How To Add Height to Kitchen Cabinets – A DIY Tutorial.
I may have mentioned once or twice — or ten plus times — that I was born and raised in New Jersey. Northern New Jersey, to be specific. In a town filled with malls. In the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s.
And I’ll freely admit I fell victim to the fashion trends of the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s. I sported bell bottoms and culottes and pants suits and crocheted vests and go go boots in the 60’s and 70’s. But the 80’s? Oh the 80’s …
… when everything got bigger. And shinier. And tighter.
And I was in. ALL IN. The hair and the nails doubled in size, while the pieces in my wardrobe grew smaller and tighter.
As I’ve aged, I let go of most of the 60’s and 70’s styles (though I do love a mini dress with a go go boot), but the worst of the 80’s stuck with me. The bigger part, that is. My hair isn’t done unless it has a bit of lift. And hairspray.
So it should come as no surprise I felt my kitchen cabinet tops needed a bit of lift too. Some added height. A tease and a spray of Stiff Stuff, if you will. 🙂
I’ve been dreaming of extending the height of our kitchen cabinets ever since I stumbled across this tutorial. But I kept putting it off and putting it off. Mostly because I doubted my skill level.
I knew I could never master the crown moulding miter cuts that would be needed. So my plan was to remove and reuse the existing crown.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Which is also wrong. Because it really was much easier than I thought. The biggest problem was my fear. I was paralyzed by it. I was worried I would split the wood. Damage the cabinets. Leave my kitchen in much worse shape than I started. And then I would have to scramble to hire someone to come in and fix my mess.
Luckily, that didn’t happen!
But enough about me and my big hair and go go boots and fears of splitting wood. On with the tutorial …
How To Add Height To Kitchen Cabinets
Step 1: Remove Existing Crown Moulding
After wasting an hour or so looking for my crowbar (which I never found, by the way) I decided to just have at it with my 5-in-1 and a spackling thingy tools.
From top-to-bottom, left-to-right:
(1) I used my 5-in-1 tool to scrape away at the old caulk around the moulding;
(2) I simply inserted the tool between the moulding and the top of the cabinet and gently pried the moulding off working my way slowly down along the cabinet tops (luckily no wood glue was used and it was just thin finish nails holding it in place);
(3) With my needle nose pliers, I pulled out the finish nails;
(4) I used the 5-in-1 tool to scrape off the old caulk.
(5) Not pictured: I finished it all off with sandpaper to removed the remainder of the caulk.
Step 2: Lumber & Trim Moulding
The first decision was how much height to add. I didn’t want to go too high. But I didn’t want it wimpy either. In the end I went with 6″ and settled on a primed pine boards. But before going to the home improvement store, I measured out all my cuts (not once, not twice, but thrice) and created a diagram of the cabinets tops on a piece of paper. After I pried off the moulding, I went back and quadruple checked and then headed off to the home improvement store. With my trusty diagram in hand, the nice young gentlemen at the store made all my cuts for me.
I also picked up some trim moulding to cover the seam where the boards would sit on top of the cabinets. This small piece with a flat back was the perfect size. I didn’t have cuts made at the store since I knew I could handle it with my handy dandy miter box.
Step 3: Attaching the Boards
I started by adding some scrap wood blocks to the inside backs of the cabinets using construction adhesive. I didn’t glue and/or nail the boards into them, but they served to help balance the boards.
I was also very concerned about these odd angles …
especially since I didn’t have the tools needed to make those cuts. Turns out, no cuts were needed. See …
I was able to just butt two boards up against each other. So simple! And you can’t tell from the front.
To attach all the boards I used an instant grab construction adhesive.
It offered flexibility to get the boards in place, and then hardened in 24 hours.
Painter’s tape held everything in place while it dried overnight.
Step 4: Adding Trim & Crown Moulding
for the trim pieces, I used my little miter box and saw for the cuts. The outer edges were pretty straightforward. Those odd inner angles took a few tries (luckily I had an extra strip of moulding to play around with). Any errors I figured could be covered up with caulk. All pieces were attached using the Loctite.
We then simply reattached the old crown that we pried off. Again, I used the Loctite and painter’s tape to hold it in place. However, I did add a few balsa wood trim pieces to help carry the weight (see below).
I even used a temporary piece in the middle of that huge piece of moulding.
And, yes, my kitchen was a disaster area for a few weeks during this process.
Step 5: Caulk, Prime & Paint
This is pretty straightforward. I caulked along the crown moulding and seams. And then gave it one coat of primer and two coats of my cabinet paint (an alkyd paint matched to Clark+Kensington in Chalk).
In the end, it was much easier than I thought.
And now let’s hope my 80’s style bigger cabinet tops don’t go out of style anytime soon! 🙂
You can find the full kitchen reveal by clicking here …
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