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Nov 11, 2008 07:07 AM

White kitchen cabinets---longevity issues, discoloration?

I am currently planning an expansion of my city apartment kitchen. I currently have white-painted wood cabinets. I like them very much. Consensus seems to be that these can be moved to a new kitchen location with no problem. True? Since the new space will be larger, I will probably have to supplement with a few new cabinets.

Question: My guess is that the new white cabinets will be "whiter" than the "old" (4 years old) originals.

This realization made me think about white cabinets in general. Mine seem to be a bit more yellow than they were when brand new...they are now a very different white than the adjacent white Viking (do not get me started about the Viking..) range.

Do you all have this experience and do they eventually get so discolored as to look really bad?

I do not want to continue with the white theme here if I can expect to have yellow-ish wood in a few years..thinking about having them painted...

How long do your white cabinets remain acceptably white? Would you use white cabinets again? (options might be dove grey..) Is there any attractive option for having two different cabinet materials in a kitchen?

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  1. Moving kitchen cabinetry from place to place is a European thing. If that is what you want to do, use cabinets from a place that sells stuff that is meant to be moved (like Ikea or Container Store). Most of the stuff sold in the US is intended to stay put, and will get wrecked in the process of taking down and re-installing.

    Our house is approx 15 yo and has white kitchen cabinets. They do get dingy over time but good regular washing keeps them from looking gross. Bigger issue is that stuff that gets heavy use de-lams. The repairs stand out pretty badly

    Assuming you get conventional fixed cabinets, if you will be there more than 5-10 years, get solid wood -- it will hold up better. If this is more short term digs, get whatever you like right now. It will make you happier and with reasonable care will look fine when it comes time to sell (the buyer may very well want to rip out or re-face whatever you have anyway).

    1 Reply
    1. re: MikeB3542

      I think I was not clear. I already have the white cabinets in my kitchen. I am disheartened after reading your post about getting wrecked in the moving. Is there no way that these cabinets (only 4 years old!!!) can be taken down and rehung? They came from the company Plain and Fancy and I forked out the big bucks for them!!!! (head is now in hands..)

      If not, then I am back to square one! I was counting on not having to buy an entire new set of cabinets!!!

      Has anyone taken down and rehung their cabinets with good result? I will be using a contractor, not yet chosen, not doing any of the work myself..

    2. We just put in a new Ikea kitchen, and used white on the uppers and also on one side of the kitchen. The lowers are in medium brown. I love the contrast - maybe you might want to consider something like that.

      Even with our old kitchen, where all our cabinets were originally white, we had painted the uppers a pale green and the lowers white. I just like that look.

      1. We put in oak cabinets with a white stain as part of a total kitchen "gut" and remodel about 19 years ago. I loved the way that light reflected off the cabinetry, making the kitchen brighter, especially on gray winter days. HOWEVER, within about 5 years there was considerable discoloration and dirt on the cabinets, even though we are fairly conscientious about wiping up, especially on the cabinet doors below the sink, as a result of drips, etc.
        We ended up refacing those cabinets with mahogany veneers about 10 years after the original remodel. The darker cabinet fronts are now 8 years old and still look great. But, my kitchen does seem a bit darker on those gray winter days. I would not do white again.

        3 Replies
        1. re: masha

          I did a total re-do about the same length of time ago. I had solid oak custom made cabinets and they are a pickled white. I wash them down thoroughly about twice a year and they have not yellowed or discolored at all.

          1. re: Candy

            Mine are painted white, not stained. I wipe up any stains or food splatters, but I think just the day-to-day cooking is contributing to some discoloration...

            Have any of you actually had cabinets taken down and reused in another part of the kitchen?

            1. re: erica

              Mine were custom made for this kitchen. But they were built off site and installed. I don't know why I could not take them down and move them. They are like furniture and very sturdy. The only thing that might suffer is the molding trim at the top, oh and of course the price in the sale of my house. A kitchen with no cabinets is not attractive to buyers and I guess one could put in something else but that would be another out of pocket expense. As a recovering Realtor I can tell you that if something is attached it is usually expected to remain with the property and if you intend to take them with you, you should get them down and out of sight, and replaced. Kitchens (and bathrooms) sell houses.

        2. Erica, in another house/another kitchen, I painted dark-stained oak cabinets white. The oak immediately bled through. More pain, more bleeding. Finally, a coat of KILZ solved the bleeding problem and they remained really white for the almost ten years that I lived in that house. PS - I'm in AZ and we get plenty of sunshine. They never faded or changed color. My painter told me that if the KILZ did work, he was going to try marine paint next.

          During a remodel of that kitchen, we moved some cabinets within the room. They never went on a moving van but were unattached, moved, stored and reattached. Also, we scrounged a couple of additional cabinets from a neighbor who was gutting their kitchen and painted those to match. It was not possible to tell which was which. We even "slimmed" a couple of them by cutting off a couple of inches from the backs and re-doing the drawers. One of the scrounged cabinets got a butcher block top while the rest were covered with white tile. Hope this helps.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Sherri

            Sherri that makes me feel much better. Just to be clear, I will not be removing these cabinets from my kitchen..I am expanding the kitchen (combining my apartment with the one next door) and so expect to enlarge the current kitchen into part of the new space. I am hoping to be able to reuse the existing cabinets.

            On a related subject: Has anyone actually moved countertops within a room? I am very happy with my existing granite countertops that I would hope to be able to reuse them within the expanded is not a standard granite so I am doubtful about finding new stone to match..

            The granite is a honed stone that I chose at a slab yard. The name they used is "wild west."

            1. re: erica

              This is very difficult to do, especially if you have sections that have narrow strips surrounding the cutouts for your sink and cooktop. Those sections are very, very likely to crack when moving. Be prepared for the fact that while most of the stone can be moved, you may find yourself piecing together smaller pieces in your new space. The cracked pieces will have to be cut off, and new edges will need to be honed. Plus, you may have to reinstall around a sink and/or cooktop too, so this is a ton of labor cost. You may just want to consider leaving it in place and adding complimentary stone, because the cost of labor, which is quite a bit of what we are talking about, will get you closer to a new kitchen in your new place.

              1. re: erica

                Erica, talking with both the contractor and a recommended granite professional will yield the best answer. RGC1982 is absolutely correct that re-doing granite is very costly in terms of labor. I will add that just because the current granite has a name does not, in any way, mean you can get anywhere close to what you now have with future purchases. This is a natural stone product that will likely look very different when taken from a different place on the mountain.
                NB: the major exception to this is what we've come to call "Builder Brown". I cannot remember the official name but it looks virtually identical from house to house.

                I bought five (approx) 6X10' slabs, from the same batch, all sandwich-sliced and numbered. #1 is different from #5. We have full backsplashes and when I wanted some extra granite, slabs numbered in the teens - from the same batch - they were different enough that I made another material choice.

                1. re: Sherri

                  Builder brown of often called "Baltic Brown", and it is very consistent from slab to slab. So is Verde Butterfly and Uba Tuba. Big swirls are very unique

                  1. re: Sherri

                    I am SO impressed by all of the helpful replies!

                    I am NOT hopeful about finding a matching granite. I have never seen "my" granite anyplace else; it is green with darker flecks and a rose swirl running through it. Very attractive, not to mention that it hides the crumbs! But I will explore using another material in the "new" spaces..

                    This pic gives the idea but does not do justice to the stone. On another site, I read that it comes from Brazil...


              2. My painted white wood cabinets are now 14 years old, since they came with the house. I've no idea what the previous owner did, but my kitchen is in heavy use. There is no discoloration.

                However, what I am experiencing is peeling paint on trim edges. It is one of the jokes I make regularly while I decide when and how to repaint them -- that I am antiquing my cabinets naturally. In fact, I think people actually pay faux painters to get this look with chains, sandpaper and sharp metal objects -- really.

                Seriously, consider repainting the whole ensemble in an antiqued white or pale cream. That will hide the inevitable dings and peeling paint a whole lot better than flat white, which is not so easy to match. In fact, I have decided, finally, that since I love the look of white cabinets with my very dark green granite counters (nearly black), that I want to keep that freshness, but just give it an update by having them repainted antiqued white. Just my two cents...