A fridge panel is a type of wood furniture positioned over the refrigerator to create a built-in appearance. A fridge is often the most significant and most noticeable appliance in the kitchen. Suppose you’re concerned your refrigerator or its placement could dominate your kitchen layout, or you do not prefer today’s popular appliance finishes. In that case, we suggest looking into fridge panels. Let’s see how to install refrigerator door panels.
Panel-ready refrigerators can accept wood appliance panels to coordinate with the kitchen cabinetry. Fridge panels allow your refrigerator to look like part of the cabinets. They will help this large kitchen appliance feel less noticeable and more seamless with the rest of the kitchen design.
This article will guide you through the steps needed to install refrigerator door panels to make your kitchen appearance more elegant and artful.
Some refrigerators have trim that allows you to put the custom panel into place quickly. Some other models have rounded edges or no trim, but this type can also be adapted for panels using adhesive strips. There are kits available for almost every model, and if you cannot find a suitable kit for your model, you can order a cabinetmaker to make it for you. Don’t worry. We will show you exactly how to equip the panels for both fridge types.
Further reading: Which Refrigerator is the Best for a Family with 4-5 Members?
How to install refrigerator door panels
Things you will need to install refrigerator door panels
Before running into these steps, you will have to get two things:
- A screwdriver
- Adhesive strips, 1 1/2-by-3-inch
Both can easily be found in any supermarket or electric store.
Models with kits
- Loosen the two screws securing the highest trim piece to the highest of the refrigerator door with a screwdriver. Loosen the two screws securing the underside trim piece to the door. If screws are securing the trim on the handle side of the door, remove them altogether.
- Hold the trim piece on the side of the door near the highest. Pull and tilt the trim piece from the top and remove it altogether. If it’s stiff, wiggle it gently to free it, then pull it out.
- From where you removed the trim, slide the 1/4-inch-thick panel into place. There is a small channel on the highest and bottom trim piece for this purpose.
- Push the side trim back into place, letting the leading, flat edge slide under the lip on the highest and underside trim pieces. Replace the screws on the flank piece and ensure that they’re tight enough. Tighten the screws at the highest and bottom to complete.
Models without kits
- Place the refrigerator panel bottom up on a level surface. Peel the backs from 20 adhesive strips, measuring 1 1/2-by-3-inch each.
- Put six strips, 1/4 inch from the edge of the vertical sides of the panel, evenly spaced from each other. Place two adhesive panels, evenly spaced, 1/4-inch from the border at the highest and bottom.
- Place four more evenly spaced and centered strips in a row between the two rows of adhesive strips along the sides. Peel the paper backing from every single strip.
- Ensure the panel is centered on the fridge door. Use your fingers to press the panel into place, from the underside first, then to the top. Square the board with the door as you continue to push the panel into place from top to bottom. Press it on lightly to confirm that it’s square with the door. If it isn’t, square it up. Finally, use your hands to press the panel randomly to bond the adhesive strips on both sides to the door and panel.
1/4-inch panels are often chosen for refrigerator panels since they are lightweight. If you are going to use anything heavier, such as 3/4-inch-thick panels, you should confirm with the manufacturer first to ensure that it’s not overweight for the door.
Some useful tips
There could be many models out there. Each one could have a different design and layout. But the basic trim for wood panels should be in place for each manufacturer that offers a panel kit.
Please make sure they have finished or molded edges when ordering custom panels without a trim kit for a fridge.
If the fridge handle is removable, consider removing it first and then attaching the handle back onto the refrigerator after the panel is in place by drilling holes through it for the screws.
A panel ready fridge – Is it worth buying?
With a panel ready appliance, you are allowed to use a custom panel to be installed on the face front of the appliance. This installation usually matches the rest of your cabinetry. Actually, a panel ready fridge creates a consistent and esthetic look for the whole kitchen.
There are different sizes available for you to choose from. The most common widths are 24, 30, 36, 42, and 48 inches. Even when you have a nonstandard space, you’ll find others that can fit your needs.
Like traditional refrigerators, panel ready fridges are various in design types. The manufacturers consider both aesthetic and functional benefits to each type, so you just need to consider which look you like most and which one best fits your needs.
- Top freezer
- Bottom freezer
- French door
- Fridge and freezer drawers
The cost for a panel ready fridge may range from $4,000 to $10,000 or more. Its price depends on the design and features you like. Normally, a custom cabinet panel with simple designs will cheaper than the one with expensive hardware. In addition, you may have to pay for the delivery and installation fees.
As you see, the price for a panel ready fridge is rather expensive. Therefore, consider carefully you needs and financial budget before deciding to pick one.
You may also like: Best Top-Freezer Refrigerator without Ice Maker
Why should I buy a panel ready fridge?
Kitchen is the place that you spend most of your time there and a place where you get the biggest return on the investments you make. Therefore, if you love the look of integrated fridge, you should own a panel ready fridge.
Here are some practical reasons to think about:
- Not more expensive than other premium fridges
- A good choice if you don’t like the commercial look of a traditional fridge
- Make your home more valuable as your kitchen looks more esthetic
What are the factors I may not like a panel ready fridge?
A panel ready fridge brings lots of esthetic and functional benefits. However, you should consider the following reasons that you may not like a panel ready fridge.
It’s more expensive than a standard fridge. A panel ready fridge is considered a high-end, luxury item which is designed to be stylish and make the kitchen modern and esthetic. You need to pay for extra installation costs and additional purchases like the cabinetry or hardware for the door. While the traditional fridge does not require these expenses.
You will find it’s rather complicated to install. It does not like the traditional fridge that can easily fit the available space. A panel ready fridge needs a certain height ceiling, and the installing process requires specialized experience. Moreover, each brand may have different installation, so you may need a person who is familiar with the brand.
It’s more difficult to replace, once broken down. As the lifespan of a panel ready refrigerator can be 20 years. So, when you are looking for a replacement, it’s difficult for you to find that the standard widths and heights. Types and sizes may change after years.
The bottom line
Hope the above article will be helpful in renovating your refrigerator by installing refrigerator door panels.
A panel ready fridge can be an option as it can offer the type of a side-by-side design, bottom freezer, top freezer, or another popular style. However, you should consider seriously if you truly need it or not.
I hope you have a beautiful and different refrigerator.
1. Install Refrigerator Panels, homeguides.sfgate.com, Retrieved on Feb. 6, 2022
2. The Best Panel Ready Refrigerators, designerappliances.com, Retrieved on Feb. 5, 2022