An unfinished area in a home with exposed brick, several windows, and a red broom with various tools on the floor.

How To Remove Kitchen Cabinets

Originally contributed by • last updated 5/28/2021

Laurie Shaw
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Pexels

Sometimes you simply need to get rid of the old to make way for the new.

A kitchen demolition can be a fun, even therapeutic endeavour. However, you can do it in a way that makes life easier when it comes to putting everything back together.

We’ll teach you how to remove kitchen cabinets like a professional.

This method will protect your kitchen from unnecessary damage and you from unnecessary injuries. All while still getting the gratification of tearing things apart.

Let’s demo a kitchen and get rid of those cabinets that truly just need to go.

Then you can get started on the building portion of your kitchen renovation!

Wear proper safety equipment at all times during any demolition project. Ear and eye protection, safety footwear, headgear, and gloves. Wear a respirator when working with any questionable materials.

Let's Make It

Equipment

  • Drill
  • Demo bar/ pry bar/ crowbar
  • Sledgehammer
  • Circular saw

Materials

  • Plastic sheeting

Why It’s Important To Know How To Demo Cabinets Properly

Construction Coach
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YouTube

We really wanted to show you this wiring example, so you understand the importance of knowing how to demo a kitchen properly.

You never know what you’re going to find during a kitchen demolition. From buried treasure to haphazardly installed range hoods to hidden plumbing and electrical.

During this particular renovation project, we found exposed electrical wiring underneath a lazy susan cupboard.

If we had started removing kitchen cabinets without a plan, swinging away and breaking everything in sight, we could have damaged electrical wires.

These wires, in particular, include the main feed for the house, which could be a very costly repair and even quite dangerous.

Know there are unforeseen things like this in everyone’s home, and you just have to find them and deal with them accordingly.

Before You Demo

Here is a checklist of what needs to be taken care of before you start removing kitchen cabinets.

  • Turn off electricity going to the demolition area at the electrical panel.
  • Locate any gas lines going to the kitchen (e.g. stove) and shut them off.
  • Locate and shut off water lines. Disconnect any plumbing that will prevent you from removing the cabinets from the wall (e.g. sink).
  • Remove appliances. 

Tip: We highly recommend sealing off the kitchen demolition area with plastic sheeting. This will contain dust and debris in the work area. After all, it’s much easier to clean one room than the entire home!

How To Remove Kitchen Cabinets

01/5

Removing Doors For Kitchen Cabinets

Construction Coach
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YouTube

Smashing away at things with a sledgehammer and demo bar causes a lot of damage to the home and makes the whole kitchen renovation much more challenging and everything dustier.

The last thing you want to do is be responsible for upping your renovation costs because you got carried away with the demo.

Taking a more systematic approach is the way to go. Think about it like this; the goal is to try to take each piece out the same way it went in.

To start the kitchen demolition, use a drill to take off cabinet doors.

02/5

How To Take Down Cabinets

Construction Coach
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YouTube

Now use a drill to remove the screws holding each upper cabinet to the wall.

If the cabinets are in separate pieces, work one cabinet at a time to prevent them from crashing down when you don’t want them to fall.

Some cabinets may be glued to the wall or attached in some other way. With all the screws removed, wedge a demo or pry bar behind each cabinet to detach it from the wall.

Lift it down from the wall for disposal.

03/5

How To Remove Kitchen Drawers

Construction Coach
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YouTube

When removing lower kitchen cabinets, start by pulling out all of the slidable drawers. This will provide better access to the countertop.

Once the drawers have been taken out, use a drill to unscrew the doors on the lower cabinets.

04/5

How To Take Off Countertops

Construction Coach
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YouTube

When removing laminate or other cuttable countertops like butcher block, use a circular saw to cut the countertop into more manageable pieces.

This will make them easier to remove and carry out.

Tip: Use an old saw blade as it may become damaged due to running into hidden screws in the countertop and cabinetry.

Construction Coach
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YouTube

Use a demo bar to pry the countertops away from the lower kitchen cabinets.

In most cases, these types of countertops are held in place with glue or silicone.

If you’re having trouble detaching them from the cabinets, check to see if they’re also held in place with screws.

When countertops are held with screws, remove the screws first, then pull them off the cabinetry.

05/5

How To Remove Lower Cabinets

Construction Coach
|
YouTube

Again, use the drill to disconnect the lower cabinets from the wall and each other.

Try to use the drill to disassemble the kitchen cabinets as much as possible.

Once all of the screws are removed, use a demo bar to detach them from the wall and floor.

Tip: If the lower cabinets are really stuck, use a sledgehammer to free them. Try not to simply smash the cabinet to pieces, but rather use the force of the hammer to dislodge each section systematically. Refrain from wildly swinging the hammer without purpose, though.

You can still enjoy the gratifying elements of a kitchen demolition by doing things the right way.

Changes are still being made, and things are still getting broken, but you’re doing it in a way to keep you and your home safe.

You now know how to remove kitchen cabinets like a professional.

Now enjoy your reno, removing kitchen cabinets, and seeing your remodelling project come to fruition!