Top Tips for Switching Out Your Cabinet Hardware

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Maybe you've decided that it's time to update your kitchen. And then you became annoyed when you checked your bank account and realized that you may not have the budget for a major remodel. Since you can't purchase new appliances, install islands, or tear out old cabinets and counters, what can you afford to improve about your kitchen?

How about switching out the cabinet hardware like knobs, pulls, and handles?

Interior designers refer to cabinet hardware as the "jewelry for the kitchen." You can use new cabinet hardware to bring out the current style of your kitchen - or to accent whatever changes you wish to make throughout the updating process. But the best part about switching out cabinet hardware? The task can usually be completed in an afternoon.

Here are some suggestions for do-it-yourselfers who are thinking about changing their cabinet hardware:

1. Figure out how many pieces you will need.

This seems intuitive, but you'd be surprised how often homeowners miscalculate the number of knobs or handles they have in their kitchen. It's very common to forget about that one cabinet that is rarely used or those two drawers with junk in them.

2. If you're changing hardware styles, check the clearance.

So you want to go with handles instead of knobs (or vice-versa)? That's great. Just make sure that opening drawers or cabinets with the new hardware won't make marks on nearby surfaces. You may have to reposition the hardware accordingly.

3. Work with what you have (or will have).

Make sure that the cabinet hardware goes with at least one of the finishes in your kitchen. That's why it's important to know what changes to make to your overall kitchen before you select your new hardware. Knobs and pulls should accent your kitchen's look, not draw focus.

4. Feel free to mix and match - to a certain extent.

It's perfectly okay to pick hardware that goes with more than one element of your kitchen. You could choose knobs for cabinets that match your counter finish, and handles for drawers that accent your floor finish. However, you shouldn't mix hardware from different design collections.

5. Cover old holes the right way.

If you're switching hardware types, you may have to cover up old holes in the wood. Use wood filler instead of caulk, and smooth the surface with 150-grit sandpaper after it dries. Repeat the process if you still see the hole. Then prime the area before you paint over it.

6. Consider reusing cabinet holes.

In some case, you can use the hole from the existing hardware - even if you're switching from knobs to handles. On cabinets, you can place an off-center vertical handle and use the hole that the old knob was in.

Installing new cabinet hardware can result in a fresh new look for your kitchen without spending several hundred dollars or more. And any improvement made in the kitchen can boost the overall appearance and value of your home. But if you do make a change in your cabinet hardware, be sure to take the time and do it right. It's worth the extra effort!

Chris Martin is a freelance writer about topics ranging from consumer finance to home improvement to

online reputation protection.

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