How to Add Glass to Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Kitchen cabinets in need of an update? Adding glass inserts offers a bright, airy, modern feel. For those that suffer from design "restlessness," they’re also an easy way to allow for a change of scheme, with quick color changes instantly achieved via dishware or holiday décor.

There Are Many Options for Kitchen Cabinet Glass Inserts:

Anyone can quickly and inexpensively update cabinets doors with custom-looking glass inserts in a variety of styles…

  • Plexiglass
    Lightweight yet durable, acrylic is easy to work with, and favored for DIY glass projects. Choose pieces carefully to avoid visual distortion. Cleaning with care is also essential to avoid scratches and cracks.
  • Transparent Glass
    Display anything, yet keep it safe from dust and breakage. A great choice for minimalist designs and small kitchens.  
  • Frosted Glass
    Camouflage the mess, while still retaining the capacity to display silhouettes and colors.
  • Seeded Glass
    Offering slightly less camouflage than frosted options, the bubbled, wavy look of seeded glass suits vintage and traditional decors, but can also add interest in modern settings.
  • Textured Glass
    Simple, classic patterns offer visual and tactile interest.
  • Decorative Glass Inserts
    Decorative inserts such as stained and tinted options provide an elegant, artisanal look in vintage or traditional kitchen designs.

DIY Cabinet Glass Insert Installation

As expected, the path to successful insert installation is dependent on glass style, and requires a few basic tools. You can cut plexiglass yourself to save money, or have glass professionally cut to your project size.

  • Tools/Materials
    • Safety glasses & hearing protection
    • Glass inserts
    • Drill
    • Jigsaw (circular saw, or handsaw)
    • Utility or plastic cutting knife (for plexiglass installations)
    • Router and ½-inch router bit with bearing roller/guide on TOP (for glass installations)
    • Painters tape
    • Clear silicone caulk (plexi) or glass clips
    • Molding
    • Cordless drill/screwdriver
    • Pliers
    • Wood chisel
    • Yardstick/measuring tape
    • Carpenter’s square/straight-edge
  1. Remove doors.
    Place hardware (hinges, knobs) in plastics bags and clearly label. Label doors and openings using painter’s tape for easy re-assembly. Watch for and pull any finishing nails. (They will damage your expensive router bit.)
  2. Measure.
    Remove doors, measuring the width of the groove on the cabinet interior, then the depth of the groove.
  3. Mark.
    Using your carpenter’s square, mark the interior of the door to the depth of the groove measured above, ensuring equidistance on each side of the rectangle/square.
  4. Cut.
    • For Plexi: Clamp the door to your work surface, and using a circular or jigsaw, cut carefully to the depth measured and marked in the previous steps.
    • For Glass Installations: Making a guide with straight, smooth plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) to allow for the depth of your pattern bit, nail layers together to make guides, positioning them ½-inch from inner edges and clamping firmly in place. Support outer edges with wood strips that match cabinet door thickness. Clamp the door itself in place, then cut the lip with a router and ½-inch pattern bit, typically found at woodworking stores. Adjust cutting depth until bit just touches the panel. Cut away the lips on 2 sides, then reposition guides for the remaining two.
  5. Chisel.
    Knock corners free with your chisel.
  6. Remove the wood.
    Carefully pry the wood panel free from the cabinet, applying a few light hammer taps if necessary.
  7. Measure insert dimensions.
    Your plexi or glass insert dimensions must match your cut glass insert exactly.
  8. Cut (or order) glass.
    Transfer insert dimensions to your plexiglass. Score it halfway through with a cutting/utility knife, then snap on the lines. For true glass, you will need to order your chosen glass inserts and have them cut to size.
  9. Apply caulk or glass clips.
    Apply silicone caulk to the inside perimeter of the door frame, or screw in glass clips no farther than 12-inches apart. 
  10. Insert glass and reassemble.
    Carefully insert your chosen glass into the frame, pressing it firmly into place with caulk or securing with glass clips (if glass rattles, a dab of hot glue will do the trick). For plexi, wipe away excess silicone, and allow to dry. Rehang cabinets using the hardware removed in Step 1. 

Ready to insert yourself into a new kitchen design? Do you feel like this is a bigger project than you thought? The experts at Glass Doctor can help. Contact us today