How to add metal sheeting to cabinet doors

September 08, 2014

I took a break from everything DIY until yesterday when I installed the herringbone tile on the fireplace surround (check out Instagram to see the progress!) – it went so much easier than I thought it would and I LOVE IT. I can’t wait to show you! But first I need to grout, seal and caulk everything. 

Last week I worked on the doors to the cabinets quite a bit. If you remember we had the guys install these next to the fireplace to hold the TV electronics and other goodies:
built ins for electronics
Yet again I used kitchen cabinets to do this. :) OF COURSE I DID. They’re cheap and so easily customizable – can you blame me? 

I needed them to to be deeper than 12 inches (they come in 12 and 24 inches deep at the store and 24 was too deep) so the guys made some tweaks (built in the shelves, extended the sides) that turned out SO good. They are now about 18 inches deep and you would never know they are kitchen cabinets! 

Because we were putting the electronics in there I knew we couldn’t keep the doors as they were. They need to have air circulation to breathe – keeping them too hot will wear out the electronics much faster.
I asked numerous experts about this before I went ahead by the way – all said this solution would work fine. Since all the TV stuff was moved over we have had the doors completely off so last week I started the process of opening up the middle part:
cutting insert out of cabinet door
These are cheaper doors so this process is much easier than say, with our kitchen cabinets where there really isn’t an “insert” – those are a lot nicer. The process will still be the same but on our kitchen cabinets I’d have to be a lot more careful with the jigsaw. 

The first step was to drill some big holes for my jigsaw to get into. I did it in a few spots on the door:
cutting insert out of cabinet door
Here’s a closer look:
cutting insert out of cabinet door
And then I took the jigsaw and cut the whole piece out. 

This was my fourth door and by this one I had figured out a good method – I would cut close to the sides but not all the way up against them:
cutting insert out of cabinet door
That way I just had some thin slivers of wood to pull out. The thinner pieces were much easier to pull out and break if necessary. Does that make sense? 

If you cut further away from the edges you can’t get good leverage to pull them out:
cutting insert out of cabinet door
I just used a wrench and grabbed the wood till it broke and came out. On a few spots I’d have to use the jigsaw and cut up the edge as far as I could and then pull again so it would break. But once you get one piece out the rest come out fairly easily. 

On a couple doors I had some stubborn spots that just wouldn’t budge:

So I just pushed them back in and sanded them down. You don’t see them later anyway (I’ll show that in a bit). 

Again, a nicer cabinet door won’t have the piece that you can just pull out like this, but if you’re using unfinished cabinets like this it will work fine. Nicer doors will need to be cut right up to the edge – say if you’re adding glass to a door. 

Because I needed something that would circulate air flow I knew I wanted to use the radiator metal sheeting – I LOVE this stuff. It’s not cheap, but I was able to get two doors out of one sheet and only had four doors. 

It’s easily cut – I used my plastic scissor things from Bed Bath and Beyond (I use these for everything) and it cut it really well:
cutting radiator metal sheeting
This stuff isn’t super sharp but you probably want to wear some gloves if you’ve never cut metal.

I cut out each piece so that it was a bit bigger than the opening – making sure I had enough overlap to secure it to the back of the door:

I cut out around the hinges:
storage for tv electronics
And then I grabbed these small nails I already had – they just happened to be perfect for securing it to the back:
decorative insert in cabinet doors
It took some trial and error to find a sweet spot to nail them in – if I went too close to the opening you could see the tip of the nail on the other side. 

So I would move out just a bit and nail every few inches or so:

It worked great! 

You can see that I had already painted the door frames before I installed this – it would be a major pain with it already on there. 

From the front it looked fine but I knew I wanted to cover the area where the insert used to be:

Tiny little molding to the rescue! :) This is really itty bitty stuff I got at Lowe’s:

I used my nail gun to install it over those open areas:

I used wood glue as well – some of my nails were coming out the back of the door so that was another trial and error thing to figure out exactly where to nail. 

But they turned out SO good! I love the look!:
metal sheeting on cabinet doors for electronics
I considered spray painting the metal a warmer color but when I tried it it looked weird so they’ll stay – I like how they are as is. 

I love the design and it definitely helps keep things cool inside the cabinet. The other side has the same sheeting even though nothing is plugged in there – but they do offer enough privacy that you don’t see every little thing:
radiator metal on cabinet doors
The inside of that cabinet still needs to be painted and the whole built in needs some more spackle and one more coat of paint – so it’s not totally done just yet. But it’s CLOSER! :) 

Have you ever installed your own glass or insert into a cabinet? For glass the process would be similar – you’d just need to glue the glass down to the back and then cover the edges with small trim.

See the full fireplace built in with storage reveal here! 
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  1. Nice job! And I really like the hardware/handles on the cabinets too!

  2. Love it Sarah!! You are sooo talented!!
    Take care! Kathy

  3. Do you think the remote will work through the doors, or will you have to open them to access the components?

    1. Mindie, good point. I forgot to mention we have an app on our phone now that we use for the electronics. I'll have to see if the remotes work and I'll let you know.

    2. Curious about this as well Sarah. Some friends of mine are looking to build a TV stand and loved the look of this mesh, but were wondering about remotes working with it.

  4. That looks amazing! I love the cabinet color combined with the metal screen. I can wait to see the whole wall with the tiled fireplace too! I have fireplace envy! Haha

  5. That is absolutely beautiful. I think you should come to my house and help us and I LOVE those shoes!!!!!!

  6. What a great idea! I do love the sheet look as well. The paint choice is going to look great with your tile. I can not wait to see the finished product. Thank you for the tutorial.

  7. These are amazing! Beautiful contrast. Checked your Instagram photo - oh my! The herringbone is gorgeous, timeless and classy! Way to go, Sarah!

  8. Love the way it turned out but I think the door handles should be lower.

  9. I've looked for the gray color that was used, but can't find it! Please let me know. thank you!

  10. I am impressed by your latest project. The door inserts look wonderful with the dark gray paint and your area rug. My hands/fingers would have been sliced into a kajillion pieces, even with gloves!!

  11. I LOVE this idea! Love the colors and the radiator metal sheeting - who would have thought? I'm loving this for a space upstairs at my house - and I'm also SO inspired to rip off my carpet on our stairs now that I saw you do it!! Thank you :)

  12. Wow! Love those doors!

  13. I saw a similar project to this on Rehab Addict TV show. Great job!

  14. I did the same project as you with taking out the centers of the cabinets. I found that when I used my drill and drilled a couple of holes (not too deep) down where the pieces of wood were stuck inside the frames, it helped to pull them out and looks cleaner. That way, I could insert my decorative metal sheets into the framework with trim on backside to hold it in. Looks clean that way as well. Just an another idea.


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