Replace or reface? Considerations for refacing kitchen cabinets

When faced with a kitchen remodeling project, homeowners have two major options for updating kitchen cabinets — refacing or replacing. Both projects can significantly boost the appearance and value of the kitchen. However, many of the similarities end there.

Refacing typically consists of covering the exterior surfaces of your cabinets with new veneers, moldings and hardware. If your existing cabinets are solid wood, repainting or refinishing them with a new color of paint or stain can also update their appearance. A cabinet refacing or refinishing company also may give you the option of replacing doors, drawers and front and side panels.

Refacing/refinishing pros:

  • Reduced cost - kitchen cabinet refacing or refinishing can cost approximately 1/3 less than replacing all the cabinets
  • No demolition of existing cabinets is required, which also mean less potential damage to walls
  • Takes only a few days to complete


Refacing/refinishing cons:


  • Dust
  • Potential noxious fumes and odors
  • Limited customization options


When making a decision as to whether you should reface or replace your cabinets, also consider these factors:



Durability: Is the structure of the existing cabinets solid? If you have doubts about the overall condition of your cabinetry, an expert contractor can help you determine whether you need more than the cosmetic a refacing would provide.


Functionality: If you do not see any issues with your existing layout and would like to maintain the integrity of the design of your kitchen, refacing your cabinets may be the best choice. However, if you would prefer extra storage, more counter space or more flexible functions, new cabinets may be worth the extra investment in the long run.

Appearance: Are you replacing your kitchen appliances? Installing new countertops? If you have already committed to a significant investment in updating other parts of your kitchen, you may want to consult a highly rated kitchen remodeling company to determine if you would be better off with a complete renovation. It may be the case that the funds you would spend on a piece-meal approach may be better invested in new cabinets.

Budget:  If funds and time aren’t significant factors in your kitchen remodel, you may want to consider the additional options offered with replacements. The variety of new cabinetry is wide-ranging, with many selections available in both stock and custom offerings.

Costs also can vary widely. Pay careful consideration to construction, quality of materials, interior accessories, and door and drawer hardware. Also, be aware that installing new cabinets can be a much lengthier and involved project than refacing. Your access and use of the kitchen could also be extremely limited during the project.


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