Removing Kitchen Cabinets

Q: How do we remove old kitchen cabinets?


I've been thinking that we can save some money on our kitchen remodeling project by removing the old cabinets ourselves. But I haven't the faintest idea of how to do that. Where should I start?
—Teresa Lyons-Cobo, San Pedro, Calif.


Tom Silva replies: Before the cabinets can come out, you have to take a few preliminary steps.
(1) Remove any trim or molding.
(2) Turn off the stop valves under the sink, disconnect the supply hoses, and take out the sink.
(3) Disconnect and remove the range, dishwasher, and any other appliances that might be in the way.
(4) Remove the countertop.
(5) Take out all the cabinet drawers and doors. Removing the cabinets themselves is simply a matter of undoing the installer's work in a logical order-base cabinets first, then the upper cabinets.

Most cabinets from the last 25 years or so are factory-built boxes screwed to one another on-site. That's why you'll generally see vertical seams in the face frames. If that's what you have, find and remove all the screws in the edges of the stiles, which hold the cabinets together. Then take out the screws holding the cabinet to the wall or floor.

Manufactured cabinets are heavy, so work with a partner or two, particularly when it comes to removing the uppers. Once they're out of the kitchen, you should be able to reuse them in your garage, shop, or basement. Beats hauling them to the dump.


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