Renovated kitchen with new faucet and sink

If you want to refresh your kitchen or bath but don't have the time or money to spend on a complete overhaul, try replacing old, outdated cabinet hardware. These may seem like small changes, but the effect they can have on your kitchen and bath's appeal is worth the do-it-yourself effort.

Replace Old Faucets

When selecting your new faucet, be sure it will work with the existing faucet drillings. Most likely, the drillings for your current faucet are either center set, widespread or single-hole. If your faucet currently has a spout and two handles for hot and cold water together on a shared base, you have a center-set faucet (note that there will be three holes underneath the faucet). Widespread faucets will have a spout and separate hot and cold-water valves, each with their own base. Single-hole faucets have a single spout and handle in one base.

Plan so that the color and style of your new faucet matches your décor, accessories and countertop in your kitchen or bathroom. There are a number of colors available. Popular choices are in various finishes of chrome, nickel, and stainless steel, among others.

Helpful Tip

Match your new faucet color and style with the new hardware you also will be installing (See: Replace Hardware). Shop for both at the same time for a perfect match.

Step 1: Remove Existing Faucet

Before you begin, shut off water to the fixture by turning the water valves for both hot and cold water located under the sink. Turn on the faucet to drain any remaining water in the lines. Use an adjustable wrench to disconnect the water supply lines. Now spray the faucet tailpiece, mounting nuts and coupling nuts with WD-40® spray lubricant to loosen them up if they are hard to turn. Detach the coupling nuts first with a basin wrench or channel-type pliers. Next, unscrew the tailpiece mounting nuts and remove the faucet base from the sink. Clean the now exposed surface underneath with mild detergent, a rag, brush or sponge, depending on how dirty it is. If stubborn plumber's putty remains, scrape it away with a putty knife or gently with a razor blade.

Helpful Tip

Place a small bucket or pot in the under-sink cabinet to catch any water that might spill while you're disconnecting water lines.

Step 2: Insert New Faucet

Insert the new faucet into the empty opening where the old faucet sat. Caulk the base of the faucet with either silicone caulk or plumber's putty, applying a bead about 1/4" thick. Move the faucet into position, being sure that the base is parallel to the back of the sink. Now press the faucet down firmly so that it's tightly sealed to the sink. Scrape away any excess caulk from the surface of the faucet. Let the putty set.

Step 3: Make Connections

Use your basin wrench or channel-type pliers to connect the metal friction washers to the tailpiece underneath the sink. Then attach the mounting nuts. Attach the supply tubes to the tailpiece, and then use your basin wrench or channel-type pliers to tighten the coupling nuts.

Step 4: Reconnect Water Supply

Now that the supply tubing is attached to the sink, connect it to the water source at the shutoff valves using compression fittings. Tighten the mounting nuts, first by hand and then with an adjustable wrench, turning them 1/4 of a turn to make sure they're not too tight.

Helpful Tip

When you're tightening the supply tubing to the valve, hold the valve with another wrench to keep it from turning.

If your new faucet has pre-attached tubing, it is not necessary to connect tubing to the faucet. Connect the pre-attached supply tubes to the shutoff valves with a basin wrench or channel-type pliers. The tubing with a red label connects to the hot water source and the tubing with a blue label connects to the cold water source.

Step 5: Attach a Kitchen Sink Sprayer (Optional)

If you're replacing a kitchen faucet and an old sprayer, follow these guidelines. Apply a 1/4" thick bead of either silicone caulk or plumber's putty to the bottom edge of the sprayer's base. Insert the end of the sprayer hose into the sink opening and press the sprayer firmly into place. Scrape away any excess sealant and let the base and sealant set for a few minutes. Place a washer over the tailpiece, then screw in and tighten the mounting with a basin wrench or channel-type pliers. Scrape away any extra putty from the base of the sprayer. Connect the hose to the hose nipple found on the bottom of the faucet. Use your basin wrench or channel-type pliers to tighten the screw a 1/4 of a turn (remember, not too tight).

Replace Hardware

Replace old, dingy or just plain boring hinges, doorknobs and drawer pulls with new ones to instantly give bathroom or kitchen cabinets a fresh new look. If you have a more traditional eye for style, shop for brushed or polished finishes, in brass, bronze, pewter or even ceramic pulls or knobs. If your style is contemporary, choose high-gloss metals such as nickel or stainless steel. For a more modern look, choose sleek nickel or stainless steel pulls, instead of knobs.

Helpful Tips

Don't forget to make sure your new hardware matches your new faucet. You don't want brass hardware and a stainless steel faucet.

Don't just swap out knobs and pulls. You also want to replace hinges and catches to match the new exterior hardware.

Step 1: Remove Old Hardware

Remove existing hardware with the necessary tools. In most cases, this will be just a screwdriver. For cabinet doors, as opposed to drawers, remove the door completely by detaching the door hinges from the cabinet frame.

Step 2: Remove Hardware Blemishes/Damage

Once you've removed a knob or pull, there will most likely be a mark left on the cabinet surface due to the amount of time that the hardware has been in place. Use a mild detergent, water and a sponge or rag to clean off any residue that was hidden under the hardware. For tough, gummy residue, use steel wool or a fine-grit sandpaper to lightly scrub it away. Be sure that you don't rub too hard or in too large of an area; you don't want to scratch or otherwise mar the surface before you add the new hardware.

If you're going to be adding hardware with different screw alignments, you need to patch the old hardware's holes before drilling new ones. Use a wood putty stick to fill in the old holes and wipe away any excess with a rag. Find a putty color that's as close to your cabinet's wood tone as possible.

Step 3: Install New Hardware

Attach new cabinet hardware the way you removed it, by attaching it with a screwdriver and the screws or other fasteners provided with the new hardware. If you have to make new holes for screws, do so with a power drill and a drill bit that is approximately the same or a size smaller than the screws that will fasten the hardware to the door or drawer. Before drilling, measure the drawer's surface with a tape measure to be sure you're installing the knob exactly in the center of the drawer's surface.

If you're installing pulls with more than one screw location, measure the distance between each screw on the hardware and transfer the measurement to the cabinet or drawer and mark the locations with a pencil. Be sure you place the pull in the center of a drawer by measuring the drawer face. Also, use a level to be sure your new pull will be installed in the right place.

That's it, you're done! Enjoy your kitchen and/or bath's fresh, new look.

Project Shopping List

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.