Cabinet Hardware: An Inexpensive Makeover for Your Home

Many years ago homes would go decades with the same cabinetry and certainly the same cabinet hardware. My how times have changed.

Today, new kitchen cabinets, counters and even a whole new layout for the space can make an old home seem brand new, not only increasing its value (when home prices do rebound), but functionality.

Older kitchens certainly weren’t made for the way we cook today. There weren’t microwaves, convection ovens, coffee and espresso makers and toaster ovens like there are now to crowd once spacious counters. And cabinets are overflowing with foodstuffs, glassware and dishes.

It you’re remodeling your kitchen, cabinet hardware is an entirely different decision you’ll have to make. Most cabinets either come with very basic hardware or none at all, leaving you on your own to find cabinet hardware that matches your décor and your personal tastes and style.

Luckily, manufacturers have been more than happy to fill the void out there with an endless variety of cabinet hardware, from pulls and knobs to door catches, hinges and backplates. If you’re a cabinet hardware novice, here are some of the basics.

Knobs and pulls. These are the easiest pieces of hardware to identify, as they allow you to open your doors and drawers with ease. However, you still have to decide whether pulls, knobs or a mix of the two are best and then figure out the style, design and finish.

Hinges. Out of sight and usually out of mind, you may want to change these out if they have any visible parts to them, as they should match the other cabinet hardware you’ve selected. If you have invisible hinges, you may not need to worry about replacing them.

Backplates. Grimy hands can stain and mar the fronts of your expensive cabinets and drawers. Backplates go between the knob or pull and the wood facing, adding an additional layer of protection. If you use backplates you’ll need to factor in their thickness when deciding how long the screw needs to be for each knob or pull.

Drawer slides. These are the runners that allow your drawers to open easily. You probably don’t need to worry about replacing these until they wear out, unless you really want to have the perfect kitchen where all the cabinet hardware matches exactly.

As you start your search for cabinet hardware you’ll be overwhelmed by choice. There are literally thousands upon thousands of options, not only in a specific style or shape, but in finishes. You can choose to go with a standard design or even get custom ones. For example, you can accent a country kitchen with western themed pulls, knobs and backplates or add a nautical flair to the kitchen with cabinet hardware that looks like starfish, shells and sea life.

If you’re a bit overwhelmed, you may want to start online in your search. Many online retailers offer cabinet hardware that is not only very stylish, but won’t be found in your local home improvement store. That’s because these retailers don’t have to cater to a one-size-fits-most approach to retailing and choose a handful of designs that everyone may like, or at least be able to settle on. Online retailers can work with smaller manufacturers to secure harder to find designs that will really give your kitchen a unique look that can’t be found anywhere else.

If you are planning to change out your hardware, take the time to decide on designs that won’t look tired or boring after a couple years. One of the best ways to avoid making a purchasing mistake is to select your favorites, install them on your cabinets and live them with a while, deciding which ones are perfect for you. This will not only save you time and money, but a lot of regret.

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What Color to Change Cabinet Hardware Door Knobs to Remodel

So you’ve decided to do a little bit of light kitchen remodeling. Before you get in too deep you’ll need to know what color to change cabinet hardware door knobs to remodel. It really isn’t that hard a choice. You’ll be able to pick out just what is right for your cabinets with a few quick pointers. What color you choose will depend on the following factors: Make, Material, Size and Shape. These 4 elements can help you narrow down your cabinet hardware choices to just a couple choices.

• Make: Are the cabinets custom, prefab or industrial? Believe or not this makes a huge difference. You’ll want cabinet hardware that matches the make. You don’t want to go putting cheap run of the mill hardware on a hand built custom door. It will detract from it. Likewise large ornate hardware will draw negative attention to a more budget oriented set of cabinets.

• Material: What’s the cabinet made out of? Do you have an old timey enameled set of cabinets? Well if you do then you’ll want to match that up with an enameled set of knobs. Look for ones that have a bright contrasting color to that of the cabinet. Stained glass cabinets will work with a bright white porcelain knob. The clean lines are unostentatious and won’t detract from the intricate stained glass. Wood cabinets are the most common so if you have those, you might be able to eliminate the porcelain and white knobs. Unfortunately since they’re the most common it won’t help you eliminate that many choices. If the wood is kept to a natural color though you’ll probably want to go with a matched color knob or black ironwork.

• Size: Cabinets are like a canvas. The bigger they are the larger an area you need to decorate. If you’re dealing with massive oversized oak full length cabinets then you’ll want to match them up with larger hardware. Small dainty cabinets will work well with a small dainty knob. It’s all pretty intuitive. You’ll be able to eyeball the cabinet size and choose based on it. If you misjudge the size it will throw off the entire cabinet look.

• Shape: Are the cabinets long and narrow, fat and wide or symmetrical? Long narrow cabinets will need long narrow handles installed vertically. Fat and wide cabinets will work with a single knob or horizontally mounted hardware. Symmetrical cabinets can work with any of the choices. The main choice here is to let your eyes sweep across the cabinet without focusing only on the hardware.

Make, material size and shape are all important factors to consider when choosing what color to change cabinet hardware door knobs to remodel. Each one of those variables can help pare down the multitude of options available. It all comes down to what will work best for your cabinet hardware. Bright and shiny, or understated all work in the appropriate atmosphere. Just bring a picture of the cabinets with you when shopping and you’ll be able to narrow your choices down to just a few. Pick up a couple test pieces and bring them home to get that perfect look.

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Quick Tips to Create a Unique Kitchen With Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

With so many kitchen cabinet hardware options, it can be a daunting task to find the perfect cabinet knobs, cabinet pulls, and other hardware items for the home. What’s more, many homeowners want to go a step beyond average, to create a unique and memorable home environment. These four cabinet hardware tips will help you navigate the diverse options and help in the creation of a truly unique kitchen decor.

1. Say it with Color: One of the best ways to make your kitchen stand out is to use color in unexpected ways. For instance, Liberty Hardware provides a great collection of bright and whimsical painted cabinet knobs that will certainly make a statement in the kitchen. Rather than purchasing standard metal finishes, try ceramic painted knobs or two-toned cabinet handles. When choosing color schemes, consider your existing kitchen décor. For instance, if your counters and cabinets are warm tones, you may want to choose colors such as red or orange, while cooler tones will look best with greens and blues. Multi-colored cabinet knobs are another fun option, especially against plain or dark backgrounds.

2. Try Unexpected Materials: Most kitchen cabinet hardware is available in metal materials and finishes, such as pewter and stainless steel. There are other, more distinctive, options available, such as Liberty’s glass cabinet handles, or Berenson’s wood cabinet handles. Another idea is to use materials that are not traditionally matched with your existing décor, so as to create interesting aesthetic dissonance. For instance, chrome finishes are often matched with modern looks and styles. Instead, you could try chrome cabinet knobs against a more traditional or country-style kitchen for a bit of unconventional flair.

3. Use Shapes & Designs: Cabinet pulls and knobs come in a variety of different shapes, styles, and sizes, but some are more unique than others. As you shop, be sure to browse some of the more whimsical designs, such as animal shapes, birdcage knobs and more. Let your personality and interests shine through your cabinet hardware by adding these types of memorable elements to your home. Manufacturers like Anne at Home Hardware, Liberty Hardware, and many others provide themed cabinet knobs. Even a starfish or horse cabinet pull can look stylish and sophisticated, especially when finished in a refined material such as pewter.

4. Mix & Match: Don’t be afraid to try out a variety cabinet knobs and cabinet handles in different places around your home, or even in the same room. With so much discount cabinet hardware from which to choose, you don’t have to settle for just one look. Many modern and unique kitchens use an array of kitchen cabinet hardware designs and materials, so as to add diversity and fun to the home environment. For instance, try alternating round and square cabinet knobs, or even knobs and handles around the kitchen. Try to keep at least one element constant, such as the finish or shape. For example, if you are varying the shapes, use a common finish, and visa-versa. This can help maintain continuity, and prevents your kitchen from appearing cluttered.

One of the dangers in creating a unique décor for your home is the possibility of going overboard. Use these tips as inspiration for memorable designs, but be sure to keep your overall look in mind as you plan out your purchases. Take advantage of the large selection offered by leading manufacturers such as Liberty, Amerock, Alno and others. Remember to think ahead before committing to any specific purchase, as design tastes often change with time. Finally, enjoy your new, unique kitchen look!

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Save Money on Electricity With LED Lights

It should come as no surprise that electricity and energy in general are projected to become more expensive in the coming years. Traditional sources of power like coal and oil are getting more expensive to procure, and the environmental costs of fossil fuels make them politically unpopular. While installing solar panels is definitely a great long-term plan for reducing your dependence on fossil fuels and saving money, an equally powerful way to trim energy costs is to use LED lighting at home. LED light bulbs are quickly becoming the preferred way to save money on electricity bills.

Why You Should Switch To LED Lighting

Many people are already familiar with the benefits of using CFL or compact fluorescent light bulbs at home to reduce energy usage. A 13W CFL bulb provides the same illumination as a traditional 60W incandescent bulb, and can last up to 10,000 hours. LED lighting is even more energy efficient, thanks to models that use anywhere from 3 to 16 watts depending on the size of the bulb. LEDs are generally good for up to 25,000 hours, and maintain their brightness over the lifetime of the bulb for the most part.

Making The Change

Switching over to LED lighting is quite easy and straightforward for most people. Many LED light bulbs use the same E27 and GU10 sockets that incandescent bulbs do, so all you’ll have to do for the most part is simply screw or fit them into an existing fixture. Whether you’re moving interior lighting or exterior lighting from incandescent to LED, you’ll find that the hardware itself uses the same socket types in most cases.

LED Applications at Work and at Home

One of the biggest benefits of LED bulbs is that they can be used practically anywhere and replace nearly every kind of traditional incandescent bulb you’re currently using. They’re perfect for under-cabinet lighting, overhead office lighting, garden grow lights, exterior house lamps, and more. The best way to get the most out of LED lamps is to use them in areas where secondary or overhead illumination is needed. They cost a bit more than CFLs, so you’ll want to make sure they last awhile. Reserve CFLs for areas where you’d traditionally use incandescent bulbs for direct lighting, such as at a desk.

How To Buy LEDs

LEDs have become so omnipresent in the marketplace that they can be found practically anywhere that traditional incandescent bulbs and CFLs are sold. Amazon and Home Depot are always viable options, and such major retailers typically offer the best price. If you’re a serious bargain hunter, you’ll want to do some additional research online to find the best deals for buying in bulk or for specific models. Whatever you do, make sure that the bulbs you buy are ENERGY STAR qualified LED lights to ensure that you get the utmost quality and value.

Final Thoughts

While LED lights will cost you a bit more upfront, you’ll realize significant savings over time in terms of electricity costs. If you decide to perform a full overhaul of your home or office’s lighting inventory and commit to using LEDs, you’ll see an immediate reduction in utility bills. Furthermore, you won’t have to spend as much time or money buying and stocking replacement incandescent lamps that burn out more quickly. LED light bulbs are an investment, but they’re one that makes prudent fiscal sense when you look at the big picture.

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Do-It-Yourself Cabinet Painting: Tips From the Pros

Painted cabinets have become very popular. Many homeowners have outdated golden and pickled oak cabinets that they want to get rid of and painting them sounds like an easy solution. In general, painting isn’t hard, however to achieve a showroom like finish is hard.

It is very difficult to achieve a quality painted finish on oak cabinetry due to the soft grain and open pores unique to oak, not to mention the tannin (orange, green and brown stains) that lifts to the surface when waterborne finishes are used, which then requires the use of solvent-based sealers. If the oak has a high tannin level, it can be very difficult to eliminate the problem, even with solvent-based primers. Therefore, when painting oak cabinetry, consider selecting darker colors such as browns, espresso and black rather than lighter colors, such as white. Darker colors do a good job of hiding the soft grain, open pores and tannin stains and allows you to avoid solvent-based sealers. If possible, before beginning the project, make a sample using an old door or the back of a drawer front to ensure that you are satisfied with the end result.

Most of today’s higher-end painted cabinetry, especially lighter painted finishes such as white, is on maple or birch. Maple and birch have similar density (hardness) levels and are free of the issues found in oak and can provide an ultra smooth finish if properly applied. If your cabinets are maple or birch, you should achieve a better result than oak cabinets, regardless of the color used.

Applying a coat of paint to any surface will make it look better for a while, but how long will the new appearance and finish hold up? To enhance the longevity of the cabinet’s appearance and finish selecting quality finishes is essential. Today, many paints are all-in-one finishes (primer and paint combined). While these are good for general use, we use a separate primer-sealer and topcoat for our painted cabinet applications.

With all painted cabinetry, particularly maple cabinets, the primer-sealer or basecoat is the most important component to enhance the finish’s durability and water and chip resistance, common problems found in painted finishes. We have used many different primer-sealers and found Stix, a Benjamin Moore product, to be among the best. Stix is a premium environmentally friendly, waterborne acrylic urethane, bonding primer-sealer with excellent adhesion, even on glossy surfaces such as glass and tile. Stix creates an extremely hard finish that can be topcoated with many products. After thoroughly cleaning and abrading the doors and drawer fronts, we apply a minimum of two coats of Stix, hand sanding between each coat, followed by a minimum of two topcoats of pigmented (tinted) catalyzed lacquer. Stix can also be tinted to closely match the targeted color, while the pigmented lacquer topcoat is a custom color match. An alternative to solvent-based topcoats is Rustoleum’s Beyond, a premium environmentally friendly, waterborne acrylic enamel that provides a hard, water and chip resistant finish that can be cleaned after it has fully cured, unlike less expensive finishes. As a general rule, when buying finishes for painting cabinetry, more expensive, specialized finishes are generally the best products to use. I recommend always consulting with your local paint dealer.

The next step is to choose the application method: brushed, rolled or sprayed. The application method should, in part, be based on your desired result, as well as the value of the cabinets. If the value is low, then any of the three methods is acceptable. However, if the value is high, or if you don’t have the budget to replace or fix them if the project doesn’t go well, you should then consider renting or investing in a good sprayer.

Spraying is the best method for applying finishes to wood surfaces, especially cabinetry. It is nearly impossible to avoid dust and other debris from contaminating the finish, especially using brushed and rolled on applications. It is even harder to avoid contaminates in lighter finishes, such as whites. However, if applied correctly, spraying can provide a look consistent with new painted cabinetry. There are many sprayers on the market that will a provide a good result, but to purchase a unit (gun, hose and compressor) with enough power to effectively spray thicker paints, expect to pay at least $500. For novices, high volume low pressure (HVLP) sprayers are easy to use. Fuji has a complete line of HVLP sprayers with prices starting at $400; however, I have never used FUJI sprayers. Wagner also carries entry-level sprayers, the 2600 and 2900 models, which I have used and can be purchased for $500 to $600; however, they are not currently available on Amazon. For $900 to $1,300, you can step up to the Graco FinishPro series sprayers. I have had good success with Graco sprayers and they are readily available.

Now that you have selected your finish and application method, it’s time to begin the finishing process. Many painting contractors and homeowners like to paint the cabinets in place (not removing the doors and drawer fronts from the cabinet frames). Another method is to pre-number and remove the doors, drawer fronts and trim for refinishing off-site (finishing facility or garage). Finishing the cabinets in place is a faster approach, while off-site finishing yields the best results. Off-site finishing also allows for quick preparation (cleaning and abrading) and a smooth, run-free finish.

Following are the general steps that we take when applying painted finishes to older cabinetry. To avoid being overwhelmed, larger projects can be broken into smaller, manageable projects:

1) Pre-number and remove the cabinet doors and door fronts (trim and panels also, if possible);

2) Remove all cabinet hardware; this is a good time to clean, paint or replace the current hardware including the exterior screws;

3) Thoroughly clean the cabinet doors, drawer fronts and trim; for painted applications, we use TSP, mineral spirits or denatured alcohol and 3M 7447 Scotch-Brite Maroon hand scrubbing pads; please note that water will raise the wood grain, especially on oak; allow the cabinetry to thoroughly dry (at least 24 hours);

4) Thoroughly abrade (sand) the entire surface (fronts, backs, edges and recessed areas); an orbital sander will expedite the sanding of flat surfaces; use foam sanding pads for the edges and crevices; we use between 80 (maple and birch) and 120 (oak) grit sandpaper to ensure proper adhesion (please wear a dusk mask or respirator while sanding); remove the sanding dust with an air compressor or by hand with a microfiber cloth;

5) Fill gashes and other surface imperfections with wood filler and allow the filler to thoroughly dry and block sand until smooth;

6) Repeat Step 5) if the wood filler shrinks;

7) Apply the first coat of bonding primer-sealer (the first coat should be the thinnest to ensure good adhesion; thin waterborne primer-sealers with water and solvent-based primer-sealers with mineral spirits; allow the doors and drawer fronts to dry completely; lightly hand sand the entire surface, including edges and crevices, until smooth with a 220 grit sanding pad or sandpaper (be careful to not over sand); complete the cabinet backs first; please note that the doors should remain on a flat surface during the entire refinishing process to avoid warping and never lean doors against walls over long periods of time;

8) Repeat Step 7) one to two times, until an appropriate primer-sealer build has been attained; a proper primer-sealer build is usually attained after 2 or 3 coats;

9) Apply the first topcoat; usually the first topcoat is the thickest because it is hand sanded until smooth with 320-grit sandpaper prior to a lighter second (final) coat and third coat (if needed); always complete the cabinet backs first;

10) Repeat Step 9) one to two times, until an appropriate topcoat build has been attained; a proper topcoat build is usually attained after 2 coats (3 coats if needed); please note that Steps 7) through 10) primarily relate to finishing the cabinet fronts; generally, cabinet backs only require 2 primer-sealer coats and 1 heavy topcoat;

11) Allow the doors and drawer fronts to properly cure after the final topcoat (usually 48 hours);

12) During the Step 11) curing period repeat steps 1) through 10) on the cabinet frames, panels and trim; when using spray equipment, properly mask off adjacent walls and floors and ensure the area is properly ventilated; box fans are an inexpensive alternative to professional ventilation equipment;

13) After the cabinet frames and panels are cured reinstall the refinished doors and drawer fronts; consider wearing latex gloves during re-installation as finishes take a month or longer to fully cure and are susceptible to fingerprints;

14) Enjoy your project!

Our final advice is to take your time. Painting cabinets is a detailed process and takes a great deal of time to achieve a showroom like finish. Allocating adequate time to the project will show in the results. Good luck on your project. I hope the article helps.

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