How to Apply Wood Veneers to Laminate Kitchen Cabinets

A wood veneer is a piece of real wood cut thinly to cover another surface, such as a cabinet or a piece of furniture. The most common type of wood veneer for use in kitchens is peel-and-stick veneer. This type of product allows you to install veneer over your cabinetry without using chemicals that can produce harmful fumes. Unlike real wood cabinets, laminate cabinets do not require you to seal the surface before installation.

Plywood has a veneered surface.
  1. Remove the hardware and hinges from the cabinets, using a screwdriver. Cover a kitchen table or other flat surface with an old sheet and lay the cabinet doors on the sheet.

  2. Sand the surface of the cabinets and the doors with 120-grit sandpaper, following the grain of the laminate. Sand just enough to remove the shine on the laminate surface. Wipe down the cabinets and doors with a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust.

  3. Saturate a clean cloth with denatured alcohol and wipe down the cabinets and doors to remove any dirt or grease. Let the cabinets air-dry.

  4. Measure the length and width of the cabinet doors. Add 4 inches to each measurement. Use a utility knife to cut the veneer to the size of your modified measurements. This will allow you to have excess veneer that hangs over the cabinet edge as you apply it, so you do not need to be totally precise.

  5. Place the first piece of cut veneer over the first cabinet. Place the wooden scraping block in the center of the cabinet door and press all your weight onto the block. Continue putting heavy pressure on the block and move it slowly out from the center to any outer edge, following the grain. Come back to the center and repeat this procedure until you have flattened the entire surface of the veneer onto the cabinet. Repeat this step with each cabinet.

  6. Cut any excess that hangs off the edges of the cabinets, using a utility knife. Run a piece of sandpaper over any sharp edges that result from this trimming.

  7. Measure the width and length of the cabinet frame pieces you want to veneer. Add 2 inches to each measurement, and cut the veneer to meet your measurements. Apply the veneer to the cabinet frames in the same way you applied it to the doors, using the wood scraper block to apply heavy pressure, following the grain when possible. Trim away any excess with the utility knife, and sand any sharp corners smooth.

  8. Reinstall the hardware and hinges and replace the doors.