How to remove base cabinets without removing countertop

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By De Roberts

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Are you tired of your old, outdated kitchen base cabinets? Do you want to replace them with something more modern and functional? The thought of removing the cabinets may seem daunting, especially if you don’t want to remove the countertop.

However, with a few simple steps, you can easily remove the base cabinets without disturbing the countertop.

Before you begin, it’s important to prepare the area and gather the necessary tools and materials. This includes removing all items from the cabinets, disconnecting any plumbing or electrical connections, and ensuring that the area is clear and safe for work.

With the right tools, such as a power drill, saw, and pry bar, and materials, such as screws, shims, and wood glue, you can successfully replace your kitchen base cabinets and transform your kitchen into a functional and stylish space.

So, let’s get started on how to remove base cabinets without removing countertop!

Key Takeaways

  • Use a utility knife or scraper to break the bond between the countertop and cabinet before removing fixtures and emptying the cabinets.
  • Support the countertop with clamps and studs, and cut through the plumbing area with a jigsaw to free up the cabinet for removal.
  • When installing new cabinets, identify the highest point on the floor and draw a level line on the wall, measure and mark the location of each cabinet box, and dry-fit the cabinets and shim the base until level.
  • Removing and replacing outdated base cabinets can provide improved functionality and storage space, a fresh updated look, and the possibility of customizing cabinets to fit specific needs and preferences.

Preparations before removing base cabinets

Before yanking out those pesky base cabinets, make sure to empty them out and take off any pesky fixtures so you don’t end up with a hot mess on your hands!

Remove the doors and fronts of the cabinets, including the kickboards if there are any. This will give you more space to work with and prevent any damage to the doors or fixtures.

Use a utility knife or scraper to break the bond between the countertop and the cabinet. This will make it easier to remove the cabinet without damaging the countertop.

To prevent any accidents, support the countertop with clamps and studs to ensure it doesn’t fall or crack during the process.

You should also cut through the plumbing area with a jigsaw to free up the cabinet. Unscrew the cabinets from the wall and from each other so they can be removed easily.

Finally, you may need to cut the back of the cabinet or make other modifications to fit the new cabinet in place. Keep in mind that the process may vary depending on the specific type of countertop and cabinet you have, so be sure to do your research before starting.

How to remove base cabinets without removing countertop

Essential Tools and Materials for a Cabinet Replacement

To ensure a successful cabinet replacement, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the necessary tools and materials. Without these tools, you might not be able to remove the old cabinets and install the new ones properly.

Some of the essential tools you need include a cordless drill, drill bits, and cordless screwdriver for drilling and driving screws. A cabinet jack, cabinet claws, framing square, combination square, cabinet wedges, chisels, and stud finder are necessary for leveling and securing the cabinets. You’ll also need a cabinet hardware jig for drilling holes for cabinet hardware.

In addition to the tools, you’ll also need materials such as screws, adhesives, clamps, shims, wood filler, and sandpaper. These materials help to secure the cabinets in place and finish the installation. Without them, you might not be able to fix the cabinets securely, and they might not fit properly.

Remember that the specific tools and materials needed may vary depending on the type of cabinets and the installation method. So, make sure you have the right tools and materials before you start the cabinet replacement process.

Removing old base cabinets

As you empty the cabinets and take off any fixtures like drawers and doors, don’t forget to cut through the plumbing area with a jigsaw to free up the cabinet. This is a crucial step as it’ll allow you to remove the old cabinet without damaging the plumbing.

After cutting through the plumbing area, unscrew the cabinets from the wall and from each other. It’s important to take your time during this process to avoid damaging the surrounding walls or countertop.

Once the cabinets are unscrewed, break the bond between the countertop and cabinets using a utility knife or scraper. Support the countertop with clamps and studs to prevent it from falling or cracking.

With the old cabinet removed, slide the new cabinet beneath the countertop and secure it with adhesives and screws. By following these steps, you can successfully remove old base cabinets without removing the countertop and prepare for a successful cabinet replacement.

Installing new base cabinets

Now that the old cabinets have been safely taken out, it’s time to install the new ones. Installing new base cabinets can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it can be done efficiently.

To start, identify the highest point on the floor where you will be installing base cabinets and draw a level line on the wall at a height of 34 1/2 inches from the highest point on the floor. Measure and label the location of each cabinet box on the wall.

Arrange and dry-fit the base cabinet boxes, starting with the corner unit and placing the remaining cabinets flush against each other according to your kitchen layout and design. Set the first cabinet 1/4 inch from the positioning line and shim the base until the top is even with the horizontal line and level from front to back.

Clamp the cabinets together and drill through the side of the face frame a pilot hole, using a 3/32 drill bit. Each base cabinet should have three holes (top, middle, and bottom of the cabinet). Use a 2 1/2-inch, 8 screw to attach the second cabinet to the first cabinet, countersinking the screw for an even appearance. Install the adjacent cabinets by repeating the steps for attaching the second cabinet.

Adjust the drawers and drill holes in the cabinet doors for hardware. Hide the gaps between the cabinets using wood filler or trim.

Installing new base cabinets may seem like a daunting task, but it can be done with the right tools and techniques. Remember to take your time and measure carefully, and you’ll have beautiful new cabinets to enjoy for years to come. Plus, with the added resale value they bring, you’ll have even more freedom to make the changes you desire in your home.

Benefits of replacing kitchen base cabinets

Not only can it give your kitchen a fresh, updated look, but it can also improve its functionality and storage space. High-quality base cabinets are waterproof and last longer, ensuring that your investment is worth it in the long run.

Replacing your base cabinets can also open up the possibility of changing your kitchen’s fundamental layout and functionality. You can customize the cabinets to fit your specific needs and preferences, adding features such as pull-out drawers and other storage solutions.

With improved storage and better functionality, you’ll find cooking and entertaining in your kitchen to be easier and more enjoyable.


What should I do if I want to replace my kitchen cabinet without removing the countertop?

If you’re looking to give your kitchen a fresh update by replacing the cabinets without disturbing the countertop, simply follow the steps outlined above – it’s a delicate process, but with careful planning and execution, you can achieve a stunning transformation.

Keep in mind that this project requires patience and attention to detail to avoid damaging the countertop or other elements in your kitchen. As you proceed, make sure to:

  • Assess the current state of your cabinets and countertop to determine if this is the best option for your renovation.
  • Gather all necessary tools and materials beforehand to streamline the process and avoid unnecessary delays.
  • Communicate with any helpers or professionals involved in the project to ensure everyone is on the same page and working together effectively.
  • Regularly check the stability and security of the countertop throughout the process to prevent any accidents or damage.

One of the key aspects of successfully replacing your base cabinets without removing the countertop is ensuring that the countertop remains supported and secure throughout the process. As you carefully remove the old kitchen cabinets, use clamps and studs to provide the necessary support, and be prepared to make adjustments as needed. This will not only protect your countertop from damage but will also give you peace of mind as you work on your project.

As you slide the new kitchen cabinets into place, take your time to ensure they’re properly aligned and level. Once they’re in the correct position, use adhesives and screws to secure them in place. Remember to reconnect any plumbing or other fixtures that were disconnected during the removal process.

Should I remove the hinges from the cabinets before I pull them out?

If you plan to replace the cabinet hinges, you might wonder whether removing them from the cabinets before pulling them out is necessary. Well, let me tell you, it’s highly recommended to do so! Removing the hinges before pulling out the cabinets can make the whole process much smoother and easier. Allow me to explain why.

1. Avoid unnecessary damage: By removing the hinges from the cabinets before pulling them out, you can prevent any accidental damage that may occur during the removal process. Hinges can be delicate, and if they get caught or snagged while pulling out the cabinets, they can break or cause damage to the cabinet doors or surrounding areas. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

2. Easier removal of cabinet doors: Removing the hinges from the cabinets allows you to detach the cabinet doors more easily. Some hinges have a convenient release button that allows you to effortlessly separate the door from the cabinet box. However, if your hinges don’t have a release button, you can use a drill fitted with a screwdriver bit to unscrew the hinges from the cabinet base. Starting with the bottom hinge is a good practice to ensure a smooth removal process.

3. Simplify hinge replacement: Once the cabinet doors are detached from the cabinets, you can easily remove the hinges from the doors themselves. You can unscrew the hinges from the doors without any hassle using a screwdriver or drill with a screwdriver bit. This way, when it’s time to replace the hinges, you’ll have the old ones ready to be replaced with the new ones, making the installation process much more straightforward.

In conclusion, removing the hinges from the cabinets before pulling them out is wise. It helps you avoid unnecessary damage, simplifies the removal of cabinet doors, and makes replacing hinges a breeze.

Can I refinish or reface the cabinets after they are removed?

Absolutely! Refinishing or refacing cabinets after they have been removed is a fantastic way to give them a fresh and updated look. Whether you refinish or reface, both processes can transform your cabinets into something truly stunning.

Refinishing involves sanding down the cabinets to remove the old finish, giving you a clean canvas. After that, you can apply a new finish, a beautiful stain or a fresh coat of paint. Don’t forget to consider replacing the hardware as well, as it can significantly affect the overall appearance.

Reface is another excellent option if you want to change the look of your cabinets without completely starting from scratch. This process involves replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, giving them a new style. A new veneer is applied over the existing cabinet frames, creating a seamless and cohesive look. It’s like giving your cabinets a stylish makeover!

Both refinishing and refacing allow you to customize your cabinets to match your taste and the overall aesthetic of your space. The possibilities are endless, whether you prefer a modern, sleek look or a more traditional and rustic feel.


In summary, removing and replacing base cabinets is a great way to update your kitchen without doing a full renovation. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can confidently tackle this project and enjoy the benefits of having a fresh and updated kitchen.

So go ahead and get started – your newly installed cabinets are waiting for you!

Roberts profile author
De Roberts

I'm a dedicated content writer and home DIY enthusiast who delights in sharing his experiences, providing valuable tips, tricks, and step-by-step guides with others.

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