Give your kitchen an open look by removing cabinets and replacing them with open shelves. These tips explain how to tackle this DIY job.
Removing wall cabinets and replacing them with open shelves can be a great way to update a kitchen. While not a difficult DIY project, wall cabinets can be heavy, so have a partner on hand for safety.
Removing Wall Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets in older homes were often built in place on the job site using the walls for support. Newer cabinets, on the other hand, arrive as premade units and are attached to wall studs with screws.
This means removing newer cabinets is much easier and causes less damage to walls -- than taking out built-in cabinets. It also means older cabinets usually have to be dismantled piece by piece, making them unfit for reuse in a garage or laundry room.
Unless you're planning to replace your countertops, cover them with furniture pads or quilts to prevent damage from a dropped tool. Then take everything out of the wall cabinets, including the shelves if they're removable. Next, unscrew hinges and remove cabinet doors to make the cabinets lighter and easier to carry. A cordless drill with a screwdriver bit will make the job go much faster.
If removing premade cabinets, cut a few scraps of lumber to act as temporary supports between the countertop and the bottom of the upper wall cabinets. Remove the screws that connect the cabinet units to each other. Then remove the screws holding the cabinet to the wall, leaving the screws at the top of the cabinet for last. Once the cabinet is free from the wall, you and a partner can lift it down from the support blocks.
If removing wall cabinets that were built in place, you'll need a heavy-duty hammer, a flat pry bar, and a crow bar, along with goggles or safety glasses for eye protection. Start by using the hammer to remove the frame on the front of the cabinet, followed by the sides, top, bottom, and back. To limit damage to the wall, use a block of wood between the wall and pry bar, and pry over a stud.
Repairing Drywall Damage
Once your wall cabinets have been removed, you'll need to repair any damage to the drywall.
To patch screw or nail holes in drywall:
To patch larger holes in drywall:
Installing Shelf Brackets and Shelves
When installing shelf brackets, it's important that each bracket is screwed into a wall stud; drywall alone can't support much weight. Premade shelving is available at home centers. Solid-wood shelves sag less than plywood, while melamine or laminate-covered particleboard shelves are the most prone to sagging.
To attach shelf brackets to a wall:
Danny Lipford is the host of the nationally syndicated TV show Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford and the radio show Homefront with Danny Lipford.