Sometimes you just want to go for a new look, and we get it. Changing the look of your space can totally revitalize a space. Want to go from a knob to a pull? Or attach new handles in a different spot on your cabinets? To do this properly it’s important to cover up any evidence of the old hardware, then install cabinet hardware on existing cabinet doors to appear as if it was always meant to be that way. Read on to learn some tips on how to do this!
What you’ll need
- Wood putty
- Putty knife
- Damp cloth
- Hardware installation jig or template from kit
- Kitchen hardware
- Drill and drill bit
Once you have decided on if you will use pulls or knobs (or a mix of both), it’s time to decide where exactly to install them on doors and drawers. When it comes to installing cabinet door handles (either knobs or pulls), they almost universally get placed on the opposite side from the door hinges. Many folks prefer to place them anywhere between 1’’ and 4’’ from the top or bottom edge of the door, others like centering them in the face of the cabinet. Anywhere within this range will work as it is based on personal preference.
Again, functionality is a big part of where you place cabinet hardware, and this spacing from the edges of the door is the easiest for people to grab the handles to open and close the doors. You then have the option of placing your pull handles horizontally on the cabinet door, or vertically. It’s important to consider the layout of all the cabinets and drawers when you decide where to place your handles. If you have a lot of high cabinets, for instance, for functional reasons you may consider placing handles lower than if you had a number of low cabinets. Consider form and function to love what you install.
Fill and Camouflage Screw Holes
First, remove the existing hardware by loosening the screw on the back of the door while holding the old hardware in place. Find a shade of wood-filling putty that best matches your cabinet. To cover holes on wood grain, plan to buy three shades of putty—one that matches the lightest and darkest wood grains as well as one halfway between them. Mix a pinch of each of the three shades together until you have a hue that's as close as possible to your original cabinet.
Use your finger to apply a pinch of putty to the cabinet where the hole is located. Push the putty into the hole to fill it completely. Putties can expand or contract, forcing you to sand or refill the holes. If you can get putties that do not change in this way, you will have less to rework. If you have to choose between expanding and contracting putties, we prefer contracting as it is easier to fill a gap than to sand a bulge while preserving the finish of your cabinets. Some putties are water soluble and if you have one of these, instead of sanding you can use a damp cloth to smooth out the surface once it dries.
Mark Drill Holes
It’s easy to make your own hardware installation kits by installing a piece of hardware onto a piece of cardboard to match your cabinet spacing. There are also many commercially available options you can purchase. Whatever you choose, place a template from a hardware-installation kit against the edge of the cabinet, and make a pencil mark in the template's holes that correspond with your kitchen cabinet handles.
Pro tip! Place a piece of painter’s tape under the area where you want to mark the drill holes so that you don’t have marks on your cabinets in case you make a mistake and need to move the marks before drilling!
Drill Pilot Holes
Attach a drill bit that corresponds with the size of your handle's screws. When determining the size drill bit to use for your pilot hole, select a bit that matches the inner diameter of the screw you'll use to attach the hardware. If your pilot hole is as wide as your screw is with the threads, the screw won't be secure.
Carefully drill into the pencil marks, making sure you don't slip and damage the cabinet. If you're using a homemade jig, line it up with the cabinet corner and drill through the template hole and the cabinet door. Be sure to use steady, even pressure. You want the drill holes to be straight into the wood as much as possible. You can limit the risk of a bad angle on your drill hole by drilling into the face of the cabinet, rather than trying to drill from the interior of the cabinet. Wood is more likely to chip on the exit hole of a drill, making this approach a better option as well.
Attach New Hardware
With your holes already pre-drilled in the cabinet doors, simply line up your new hardware with the pilot holes on the front of the doors and secure in place with screws from the back. Use a hand screwdriver to tighten the screws. DO NOT USE A POWER DRILL! Power drills can strip screws and over tighten hardware very easily. Repeat this process by hand for each piece until they are all attached. This is an important detail many overlook, leading to broken screws or marred cabinet faces. Once this is in place, you can sit back and enjoy your new kitchen cabinet hardware!