through the pages of one of the many decorating and remodeling magazines next time you’re at the checkout counter of your local grocery store and you’ll see first hand what you’ve been missing. You may be surprised to learn that your harvest gold or olive green appliances have been replaced by stainless steel, black or appliance white as the most sought-after finishes. The same holds true for your kitchen sink, faucet, flooring, cabinets and lighting. And while your gold-speckled plastic laminate countertop was once the rage, it has long since been replaced by solid surface materials – manmade or natural – that minimize maintenance and maximize style and appearance.
You may have found through greater investigation that bringing your kitchen into the new millennium isn’t a cheap proposition and isn’t void of certain disruption – to say the least. Thus, like many people you may find yourself stuck with the “real retro look” due to a limited remodeling budget and/or the fear of being without a kitchen for an extended period of time. Fortunately, you needn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater when it comes to updating your kitchen. You might just find that with a clever “kitchen cover up caper” that you CAN have your cake and eat it too!
A kitchen cover up caper isn’t for everyone. Whether it will work for you depends upon several factors such as the layout of your kitchen and the condition of major components such as cabinets, countertops, appliances and flooring. If the existing layout works; the cabinet boxes are in good shape; the appliances are serviceable; counters are structurally intact and flooring free of rot, your kitchen may be a perfect candidate for this cost cutting alternative to mainstream “gut-and-replace” remodeling.
As the name implies, a kitchen cover up involves covering over exiting surfaces with new finishes. You may know it better as “resurfacing” or “refacing.” It isn’t a particularly new idea. The process of installing new vinyl flooring (tile squares or sheet goods) over existing material has been a popular project for as long as we can remember. However, today the resurfacing process has matured well beyond flooring and cabinets and the materials and methods employed make it an increasingly attractive choice.
What follows are a few major elements of a kitchen remodeling project and how you might deal with them using our kitchen cover up caper.
Flooring: If you like the look of tile, stone, granite or hardwood flooring without the traditional cost associated with these finishes or the work required to remove the existing flooring; consider these alternatives. Snap-together floating floors that rest atop existing flooring material are the rage. There are a myriad of styles, finishes, brands and prices from which to choose. The common denominator is that they are showroom quality easy-to-maintain finishes that can be installed handily by most do-it-yourselfers.
Cabinets: One of the best ways to improve the appearance of your dark stained cabinets is with a fresh coat of paint. Remove the doors and sand down the frames to bare wood. Apply a coat of oil base primer and at least two coats of high quality semi-gloss oil base enamel. While you’re at it toss the doors and (for a painted finish) replace them with new paint-grade medium density fiberboard doors. They take paint beautifully! If you like the beauty of natural wood, brighten the existing finish with a wood bleach or reface the cabinets with the species of your choice. For example, you can cover your dark oak cases with maple veneer and complete the job with a nice light finish. Add a new set of maple doors, concealed hinges and handsome door pulls and you’re kitchen will be the envy of your neighborhood. Check with a local cabinet shop, refacing company or visit www.kitchenrefacingonline.com.
Countertops: It’s been nearly twenty years since we first suggested to a listener of our radio program that she cover her existing plastic laminate countertop with ceramic tile. In doing so, we explained, she would need to cut back the bullnose edge to align with the cabinet face and cut off the backsplash to make way for a new uniform tile splash. Beyond that it was a function of cutting, gluing and grouting the tile. Resurfacing kitchen countertops is now one of the newest and most popular elements of a kitchen cover up caper. Now a revolutionary technique transforms tired old counters into gleaming granite in just two or three days for about two-thirds of what true granite costs. This new material is 95 percent genuine granite, ground and blended with polymer resin that is formed into large slabs only one-quarter inch thick. It is then installed right over existing counters for a “real granite” look. It’s heat, stain and scratch resistant, never needs sealing, and (unlike real granite) carries a 10-year warranty.
Appliances: New flooring and snappy cabinets and countertops can make old appliances look especially bad. Conversely, refacing both cabinets and appliances makes older kitchens look like new! Try brand-new face panels purchased either from the original manufacturer or as an add-on custom-order face panel kit. Panels from the manufacturer simply slide into existing frames, whereas add-on panels offer all the latest “designer” fronts for almost any make and model of refrigerator or dishwasher. Want real stainless steel? How about the new “fingerprint-less” gleaming version? Perhaps a chalkboard or a cork bulletin board refrigerator front? Maybe a “splash” of brilliant color? You can even have lavish, rich wood grains with a beautiful finish and detailed trim.
Plumbing Fixtures: Though a sink can be painted, the finish, while beautiful, is temporary at best and won’t hold up to the abuses that most kitchen sinks are subjected to. Therefore, we suggest that this is one area where you should consider replacing rather than refacing. What’s more, attempting to replace a sink and faucet down the road – after the improvements have been made – can be costly and inconvenient. So, we suggest that you spend a tad of the money you’ll be saving using our cover up caper to install a shiny new sink and glistening faucet. As with appliances, stainless steel sinks are the rage and satin nickel or Venetian bronze are “vogue” when it comes to faucet finishes.
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