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Installing Custom Appliance Door Panels

The methods for installing custom made refrigerator or dishwasher door panels, to match your kitchen doors, will vary from one appliance manufacturing company to the next. Usually the installation of the decorative doors is a one person job.


It is important to make sure that you order the trim kit for your appliance model.

Not all units will have a trim kit. Do not forget to inform your sales person that you want to have custom cabinet doors manufactured and installed to match your kitchen cupboards on the front of your dishwasher or refrigerator.

I’m going to share a few things I  learned during my 27 years of cabinetry installation.

  • Tip: All manufactures instruction suggests that the panel sizes that are supplied in the instructions  should be verified directly with the manufacture. Make sure to take the time to either double check the dimensions through your appliance company’s sales contact or call the supplier direct yourself. Do NOT avoid following through on this suggestion. These companies make the recommendations for a reason.

Dishwasher Door Panel Installation Tips
If you’re planning on having raised panel hardwood doors, made to match your kitchen, installed on the front of your dishwasher, you may have to order special door support springs. Because of the weight of the hardwood doors, the factory springs are usually not strong enough to carry the extra weight of the doors. The manufacture or appliance company should install the springs for you.

Installing Custom Door Panels on the Dishwasher

There are two panel locations that you will have to work with when installing the panels to match your kitchen doors on the dishwasher.

The lower (or, “small”) appliance factory panel is held on by a couple of screws; remove it completely from the dishwasher. The metal trim piece on the bottom or side should be removable. Once the trim is off of one side or the bottom, slide the new hardwood or plastic laminate door panel into position. Attach the trim piece and screw the unit back onto the face of the dishwasher.

The upper panel (or, “large”) trim kit piece gets removed from the side of the dishwasher door. Loosen the screws, remove the metal and slid the door panel into place. Put the metal strip back on and fasten it with the screw and your done installing the dishwasher door panels.

How to Install Refrigerator Custom Door Panels

Some refrigerator appliance models will have the custom door panel trim pieces screwed on already. These fasteners are always on the inside edge of the door. Sometimes there is a decorative magnetic strip that covers over the trim piece screws. Once the magnetic piece is removed the screws should be exposed and can then be removed. Take the trim kit piece off and insert the custom Formica or real wood door panel in the grooves. Fasten the trim back onto the inside edge and you’re done with the refrigerator door panel installation.

  • Tip: If you’re installing hardwood custom doors, always wipe the water off of the finish immediately when using the water dispenser. If the liquid is left on the faces, surely they will get ruined over the course of time.

Loose Panel
When you’re installing the new custom made appliance panels on to your refrigerator or dishwasher it’s important to use some type of shims behind the custom door panel pieces if they are smaller than the space. They must be tight to the front of the trim kit groves. It is not acceptable for there to be any rattling noise or considerable amount of movement in the appliance door panels. They must not be too loose and they cannot be too tight either. When you are finished the dishwasher or refrigerator custom made panels should fit just right.

Tight Panels
If the edges of the decorative doors are slightly too large for the grooves, DO NOT force the panel into the slot. Get the edges milled to the proper thickness and try to install the custom door panels at a later time.

Fabricating, ordering, designing and installing custom appliance door panels for your refrigerator, ice maker, or dishwasher should never be rushed. These are very expensive parts of the kitchen cabinet design that must be  made right the first time. This is why you must check and double check the panels throughout every process from start to finish. One slight error could cost you a lot of money in ordering and installing a replacement.

Categories: Installation Tips
  1. ellen
    November 14th, 2009 at 06:39 | #1

    when you apply a custom panel to a refrigerator do the sides of the doors get trim as well or would you see the original material of the door. i am asking because we are thinking of a cabinet depth refrig then adding a custom panel to match the cabinets. the door side is stainless and since it is visible it would look funny. so is there trim that goes on the sides as well. thanks

  2. admin
    November 15th, 2009 at 11:18 | #2

    There should be a trim kit attached to the refrigerator.

  3. shari
    November 23rd, 2009 at 10:10 | #3

    looking to have custome panels made for out dated refrig/ kitchemnaid model kss42qmxo 2004

  4. November 25th, 2009 at 12:12 | #4

    the panels from wellborn cab. for my new panel ready jenn-air french door/bottom freezer cab. depth fridge were ordered so that they would match the cab. next to them, in other words without the stainless trim piece, how do I install these not using the trim kit attached to the fridge doors. filler pieces came with each cab. door panel and no good instructions. Can’t seem to find any answers when talking to other people.

  5. Rose
    December 21st, 2009 at 11:37 | #5

    Hi I got my panels from HomeDepot and they don’t fit. I don’t know what to do either. If you get help, please let me know.

  6. admin
    April 15th, 2010 at 06:46 | #6

    Ellen, I’ve never seen a decorative door panel installed on a refrigerator without trim pieces on the sides.

  7. bill lynn
    April 22nd, 2010 at 16:26 | #7

    I have a amana refrigerator -side by side with water and ice dispenser=approx. 5 years old=it has a the trim capable to handle wood panels-where would I find wood panels to fit it-i called where I bought it and they said amana no longer makes their refrigerators-whirlpool does-there has to be some out there somewhere in a warehouse.

  8. admin
    April 23rd, 2010 at 15:04 | #8

    Hey Bill, a local cabinet manufacture can make some for you and finish them to match your existing cabinetry.

  9. Belin
    May 17th, 2010 at 10:19 | #9

    I purchased a Whirlpool 19.7 cu. ft. Bottom Freezer Refrigerator along with a trim-kit. I’m wondering if $425 is a fair price to pay for installation. Installation includes measuring and cutting panels out of plywood, painting them and attaching a door handle to match the knobs in my cabinets. Thank you in advance for your reply.

  10. admin
    May 17th, 2010 at 18:01 | #10

    There are many different factors that cabinet makers use to determine prices. Travel time, color matching, fabrication, overhead, materials and billing/collection. If your appliance door panel manufacture/installer is charging $65 to $80 per hour, which they should be, then I’d say they are in the ball park.

  11. Kitchen Cabinet Kit
    July 9th, 2010 at 07:26 | #11

    Thank you for the advice on installing custom door panels on various appliances, I’ll be sure to use it when updating my kitchen in the near future. When I originally renovated my kitchen I was shaky when it came to redoing my cabinets. However, the Kitchen Cabinet Kit sold KitchenCabinetDepot made the job not only easy but fun as well. I could not be happier with the results.

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