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Upgrade Your Household Hardware

Upgrade Your Household Hardware

By: Rachel Cox, Posted: , Section: Projects on a Budget

UPGRADE YOUR LOOK

Knowing how to “accessorize” is the way that many fashionistas describe their penchant for flaunting jewelry; some interior designers have that same outlook on household hardware. If you consider the vast number of knobs, pulls, hinges, handles, and even heating registers that permeate the home, you may realize that hardware makes up a major component and can really make a visual statement. Classy cabinet knobs and pretty drawer pulls can make an old piece of furniture look decades newer and help focus the overall design of a room.
GO CLASSIC

A traditional rule of thumb has been to match materials to the existing décor, for example, by choosing granite knobs to match the countertops, or purchasing pulls with the same metal and finish, such as stainless steel with stainless steel, and copper with copper. However, that idea took hold when there was less of an assortment of decorative options. With such an amazing array available today, all those old rules are taking a backseat to a more intuitive approach in which anything goes, as long as it looks good.

MAKE IT MODERN

Modern options not only include crystal, ceramic, and wood but also a wide range of metal finishes such as brushed nickel, antique brass, zinc plate, and many more—too many to list. Hardware stores and home centers offer plenty of choices for inspection, but the widest selection and best cost savings for major house purchases are often found with online retailers. Style is a personal choice, but size is not, and your selection of cabinet and drawer hardware will of course be limited in size. When you remove a piece of hardware, the replacement should fit the same mounting holes, or cover them. For paint-grade furniture pieces, you may get away with filling the old holes, repainting, and drilling new locations, but this isn’t recommended where woodgrain is exposed.

COME UNHINGED

When ordering hardware for cabinets, you’ll also need matching hinges. The finish should match the décor, and new hinges should match the size and shape of the old ones. Face-frame cabinets have a frame over the top of the opening and need face-frame mounted hinges; other hinges have a recessed overlay. Check how much overlay the hinges need. Cabinet doors completely on top of cabinet faces require a full overlay hinge. If there’s only a partial overlay, use a 3/8-inch inset hinge door that completely conceals the hinge from sight when the door is closed.

To change hinges on a cabinet (or when replacing a door), remove the lower hinges first to keep the unsecured weight of the door from stressing the lower hardware or tearing the wood. Fasten the new top hinge first, and store old hardware until the swap is complete. If the new bolts aren’t right, you may be able to use the old ones.

PAINT YOUR REGISTERS

Old HVAC registers

Paint your register to quickly improve it

While there are many different kinds of HVAC repairs replacing an old, ugly metal HVAC register can rid the room of an eyesore. However, replacing a whole house full of them can get pretty expensive. Over time, metal HVAC registers accumulate rust and grime. You have three options: leave them as is, replace them, or paint them.
Painting is definitely a cheaper improvement, and companies are making some very cool new spraypaint formulas that mimic the look of antique hammered metal, namely copper, bronze, and silver (although more colors are available). The register shown here was thoroughly cleaned and then given a coat of Rust-Oleum’s “Hammered Bronze” paint. Afterward, it looked brand new and stylish—for a fraction of the cost of replacing it.

PRO TIP: MOUNT UP

Whenever you need to make new mounting holes in hardwood, always predrill the fastener holes to prevent splitting the wood. To tighten a loose hinge screw, remove the screw and tap pieces of toothpick into the screw hole. Cut the toothpicks flush with the cabinet face. Reinsert the screw, and the toothpick material should tighten the connection.

HANDLE IT

Most cabinet door handles have two mounting holes that you need to match precisely when replacing; spacing is not universal. Measure the handle or pull at the point between the pair of holes to the closest 1/8 inch. Removal (along with replacement) will require only a screwdriver, usually one that has a Phillips-head tip. You might still, however, come across an escutcheon—a plate behind certain types of drawer pulls—but these can be removed with a small cat’s-paw tool or (carefully) pried up with a putty knife.

INSTALL CUSTOM CLOSET SHELVES

Organizing a closet by adding shelves supported by 1x2 wood cleats is a fairly simple procedure and can add much-needed storage.

STEP 1

Mark the elevation (top surface) of each planned shelf on the back wall of the closet. When you’re marking the elevation, take into account the thickness of each shelf (often ¾ inch) as well as the height of the cleats (1¾ inch).

STEP 2

Mark level horizontal lines along the wall to indicate the tops of the shelves. Then mark out secondary horizontal lines that indicate the bottom of each shelf.

STEP 3

Cut 1x2 wood strips into cleats that fit flush between the side walls of the closet. Position each cleat along the lower line that indicates the bottom of the shelf and fasten it into the wall studs using an air nailer.

STEP 4

Level and fasten the side support cleats to the side walls, which intersect flush with the rear cleat. The side cleats can be cut to match the depth of the shelves, or they can extend all the way to the opposite wall if you plan to install full shelves on three walls of the closet.

STEP 5

Cut the shelf material to fit over the support cleats and flush against the three walls. From the bottom, tilt the shelves to install them over the cleats, and fasten them into the cleats with 1½-inch nails. Shelves are often built from ¾-inch MDF stock or other paint-grade wood product, which you can then finish to your preference. For wraparound shelves mounted to three walls of the closet, consider adding vertical partitions to compartmentalize the storage space for increased organization.

MOUNT SHELVES

The easiest way to mount a shelf on a wall is by using the right-angle shelf brackets commonly sold at home centers and hardware stores. They’re available in a wide array of styles, finishes, and weight-bearing capacities. These L-shaped brackets mount into wall studs using strong screws, and the shelf is then screwed to the bracket.

SMALL SHELVES

You can first locate the stud centers with an electric stud finder. Measure the distance between the studs where you’ll mount the shelves. On the bottom of the shelf, center and then mark the corresponding bracket locations. Screw the brackets to the shelves with the rear arms flush with the back of the shelf. Level the shelf on the wall and screw the brackets into the wall studs.

LONG SHELVES

You might find it easier to mark a level line on the wall to indicate the top of the shelf brackets. Line up the brackets along the line and screw them securely into the studs. Center the shelf over the brackets and mount with screws from below.

PRO TIP

FLOAT YOUR SHELVES

Floating shelves are made to hover on the wall with no visible brackets or mounting hardware. There being no brackets to contend with, the shelves can often be situated more closely together, thus granting more room for more shelves. Floating shelves are basically made of flat, hollow boxes. Depending on the method of construction, the hollow shelf mounts to either metal rods or a wooden cleat that fit inside the rear of the box and supports it from within. The rods or cleat are fastened securely into the wall studs for the strongest holding power.

JOIN THE INDUSTRY

Add style to your house with industrial shelving

You can make rugged “industrial style” shelves using support brackets made from ¾-inch threaded galvanized pipe, floor flanges and end caps. Assemble the brackets from the pipe components and coat them using a black spray paint with a hammered finish for a wrought-iron appearance. The shelves can be cut from 2× lumber and stained to your preference. Fasten through the flanges of the brackets into the wall studs using heavy-duty wood screws for sturdy holding power.
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