Economical Kitchen Cabinet Update

Carter Oosterhouse shows how to update a kitchen and save money by using premade cabinets.


Updating a kitchen with new cabinets can add lots of storage space. To save some money, try purchasing pre-made cabinets and customizing them to the existing look in your kitchen with matching doors, hardware and countertops. No one will ever know they weren’t there when you moved in.


pre-made cabinet
3/4-inch maple
brad nails
tiles that match your existing countertops
tile adhesive (mortar)
MDF (medium density fiberboard)
Euro hinges
Euro hinge jig
door hardware
3-inch cabinet screws
2-inch drywall screws
notched trowel
brad nailer
table saw


1. Purchase a pre-made cabinet and remove the doors and drawers if you'll be replacing them to match the rest of the kitchen.

2. Prime and paint the cabinets to match the color of the existing cabinets.

3. To build the sub-countertop, cut down the 3/4-inch maple so that it fits over the top of the cabinet with an overlay.

4. The new countertop should be the same height as the existing kitchen countertop. In this project, the sub-countertop needed to be 1-1/2 inch total thickness, or double the 3/4-inch maple. To save material, find scrap maple cutoffs and glue the pieces around the perimeter of the sub-countertop.


5. Follow up the glue with four nails on each cutoff edge.


6. Using the notched end of a trowel, spread the tile adhesive (or mortar) onto the sub-countertop in a fanning motion so the tile has ridges to cling to. Arrange the tiles in place and remember to cover the exposed edges.

7. Once the mortar is dry, grout the tiles to fill in any gaps. Set the countertop aside until needed.

8. Measure and cut down MDF so that it will fit nicely as the new doors and drawer fronts. Prime the doors.


10. With the euro hinge jig and a drill, create evenly-spaced holes in the MDF where the hinges will attach.

11. Paint the doors to match the existing doors. Attach the euro hinges once the paint dries.

13. Attach hardware to the doors and drawers. To save time and to prevent having to measure each individual piece, create a drilling jig, or template, where you will drill your holes.

14. Install the cabinet to the wall using 3-inch cabinet screws.


15. Place the new countertop on the cabinet and secure it into place with 2-inch drywall screws.

16. Install the new door with the corresponding side of the euro hinge. Attach the drawer fronts to the drawers and set them in place.

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