How to Replace Cabinet Shelves

Cabinet shelving must often be replaced after long-term use. Shelves can bow with the constant weight of cans of food, kitchen appliances and books, and this bowing can cause cracking. Shelves inside cabinets are relatively easy to replace because they do not need to be decorative. This means the shelf can be created from particle board or plywood. Most cabinets have notches along the sides to hold shelf hangers, which insert into the notches and hold the shelf in place. Creating replacement shelves is fairly easy to do.


Make sturdy replacement shelves for inside cabinets.
  1. Measure the inside of the cabinet from left to right and back to front.
  2. Mark and cut a sheet of 1/2-inch particle board or plywood to fit.
  3. Test the shelf for size by sliding it into the cabinet. The shelf should fit somewhat snugly but still be loose enough to slide in and out.
  4. Remove the shelf and sand its outer edge and top. This will roughen the surface and make the adhesive grip better. Vacuum up the dust.


  1. Measure and cut laminate with a utility knife to fit the front edge and the top of the shelf--the parts that will be visible.
  2. Brush contact cement onto the top and the front edge of the shelf and the backside of the laminate.
  3. Hold the laminate just over the shelf, ensuring that it is aligned properly, and set it in place. Press down in the center of the shelf so the laminate will bond securely, then press it down in an outward motion to the edges, so that the laminate adheres well to the entire shelf. Make any minor adjustments before the glue dries.
  4. Insert shelf hangers into the notches along the sides of the cabinet. Push them into the notch holes so that they are snug.
  5. Slide the shelf over the shelf hangers and ensure that it lies flat. If the shelf is wobbly, the shelf hangers may need to be adjusted.

Things You Will Need

  • Tape measure
  • 1/2-inch particle board or plywood
  • Circular saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Vacuum
  • Laminate sheet
  • Utility knife
  • Paint brush
  • Contact cement
  • Dowel rods
  • Shelf hangers


  • For cabinets without shelf notches, the replacement shelf will have to be nailed into place. Hold the shelf in place by hand or with clamps, then nail through the sides of the cabinet into the sides of the shelf with a nail gun.

Photo Credits

  • girls on shelves image by Cherry-Merry from Fotolia.com