How to Remove Old Cabinets
Removing old cabinets is a straightforward process anyone can do. It only requires a few common tools.
You’ll also want the help of a friend or two. You should always have help when you remove old cabinets. While you might be able to remove the base or floor cabinets on your own, you will definitely need help removing wall cabinets.
Before you get started, you should decide if you plan to reuse or donate all or some of the cabinets. If you do, you’ll want to take extra care as you go. You’ll also want to keep track of all the parts. Small plastic snack bags taped to the inside of the cabinet they belong to is a simple way to guarantee you, or whoever will get them, will have everything they need later.
Tools Needed to Remove Old Cabinets
• Screwdriver, Phillips-head and Slot-head (or Flat-head)
• Step stool
• Scrap 12”-18” pieces of 2x4’s
(The scrap 2x4’s would be needed if you have an extended single-piece wall cabinet, especially if suspended from a ceiling.)
1. Prep Cabinets.
Empty the cabinets to another room. Remove doors and drawers to another room. If saving cabinets, label doors and cabinets to make replacing later easier. Put hardware in plastic baggies and label as well.
2. Remove Trim and Molding.
Remove toe-kicks, trim and molding around base cabinets and wall cabinets.
3. Disconnect Utilities and Appliances.
Turn off water to the sink. Remove supply lines to sink faucet and sprayer. If there are any electrical outlets inside the cabinets, cut the power to them at the fuse box. Move and/or unplug the stove, oven, refrigerator or any other appliances that are in the way.
4. Remove Sink and Countertop.
Remove the sink. If the sink is being replaced, but the faucet kept, remove faucet first, then remove sink. If the countertop is secured with screws, remove all screws and lift cabinet. Solid surface countertops are secured with glue and will need to be pried from the cabinets.
If you have cabinets suspended from the ceiling, you will need to remove these before you remove the countertop below. See Step 6 for details.
5. Unscrew Base (Floor) Cabinets at Stiles.
Locate the screws or nails along the stiles of base cabinets. These are the screws or nails that hold the cabinets together and can be found at the front of the cabinet.
6. Remove Base (Floor) Cabinets.
Remove the screws attaching the base cabinets to the wall and the floor. Carefully remove the cabinets. Take them out of the room as you go to keep your workspace clear.
If you have cabinets suspended from the ceiling, they will need to be removed before removing the base cabinets and countertop below. It may be best to have three people for this effort. Here is how to do this safely:
• Have all appliances, stoves, etc. removed first.
• Lay a drop cloth over the countertop, unless you will be disposing of it.
• Stack 2x4’s in place at each end of the cabinet, and in the middle if appropriate. They will support the weight of the cabinet while you remove the screws.
• Have your helper keep the cabinet steady and stable on one side as you remove the screws from the other.
• Once all screws have been removed, remove one 2x4 at one end. Then, carefully at the other end, remove another 2x4. Repeat slowly, “walking” the cabinets down to the countertop. Then you can carry it away.
7. Remove Wall Cabinets with Help.
This step requires at least one helper. If you have large wall cabinets, you might be better off with two.
Remove screws along stiles of wall cabinets. Then remove screws attaching cabinet to the wall while your helper holds the cabinet in place. After you remove the first couple of screws, gravity will want to help the cabinet down which could damage the wall and stud if not properly supported. With screws removed, slowly lower the cabinet and remove from the area.
Repeat for each wall cabinet.