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Common Problems With Second Hand Kitchen Cabinets

December 10th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments
Fitting Cabinets is Like A Puzzle

Fitting old cabinets in new spaces is like building a puzzle.

Through the years we have installed many second hand parts and pieces of kitchen cabinets. There are a few things that repeatedly occur as being problem areas when people try to move a full set of cupboards from one location and make them fit somewhere else.

Every set of installed cupboards is generally fitted to the walls, floors and ceilings of the real property that they are attached to. Before a professional kitchen cabinet installer anchors the boxes into place, they are precisely fit to every little or big hump and bump. This means that the original perfectly straight edges of the cabinets get altered and are now squiggly and curved.

These tiny and large modifications create problems when an attempt is made to make secondhand cupboards fit in different places from where they were originally intended. A good finish carpenter or cupboard installer can usually make things work though.

Some of the most common problems are:

  • Dead corner cabinets are opposite of what they should be
  • Cupboard heights are not correct
  • Sink centers are different on the countertops
  • Cabinets where microwaves get installed over the range are not the right height
  • Water damaged sink cabinet bottoms
  • Loose edges on Thermofoil cabinet doors
  • Hood vent centers don’t match
  • Refrigerators will not fit
  • Original installation screw holes need to be filled
  • Doors are hinged on the wrong side, they are on the left instead of the right.
  • Cabinet knobs or handles are on the wrong side
  • Specialty door replacements are a different color or style
  • Loose or broken parts
  • Finished ends or sides of cabinets are in the wrong locations
  • Range locations are not the same
  • Pantry cabinets are the wrong height

If you are considering trying to make an older set of kitchen cabinets work in a location that they were not originally designed for, make sure that you hire a professional installer to handle the job. Without question, there will be cabinets that need to be altered and some new ones built. It’s actually a good idea to consult with an experienced cupboard designer before deciding to do the project.

It is a very rare occasion when a countertop from one house will work in a different one. You should plan on ordering a new one.

Now, if you are planning on adding an addition onto your home that will be the new kitchen area, then perhaps you can make a second-hand set of cabinets work. I’ve participated in designing and installing several projects like this. No matter what you do though, you will still need to make alterations to the existing secondhand cupboards to make the fit right.

Measuring the new set of “old” cabinets and the existing kitchen where they will be installed is a painstaking task. Every dimension of the cupboards needs to be documented. I usually draw a diagram of each cabinet and fill in the dimensions as I go along. DO NOT be in a hurry during this stage of the process. An eight of an inch (1/8) can make or break your design at times.

Here are the things you should measure on the cabinets:

  • Height
  • Width
  • Depth
  • Height of the toe base
  • Scribe filler sizes
  • Dead corner panels
  • Top scribe heights
  • Drawer face heights
  • Door heights

When you are ready to remove cabinets that are going to be reused, make sure that you handle them wit extra care. It’s a good idea to have am extra set of hands.

You can always install secondhand kitchen cupboards in a garage area without a lot of difficulty. The biggest challenge will be fastening them to the concrete (block) walls if your home is not frame-construction. Prior to saying “yes” to getting a second hand cupboard set, do your diligent research to ensure that they will work in your situation.

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