How to Remove Kitchen Cabinets

If you need to remove your cabinets in your home for a renovation project, it may not be a good idea to take a sledgehammer and smash them up. Although you may see people on the television shows like Property Brothers on HGTV having fun destroying old cabinets, your cabinets may not warrant such tactics to remove them. So how do you remove cabinets from your kitchen in your home?

First, you should start with turning off all electricity, gas, and plumbing. Then you want to remove dishes, cleaning products, and other things you have in cabinets and drawers. Finally, you want to locate the screws holding the cabinets to each other and the wall and remove them.

how to remove kitchen cabinets

Aren’t you happy you don’t have to tear your cabinets up to get them off your wall? After all, you may need to resurface and reuse them for your kitchen, or you may want to sell them or give them away. And you don’t want to sell or gift someone smashed up cabinets.


When to Demo Your Cabinets

There are times when meticulously removing your cabinets from the wall isn’t necessary, however. In these instances, unleashing your inner beast by taking a sledgehammer and tearing into your cabinets may be a good idea. This is usually during an interior demolition. If you are doing a gut job in your kitchen and have no intentions of salvaging anything, this is the best time to smash away. Just be careful. Flying debris can be dangerous to you and your demo partner.

You don’t necessarily have to solicit the help of experts to do the demolition, either. However, if you are not sure of what you are doing, then it would be best to let the experts handle it. Then, of course, you can always ask them to let you beat up the cabinet with the sledgehammer if you still want to get your thrills. If you have an idea of what you should do, then go for it. Just be sure that there are no live wires or plumbing intact before you begin destroying your cabinets.

One thing you want to start with is getting appropriate dumpsters for your demolition. If you are demoing a kitchen, renting an ordinary dumpster for your cabinet debris may be all you need. However, if you have lead pipes, you may not be able to toss those in a dumpster. This may have to be hauled away or taken to a particular dumping area since it is hazardous.

If you don’t have to worry about damaging walls or floors and things because they will all, be replaced with new drywall and flooring, this is where all the fun begins! First, make sure you have proper ventilation in the area, so you won’t have to breathe in dust. Then, get your pry bar and sledgehammer and have fun! Start by removing the lower cabinets from the wall with a pry bar, and have fun beating those ugly, old-fashioned cabinets up with your sledgehammer. You can also beat up your countertops with the sledgehammer to get rid of them.

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Be careful with the upper cabinets because you don’t want to pry them from the wall and have them stub your toes or cause other injuries. It’s best to have a crew helping you so that they can help safely remove the upper cabinets. Then once, they are down, you can smash them, too!

Another More Civilized Way to Remove Kitchen Cabinets

If you are not the type to unleash your inner Tarzan and you want a much slower, organized approach to removing kitchen cabinets, then you will need to put the prybar and the sledgehammer away. This method is also helpful if you want to refurbish, sell, or give away cabinets and if you’re going to preserve the walls behind your cabinets so you can put up new ones.

Before getting started, it’s best to gather all the tools you need for the project. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting started with a project and not having all the tools you need and having to go out to a big box store to buy it. Good luck with that because it will be even more frustrating if you go to a big box store and find out that they don’t stock the tool you need, so you must order it. But for this project, the tools required may already be in your toolbox or should be relatively simple to acquire.


  • Screwdrivers or a drill
  • Pliers
  • Putty knife
  • Work gloves (optional)
  • Wrenches
  • Goggles
  • Prybar
  • Flashlights
  • Voltage detector pen

Start With Removing Dishes

It’s not advisable to leave the dishes in your cabinets when you are removing them. You don’t want them to come crashing down all over your workspace and risk injuring you or your crew in the process. Also, they make heavy cabinets even heavier. So, for obvious reasons, it’s best to remove your dishes from cabinets and store them away in another area until the work is complete in the kitchen.

Get the Appliances Out of The Way

Whether you plan to toss these out or reuse them, they don’t need to be in the way. So, it is best to get them out of the kitchen area before you get started. This will keep them from getting damaged or dusty while you are working on removing the cabinets in the kitchen. An excellent place to keep them in a garage if you will be working on the kitchen model for a few days. However, if you plan to remove cabinets and replace them with new ones in a short time, then pushing them into another room, like the living room or dining room, may be a more accessible option.

Turn Off All Things That May Spray, Electrocute, or Cause an Explosion

Whether you are demoing kitchen cabinets or meticulously removing them, it is critical that you shut off things in your kitchen, such as the electricity, the pipes, or gas lines. Shutting the electricity off is a matter of simply finding the power box and switching off the ones associated with the kitchen. Or to be doubly safe, you can cut off the entire breaker box just in case various components in your kitchen have different connections, such as the kitchen in general, oven, dishwasher, or other labels. If you need light, you can always use high-powered flashlights.

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It would be best if you also were mindful of turning off your water. Unless you want to take a shower while removing cabinets, it will behoove you to do so. Another essential thing to turn off is your gas valve. This will likely be connected to your stove if you have a gas stove. If you don’t have a gas stove, you don’t have to worry about this. However, having gas leaking can be very dangerous. So, make sure that this is off.

Dealing Carefully With Pipes

You will have to be careful with pipes, particularly if you plan to salvage them. Pipes may have to be removed during your cabinet removal process. You can use wrenches and pliers to remove them. However, if you do not know anything about plumbing, it’s best to call out a plumber to handle this part of the job. Upon finishing your project, whether removing and replacing cabinets or remodeling the kitchen, just call the plumber back out to put the pipes back in place. If you realize that you have lead pipes or you have pipes that are outdated, corroded, or faulty, it’s a good idea to replace them with new pipes such as Polyvinyl Chloride Piping (PVC), copper, or Cross-Linked Polyethylene Piping (PEX).

Remove Sinks and Oven Ranges

Sometimes you will have things like sinks or electric cooktops embedded in the countertops attached to your cabinet fixtures. If you haven’t done this already, make sure that the power supply in the breaker box is shut off before attempting to remove the cooktop. You will also need to remove the electrical wiring, which may not be as simple as unplugging it. Therefore, you may have to get the help of an electrician or someone who knows how to unhook the wiring and put it back correctly.  Sinks should be relatively easy if you remember to remove the connections. You can use a putty knife to loosen the sink from the countertop. You may have to lightly tap the putty knife with your hammer to loosen the silicon or other adhesive holding it into place. Push the sink up from the bottom, and once it is up by a few inches, you can resume removing it from the top. This can be placed to the side with your other appliances if you plan to reuse it. Or you can toss it in the dumpster if you don’t want to reuse it.

Work Top To Bottom

Once you have dealt with all the other things not related to the cabinet, now it’s finally time to get to work removing the cabinets. It’s best to work from the top to the bottom because the bottom cabinets can help keep the top cabinets from falling to the floor and getting damaged during removal.

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This is especially important if you want to reuse these cabinets. Before starting, it may be best to use a tarp or some type of plastic or cloth covering on your lower cabinets. This will protect your countertops while you are removing the top cabinets. Also, remove any lighting underneath the cabinets. Finally, check to make sure the voltage isn’t live with a voltage pen before detaching.

Another technique you can use to keep your top cabinets from crashing down onto the bottom ones is to include a buffer such as a plastic bucket. This will allow the cabinet to slide down and hit the bucket instead of your countertop and prevent denting or scratching it. When you are ready to remove cabinets, it’s best to have someone to help because the cabinets may be too heavy to handle on your own.

Take Off Cabinet Doors

Before removing your cabinets, one of the best things you should do is remove the cabinet doors.

You don’t want these swinging or otherwise in the way as you remove the larger component of the cabinet. Instead, you can use a screwdriver or a drill to remove the cabinet doors. If you are concerned about putting the cabinets back where they should go, then you can use some color-coded dots from an office supply store to make sure the doors that you remove match with the proper cabinet.

You may also want to get some other labels to write the cabinet’s position on the label so that you can put the cabinet back in the right place. Of course, the smaller cabinets don’t need a label because they will go back above the refrigerator. However, you can label the cabinet you are removing as top right, middle, and so on to remain organized. This only matters if you plan to reuse the cabinets. It may be helpful to put these labels on the bottom or top of the cabinet if you plan to repaint them or resurface them. This will keep the labels from being destroyed or knocked off.

Unscrew Cabinets From Each Other, Then From The Walls

One important thing to keep in mind whether you are removing top cabinets or bottom cabinets is to remove cabinets from each other first before attempting to remove them from the wall. If you keep them connected to each other, then it makes removal more strenuous. Taking them apart by unscrewing them from each other allows you to remove them one by one. Like with upper cabinets, with lower cabinets, you want to make sure that the cabinets are unscrewed from each other and from the walls. When removing them, you will have to gently pop them out of place with a prybar, doing your best to avoid damaging the wall or the flooring.