Cabinet Makeover Plan and Budget

Cabinet with watermark



Kitchen cabinet with watermark


As I mentioned earlier, I always have multiple plans for a project, I call it a plan list. This approach allows me to know that there is an “out” if I need it. It allows me to progress through the project without the fear of complete failure. Hope is never lost, it may just be more expensive!

The cabinet project is no different. I was fairly confident I could achieve the asthetic I wanted with the trim application to the cabinet doors. For info on the trim, check out this article:        

I was also confident that the paint I chose would provide the coverage and durability that I needed. For info on the paint, check out this article:      

My doubts stemmed from the filling of the cabinet grooves on the upper cabinet doors. Here is a shot of what they looked like Cabinet with watermark


I knew that filling the grooves would be tricky. Having patched surfaces with wood filler and joint compound in the past, I knew that this step had the potential to be a deal breaker. When you fill a surface and sand it down, it may feel perfect to the hand. This perfection is often lost when primer and paint is applied to the surface. A paint with a sheen like satin or semi-gloss will allow elevation changes to be seen more clearly. I’m not 100% sure why this is: Is it an elevation change my hand couldn’t feel? Or, is it due to the product (joint compound or wood fill) absorbing the primer and paint at a different rate than the surrounding surface? Whatever the case I knew that this might be an issue. It was with this information that I formulated the plans for the cabinets.

First up, I had to choose a product to fill the grooves with. I knew that the grooves were only on the top cabinets. A vast majority of the grooves would be covered by the trim that I was going to apply. The only grooves that would be out of the trim field would be on the top ¼ of the upper cabinet doors, an area that rarely gets touched by hands, let alone man handled by my family (as most of us are petite just yet). My first thought was to use wood fill. It’s strong, hardy, and would work for this application. One problem, I find it difficult to work with. Like I said, I am not a pro, those people have it down. I have only a DIY experience. When the wood fill dries, it is just like wood, sanding it is just like sanding wood. I was fearful I might damage the surrounding door front while trying to get it smooth. It was because of this that I decided to use joint compound. I knew that it was an un-orthodox choice for this job, as it dries a bit softer than wood fill, but it is easier to use and easier to sand. 

Now I had the fill product, the paint and the trim design. It was time to formulate some plans and a budget. My Plan Lists normally progress from easiest/cheapest, to dear God, I don’t want to do that! Here is the plan list for the cabinet makeover:

  • Plan A:   Fill the grooves with joint compound, apply the trim pieces, prime and paint. The budget for this plan is $780. I know it seems like a lot but that budget is for all primer, paint, trim, tools and supplies to makeover 44 cabinet doors and 16 drawers.
  • Plan B:   Fill the grooves with joint compound, apply bead board wallpaper to the inside surface of the cabinet door (to mask any elevation issues), apply trim, prime and paint. This step would increase the budget by roughly $60
  • Plan C:   Fill the grooves with joint compound, apply veneer to the surface of the cabinet door (to mask any elevation issues), apply trim, prime and paint. This plan would increase the budget by roughly $250
  • Plan D:   Either construct new upper cabinet doors out of plywood or purchase new upper cabinet doors. This plan could increase the budget by at least $60 for the plywood. New cabinet doors (at $45 per piece) could cost at least $2,000 for this project.