Hello! I’m Ana, a mother and homemaker from Alaska.
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posted by Ana White

I remember back when we used our Get Out of Jail Free card on the Momplex, and I dreaded receiving comments about hiring help and taking a step off from DIY.

But you totally suprised me.

Instead, many of you commented that a good DIYer knows when to DIY, and when to seek help.

The primary reason we hired out the drywall finishing is tool investment.  In order to tool up to do two homes worth of drywall, we'd be into it about as much as the cost of hiring the job out. And both the Ram and I are carpenters at heart, with no desire to go into the drywall finishing biz, so it just made sense to let a contractor take on the mud and tape.

So fast forward a few months, and we are almost finished with one side of the Momplex.  And it's time to start thinking about kitchen cabinet doors.

Originally, we had intended to DIY the doors for the Momplex kitchen ourselves.  We certainly can and do make wood doors, and enjoy making doors, and would love to invest in door making tools.  ANY tool that makes sawdust is something I would love to have.

But in the end, we opted to order doors.  And here's why:

1. Mom wanted a raised panel kitchen cabinet door.  To do make a 20 some raised panel kitchen cabinet doors, we would need some very expensive tools.  And for ever different door style we choose in the future, we'd be back to ordering more bits and tools (that aren't cheap).

2. There are 21 doors in this Momplex kitchen.  If it had been just a couple of doors, I'd have been game.  But making 21 doors all perfectly matched would have been a huge task and very time consuming.

3. The doors are what you see in a kitchen.  If you have a screw hole to hide on a carcass or a rogue knot on a face frame, it all gets covered by the doors.  And we are doing full overlay doors.  The margin for error is very small because the doors are right next to each other and the human eye could easily make out any discrepancy in door sizes. Quality in kitchen cabinet doors is very important.

4. Up here in Alaska, hardwood isn't cheap.  We figured that we'd only be saving a few hundred dollars (not counting cost of tools) by DIYing with raw materials vs buying doors.  Door companies can buy hardwood in bulk at a much lower cost, and that savings is passed on to you.

5. Being preggers at the time, and not able to work to full capacity, in order to get Mom moved in to the Momplex by the Holidays, we knew we'd have to take some shortcuts to make this goal happen.

And let me tell you .... after so many years of never buying anything made of wood - of only buying raw wood and making things from it, I had some very mixed emotions about opening this package ....

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Trust issues ... jealousy issues ... personal insecurities ...

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

But when I opened up that cardboard container, and saw this inside, that all changed.

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

We had definitely made the right decision to order kitchen cabinet doors.

The doors were the most beautiful doors I had ever seen!!!  I sat there for a long time, just admiring them.

We ordered these doors from Cabinet Now (no relationship or sponsorship), paying by the square foot for the door (prices vary by species and design).  I can tell you this - we priced out a similar door at a big name cabinet company, and it was four times as much.  The design we ordered is called Burgundy.

Now comes the really hard part.  

Painting these beautiful doors!

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Grace helped us cover the floor in one of the Momplex bonus rooms with painter's paper. The walls are just primed, so a little overspray won't hurt.

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

I don't envy the guy that has to paint these beautiful doors ....

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

The Ram sprayed the doors with primer and paint. No sanding was required because the doors come pre-sanded.

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Too late to turn back now, but I definitely was feeling painter's remorse here.

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

All that's left now is waiting for the paint to dry,

Kitchen Cabinet Doors

And hanging those doors on the cabinets.

Here's a peek at what they look like hung:

Can you believe that we just took those doors out of a box and painted them, no sanding at all???  I'm still shocked!

So what do you think? Right decision to order doors? Or should we have gone the DIY route?

posted by Ana White

Whether you buy kitchen cabinets or you DIY them yourself (I'm totally on team DIY here!) I think the biggest difference maker in how professional looking your kitchen cabinet ends up appearing is in the tiny little details.  In other words, after you hang your cabinets, you aren't done quite yet.

After installing all the kitchen cabinets for the Momplex Vanilla Kitchen, there's a few little things that will make a big difference to take care of.

The most obvious one is finish installing the flooring.

We opted not to install flooring under the cabinets for two reason.  1 - the flooring we are using is a floating floor, and needs room to expand and contract, and is not recommended to be installed under cabinets and 2 - if we ever wanted to change out flooring (I hope not - it's got a lifetime residential warranty!) it would be relatively easy to do.  

One reason we might have to at some point replacing flooring in the kitchen is possible water damage from perhaps a flooded dishwasher.  It's good to keep options open.  You just never know.

We decided to keep the flooring the same throughout the entire upstairs to make it easy to sweep and clean, and also to make the space appear continuous and larger.  It just scores and snaps.

There's a few tricky cuts around the dishwasher end panel on the first row, but once we got started,

Things moved pretty fast.

On the other side of the kitchen, we floored inside the fridge cabinet

And then all the way into the range opening.

Since the flooring is to be installed with a small gap around outside edges to allow the flooring to expand and contract, we have to finish out the area between the base kitchen cabinets and the flooring.

This will also dress up the bottoms of the cabinets, and give us an opportunity to finish out the toekick in a material that matches the face frames.

We take measurements,

And then use 1/2" plywood strips (we used birch primed and painted to match the face frames) as toekicks,

Just nailing in place with our most favorite tool ever.

Since there is no toekick around the fridge cabinet, we finished off this seam with discreet quarter round moulding - although base moulding would have looked great too.

And we did the same with the dishwasher end panel.

One thing - when you do your dishwasher end panel, keep the outside edges flush so it's easy to add base trim.  If we'd centered the 1x2 on the plywood panel, we'd have had to do some really tiny, annoying miter cuts to get around the 1x2.

So that's the bases finished out (except for doors and drawers - coming soon!)

Now on to the wall cabinets ...

We used prefinished PureBond Plywood (special order about $70 a sheet) for the carcasses.  The face frames are painted because that's all you'll see (after we add doors) from the front.  But there are a few spots on the ends that we'll need to finish out to match the face frames.  

 

Since the face frames overextend the sides of the cabinets by 1/4" (this is done so the cabinets will line up square at the face frame, regardless of how square the carcass or walls are) we can just take 1/4" birch plywood and prime and paint it to match the face frames,

And glue and tack it on over the ends to finish out the ends.

You'd never know from the outside that we cheated and used prefinished plywood on the inside now!

Forgive my laziness .... I just really dislike reaching inside cabinets and painting them ... especially huge corner lazy susans ...

Since the microhood will no longer sit 6" below the wall cabinets, we also took a second to finish out the cabinets around the microhood with 1/4" painted plywood pieces.

Ready for the microhood now!

Can you see what a big difference the little details make?  Someone visiting the Momplex commented that "everything just feels very high quality and well done" in here - I tell you, it's the little things!

And that's the great thing about DIY - you don't have to special order matching toekick, crown moulding, or end panels to match a proprietary finish - you really have all the power in your own hands to finish out your project as you like!

Next up, we'll be DIYing a countertop!

Thanks for reading and following along!

XO Ana + Fam

PS - There's a party going on tonight - hope to see you there!

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