Q: We are planning to sell our home next year. We tried the easiest route to brighten up the kitchen: painting the dark wood cabinets a lighter color, as we have a faux wood laminate countertop. We went with a two-toned effect, with the cabinets done in white and the doors and drawers done in a semigloss beige. It does not look all that great and the doors stick: What would you suggest?

Also, the drawers are an odd rail system with a wheel on an arm at the back of the drawer that hooks into the rail above the drawer — they always come off and stick horribly. Any advice would be wonderful and highly appreciated, as we are on a very tight budget.

A: When remodeling to sell, always stick with colors and materials that are as universally appealing as possible. In the kitchen, I would go with all white on the cabinets, since the two-tone look is not something that will appeal to most people.

It’s hard to say why the cabinet doors stick. If they didn’t stick before the paint job, my suspicion would be that you got paint on the hinges, or you built up too much paint in the area of the hinges that is binding the door, or you closed and/or reinstalled the doors before the paint was completely dry.

If you are going to repaint the doors, I would suggest sanding them down to bare wood before you repaint — putting another coat on at this point is probably asking for trouble. I would also replace the hinges.

The old-style drawer slides you mention have always been a problem. I’m not sure those things worked right even when they were brand new! I would start by removing each drawer, then checking to be sure that the wheel, track and other components are well secured.

They were often held in place by a staple or a single screw, so they work loose and drop out of alignment quite easily. Install more screws as needed to keep them in place.

Over time, the plastic front wheels wear out as well, which also messes with the alignment and operation. You can order new wheels and also complete replacement slides from Rockler Woodworking and Hardware at www.rockler.com.

Finally, make sure you clean everything thoroughly with a degreaser.

Q: (We have problems) with our contractor not doing his job; can we fire him and hire someone who will do the job? He is threatening to sue us. We contracted him to do the work, but there have been many problems and there is not a written contact. …CONTINUED

A: You say that you contracted with him, but later you say you have no written contract. Not having a written contract can make things considerably messier. You apparently have no written specifications, no start and completion dates, no agreed-upon price, nothing. Instead you have some type of oral contract, which makes it very difficult to determine whether a breach has occurred, and if so, by whom.

All of that is what affects your question about whether or not you can fire him. With no written record for the courts to fall back on, it becomes a matter of who said what to whom — in other words, it’s going to be your word against his.

Here are my suggestions:

  • Sit down with the contractor and discuss the problems. See if you can reach a compromise of some sort. It is very much in everyone’s best interests to calm down, take a deep breath and try to work something out. He may want out of this job just as much as you want him gone.
  • If that doesn’t work, then consult with an attorney to see what your exact legal status is, especially since he’s threatened a lawsuit (although my gut feeling is that this is just a scare tactic). Since a licensed contractor is forbidden in most states from doing work without a written contract, the person you hired may have a problem on his hands as well, so you will also want to clarify that.
  • Please learn from this mistake. In the future, never undertake construction work of any kind without a written contract.

Q: I am installing an electric oven/microwave combo into my new cherry cabinet. The oven instructions suggest to slide it in and screw in the mount brackets. My question is: The oven weighs 230 pounds and I do not see the "face" of the cabinet supporting the entire oven, (no bottom support). Now, the oven manufacturer also recommends at least 4 inches from the bottom of the oven to the bottom of cabinet — thus not being able to put a shelf in for support. What do you recommend?

A: Typically, what the oven manufacturer is referring to is clearance between the bottom of the oven door and anything below it, such as the top of a drawer. However, the oven manufacturers understand that the oven needs a lot more support than just the cabinet face frame, and there will be a specific set of instructions packaged with the oven that shows where the supports should go.

What I have seen over the years is either a plywood bottom in the cabinet that the oven slides directly onto, or a plywood panel with "2-by" lumber pieces on top that are installed in a particular spot so that they support the oven’s feet.

In addition, the oven is typically screwed to the face or inside edge of the face frame (or both) to provide additional resistance against tipping when the oven door is opened. With cherry or any hardwood, be sure you predrill the cabinets.

Remodeling and repair questions? E-mail Paul at paulbianchina@inman.com.


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