DIY Network

Remodel with Retro Kitchen Cabinets and Metallic Backsplash

Give a bland kitchen a bright, fun 1950s look by refacing the cabinets with colorful laminate and spraying metallic paint on the backsplash.

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Step 1: Remove the Cabinet Doors and Drawers

Use a cordless drill/driver or screwdriver to remove the old cabinet doors and hinges.

Remove the old drawers and the pull-out drawer slides attached to the cabinets.

Mark each door and drawer along with their corresponding locations. Replace each in its original location to avoid having to adjust the hinge or slide positions.

remove cabinet doors and hinges

Step 2: Reface the Cabinets

Test fit the laminate panels to the old cabinet doors and drawers (Image 1). Panels that are too small will reveal the old surfaces along the edges. Panels that are slightly oversized are better -- they can be trimmed to a perfect fit after the adhesive has dried.

Prep the doors by sanding with a palm sander and 60-grit pad. It is not necessary to sand off the old finish — just rough up the surface to ensure a good adhesive bond.

Use a tack cloth to remove all of the dust. A clean, dust-free surface is required for the adhesive to stick (Image 2).

Apply an even coat of spray adhesive to the cabinet face, especially near the edges. Then apply adhesive to the back of the laminate panel. Spray the adhesive in opposite patterns on the two faces to be sure the surfaces are completely covered.

Let the glue set up for 5 to 10 minutes or until both surfaces are tacky, but not wet, to the touch.

Spray adhesive is a contact cement

Step 3: Trim the Laminate

Use a small block plane to trim the laminate flush with the cabinet door edges.

Step 4: Prep the Surface for Painting

Use auto-body filler to repair any cracks or chips in the old laminate backsplash.

Lightly sand the backsplash surface and wipe off all dust with a tack cloth.

Step 5: Spray on the Metallic Backsplash

High-volume low-pressure, or HVLP, sprayers, which can be inexpensively rented, are a big improvement over old-style paint sprayers because they distribute the paint within a small area. However, it’s wise to protect the area where spraying will take place by covering the cabinets and counters with plastic sheeting (Image 1).

Strain latex-base metallic paint before filling the sprayer (Image 2). This will prevent paint lumps or any contaminate particles from being sprayed onto the wall.

When spraying metallic paint, wear protective goggles and respirator. Make smooth even passes using a light touch on the trigger, especially at the end of each pass. Spray on a thin coat and let it dry completely before applying a second coat. Apply as many coats as required to achieve an uninterrupted metallic appearance.

After the paint is completely dry, apply a clear-coat sealer such as non-yellowing polyurethane.

Step 6: Reassemble the Kitchen Components

Reattach the laminated cabinet doors, making sure to replace each door in its original location.

Install new full-length cabinet slides and replace the drawers. Older kitchen cabinets typically have 3/4-length slides. Using new slides adds convenience, and the new hardware will last longer.




  • Aluminum moldings (Nostalgic 50's Collection) and cap for counter backsplash from Eagle Mouldings
  • Stainless bar handles (model: O1W83.10) from Lee Valley Tools
  • New Classics toaster (model: T75r/color: Diner Red); New Classics Round Belgian Waffle Baker (model: 200/color: Chrome); Retro toaster oven (model: 372/color: Chrome) from Toastmaster Inc.