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Installing New Countertops on Old Cabinets: Is It a Good Idea?

When redesigning your kitchen, you may want to keep parts of it as usual while changing other components. For example, you may want to put new countertops on old cabinets. However, would that work out for long-term kitchen care and management, or should you expect problems to arise?

Kitchen Concepts provides industry-leading kitchen remodel services in Danville, CA, and the nearby communities. Our experts have up-to-date licensing and insurance, always continuing our education to provide increasingly beneficial and professional installation services. Read more to learn if you can put new countertops on preexisting cabinets or if you need to overhaul everything about your cabinetry.

Why You May Consider Keeping Your Cabinets

Since you’re overhauling your countertops, why not replace the whole cabinet? After all, if you don’t like the current layout of your kitchen, now would be the perfect time to act. In truth, many homeowners would like to do so, but anything from budget restrictions to customization costs may lead you to think otherwise.

For example, if your current cabinets came from a custom cabinet producer, then they likely suit your needs and aesthetics. Any lazy susans or additional inner workings would need reinstalling or updating if you replace the whole cabinet, costing more money. The only issue may come from the countertop, which wears down faster than the overall cabinetry. 

Over time, citric acid, heat exposure, and other common kitchen occurrences and substances degrade the quality of even the best-kept countertop. Whether you value cost-effectiveness or love your current cabinets, keeping the cabinetry would seem like a good idea.

How to Make New Countertops Possible

As it turns out, you can put new countertops on old cabinets, but you will likely need expert assistance for any countertop replacement. Attempting otherwise could lead to countertop and cabinet damage or cause issues with nearby appliances from faulty removal or installation. Professional contractors and designers should consider various aspects of your kitchen before they begin removing the countertops:

#1. Material Type

The removal process differs depending on the type of countertops you had before, which may also affect the installation process. For instance, installers screw laminate countertops into place, making them easier to remove for any follow-up services. 

Other materials, like marble and granite, can prove to be more difficult to remove. Many countertop fabricators use silicone caulk to secure more extensive or expensive countertops in place. 

A professional contractor can inspect your counters and determine which method the previous installers used in your kitchen. They should also have methods to remove the previous counters with as little damage to your cabinets as possible.

#2. Cabinet Condition

Depending on the age and material of your cabinets, you may benefit from a replacement rather than trying to install new countertops on old cabinets. The cabinets should be strong enough to support the weight of whatever countertop material you choose. Heavier materials, like quartz, polished concrete, or marble, need hardy support from the cabinets below them.

Cabinetry weakens over time, generally needing a replacement every 15 years or so. You may need a replacement earlier if the cabinets have any water damage or suffer from pest decay. They would not be strong enough to hold up new materials and may even collapse under the weight of lighter, less expensive ones.

#3. Floor Strength

In addition to your cabinets, you should consider how much your floor can withstand. All parts of any house degrade over time, with certain types of damage causing them to weaken faster. If you have water damage or poor subfloor conditions, it may hold up the extra weight of a new countertop. 

If so, the floor could dent, crack, or even collapse, depending on the type of flooring material. You generally can worry less about floor conditions if you use linoleum or other sheet kitchen flooring. Tiles, wood, and other elevated flooring materials may need additional consideration.

#4. Appliance Accommodations

At this point, a good chunk of kitchens have an embedded kitchen sink, so the previous countertops needed holes to accommodate them. You may also need to change your sink at the same time as the counters. 

If so, consider choosing your sink first since that would affect the faucet configuration. It would also determine how the fabricators should cut the countertop materials you want so they have the right openings for your sink.

Otherwise, you could try pre-cut countertops and find a sink that fits the cuts. This process can make finding the right sink more difficult, but it often proves less expensive and more cost-effective. Of course, it depends on how attached you are to your sink.

#5. Aesthetic Integration

How well do your ideal countertops blend in with other aspects of your kitchen? Some material or color pairings can look off-putting or fail to fit the aesthetic you have in mind. Putting new countertops on old cabinets could create a mix-matched quality in the kitchen.

As another example, let’s say you have a red brick backsplash that has been your absolute favorite for years, and you don’t want to change it. Would green marble vinyl fit in with the mood of the room, or would it clash? Perhaps you’d appreciate gray porcelain or white quartz for better material compatibility instead.

Feel free to consult with an expert designer to help you visualize the end goal of your kitchen redesign!

Can You Keep Your Sink?

Do you think your sink works fine and want to keep it? It may be possible, but as with all other parts of the installation, you need to look closely.

Kitchen sinks generally come in two forms: under-mount and drop-in. Under-mount sinks have no rim between themselves and the counter. Installers place the sink under the countertop directly, so replacing old counters with an under-mount sink can prove difficult.

Drop-in sinks, as the name implies, drop neatly into a pre-cut countertop hole. The sink’s rim rests on the counter, making it much easier to install and replace without sink or countertop damage.

You should also review your sink’s condition. Older, rusty sinks need to be replaced, whereas sinks in good condition could possibly stay. If you want to keep a good-quality under-mount sink, you will need expert help to reduce the potential for cabinet, counter, and sink damage.

The Pros and Cons of Replacing Cabinets

While you can install new countertops on old cabinets, you may get more benefits out of a replacement. We’ve mentioned a few potential setbacks for cabinet replacement, like installation costs and a potential loss of convenient or disability-accommodating custom adjustments. However, remember to evaluate whether the pros outweigh the cons.

As noted, updated cabinetry could be sturdier and able to support your new countertops more easily. You could also get rid of older, damaged cabinets if you have not replaced them in a while. 

Custom cabinetry has become easier and more affordable with new technological advancements. If you have aspects in your current cabinets you want to keep, a top-quality fabricator could replicate them with newer, hardier materials. 

Get New Countertops in Danville, CA

Whether you want to install new countertops on old cabinets or want a completely new setup, Kitchen Concepts can help. Our team of expert designers and contractors aid Californian citizens in building the kitchens of their dreams. All team members working on any property have California-approved and updated licensing and insurance to cover any work we do.

You don’t need to worry about countertop edges or handling backsplash redesigns on your own. Call Kitchen Concepts at (925) 915-3307 or visit our contact page to schedule your initial consultation today!

Tyler Fraser

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