Kitchen Remodeling: Part I (cabinet removal)

Finally me and my wife gathered enough courage to re-do our old ugly kitchen.

Plan was simple, during an Ikea 20% off kitchen event, replace all cabinets and appliances. Also redo old vinyl flooring with ceramic or porcelain tiles.  I’m in no way a good handy guy, so this will prove to be a major accomplishment or a major failure for me.  At the point of writing this I’m not nowhere near completion, but I think it’d be fun to share my challenges, and accomplishments (if any…)
In Part I I will describe the demolition process of the cabinets and preparation of the floors. So read more after the break.

Cabinet cabinet on the the wall, what surprise do you hold for us all?

I hate surprises when doing renovation. And there are always some, and they usually very very nasty. For example when I decided to remove old built in storage in the basement to create a work area, I found that behind it wall rotted thru, foundation had a crack where water came from and there were termite damage.  But I digress…

So breaking stuff is usually fun. You take a crowbar, hammer, reciprocating “sawzall” and the fun begin, right?  Wrong!
The assholes who put these old cabinets back in 1970s, did a really great jobs of making them indestructible and detachment proof by using hardwood, and lots and lots of really long nails with tiny heads.  The few screws that were there, were completely hidden behind strongly glued laminate. I actually had no idea screws were there until I accidentally peeled laminate…
So onto the process. If you watch a great amount of Youtube videos on subject of demolishing cabinets, they will show that cabinets screwed together and then they screwed onto the wall. Countertops are also screwed on top of the bottom cabinets, and have some calk holding them to the wall.  From these two advises only countertop was applicable in my case.  Wall cabinets were nailed to the wall, and just to make things interested they hid some of these nails in the hidden compartments that all cabinets in the lower section.  Purpose of those compartments is still unknown. They sure make great place to hide secret plans or treasures or breed roaches. Fortunately no roaches were found, but I found some treasure: Old mouse droppings.  So here how you remove a cabinet like mine:
Step 0. Remove doors and shelves. This part is super easy.
Step 1. Using flat screwdriver and hammer pill off hard laminate.
Step 2. Remove screws that hold front frame together.
Step 3. Take a big heavy hammer and wack side of the cabinet outwards. That is if you don’t have ajesent cabinet (I didn’t on one side). Keep waking until side comes off. Mine was glued and held by lots of big staples.
Step 4. After one or both sides are off, you should be able to take off front by using hammer on the middle divider.  This gave me access to the hidden compartment and let me remove plywood floor that was above it.
Step 5. This is the hard part. At this point I saw a back side plywood and two pieces of wood. Thru these cabinet was nailed to the wall studs. You need a large flat crowbar, and you have to be very careful when pulling them off because you can easily crush drywall (as I did). Pry against plywood, not against drywall. You can place a piece of removed plywood against the wall and use it as base for crowbar. Go slow and pry a little over the whole perimeter of the boards until nails start to come out. If you can get enough nail head shown you can remove it with hammer or nail remover tool.
Fortunately for me after I made a hole in the drywall, I learned my lesson and took down two top and two bottom cabinets.  Countertop was really easy to remove, it was held just by two screws and some calk which I cut with the knife. It took me anywhere from 1 hour to 30 minutes per cabinet, and so far I’m only 40% done and I started a week ago. Why I didn’t do them all? Let me explain.
First there’s an issue of waste disposal. Each cabinet generates a decent pile of garbage. I don’t live in a house so there’s a shared dumpster where we are not allowed to put too much stuff.  So I have to take is slow and I don’t have too much room for garbage inside the home.  I couldn’t find a local dump site yet, and certainly can’t order a construction dumpster (no backyard or driveway). There’s option to order a junk truck, but they pretty expensive ($200 and up).
Second, I tried to multitask, and started to prepare flooring for tiles. Now that’s a process that is much more “fun” than removing cabinets, and might drive me nuts, but I will tell you about it in Part II.


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