Update a Cabinet with Molding

Update plain cabinet fronts with an application of molding.

Q. All the cabinets in our house are plain white laminate. Is there a way to add decorative moldings to spruce them up?

A. Yes, you can add moldings to laminate cabinet doors, but getting the moldings to seem integrated into the cabinets will be the key to success.

The moldings themselves can be as plain or fancy as you wish, from narrow strips applied along edges to more elaborate moldings miter-cut to fit each door and drawer.

Typically, moldings would be primed and painted, cut and glued in place, caulked to hide the gap between the surface and molding, followed by a finish coat of paint. This process of molding application could go as follows:

1. Prepare the doors and drawer fronts before attaching moldings. Get advice from a paint store on sanding and priming your laminate cabinets, but in general a primer mixed with a bonding agent may be a good solution.

2. Prime and paint all molding pieces. Measure, cut, and attach molding strips to doors with adhesive and nails (if using heavy trim pieces).

3. Caulk the gaps.

4. Finish with one or two coats of paint.

TIP: Often paint won't stick well to laminate, so be sure to ask a paint professional or at a home center about the proper paint and process for the exact type of laminate used on your cabinets. You may decide that the end result doesn't warrant the cost and work involved.

If moldings don't appeal to you, it may be better to install new doors. Cabinet refacing will cost less than new cabinets, take less time to install, and revive usable cabinet boxes. Plus, with plenty of door options available, you don't have to sacrifice style.


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