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Caring for Your Cabinets

KarstFull-View-HRCabinets and built-ins can represent a substantial investment as part of your home. Here are a few tips to preserve that added value and delay the need for refinishing or replacement.


1. Mind the gaps

  • Are doors and drawer fronts rubbing or bumping into each other? These are adjustable. Maintain those gaps. It can be as simple as adjusting door hinges and drawer slides, or tightening loose screws. Once the finish is worn or damaged at the edges and corners, problems will start. More on this later.
  • When you see that the finish is suffering a bit, try touching up those spot areas. Your cabinet supplier or local paint store can help.

2. Cleanliness is next

  • Paint and wood finishes need to be cleaned regularly. Dried bits of food and beverage can severely damage the finish. Be careful with water-based finishes as some of the older cleaners can damage the finish, especially if ammonia or bleach is involved. Yeah Windex, I’m looking at you! A slightly damp cloth followed by a dry micro-fibre cloth is the safest. For stubborn areas, add dish soap to this cleaning regimen. Remember, wood hates water! Immediately dry any water.
  • Quartz counters can also be cleaned with water and a bit of dish soap if needed. Check with your quartz supplier about using more aggressive cleaners though. For example, diluted Simple Green can work very well as a de-greaser.

3. It all comes down to the edges

  • A design professor used to say “Look after the edges and they will look after you.” Good advice.
  • Most cabinets are made of fabricated panels that are edge banded, that is, a thin strip of wood or plastic is glued on the edge as protection. It looks good too. The issue is that an edge that is too thin offers virtually no protection from those inevitable little bumps and wear. The edges can shred and peel off.  You can prevent wholesale destruction by re-gluing the edges as soon as you notice an issue. Your hardware store can help you with finding the right glue.
  • Thicker edges are less of a problem. These edges offer more edge protection than those infernal skinny edge-tapes. Look for thick edge banding when you are contemplating a new purchase. The kitchen or built-in will last a lot longer.
  • How you work in your kitchen makes a big difference to its longevity. Take care to lift, not drag, heavy items in and out of your cabinets. Those things are rough on the edges. Here is where plenty of drawers help a lot. A short lift beats crawling around on your hands and knees dragging stuff out of your cabinets, right?

by Kevin Karst – kevinkarst.com