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Reface or Replace?
When thinking about making some style changes to your kitchen, you may be considering replacing your cabinets. “Reface or replace” is the prominent question when considering which direction to go.

Before ripping out your current kitchen cabinets and getting into a complicated remodel project you may want to consider refacing, or refinishing your current cabinets. Refacing and refinishing are more economical alternatives to replacing them entirely, especially if you’re already happy with the layout of your kitchen the way it is.

So what’s the difference between refacing cabinets, and refinishing?

  • Cabinet refacing, or sometimes referred to as cabinet resurfacing, is an increasingly popular consideration for homeowners. It should be known before one considers refacing, it is not uncommon for homeowners to want to salvage their existing cabinetry with the thought that it will save money, when actually purchasing new cabinets for some kitchens is often a better value. A reface, by definition, means “to renew, restore, or repair the face or surface of,” so nothing is done to any part of the cabinets except the face and sides of the existing cabinet boxes. The inside is not altered, including the inside portion of the face frame, or the top or undersides of the cabinets. Refacing cabinets is a process in which the existing cabinet doors, hinges, drawer fronts, all moldings and trim are removed, and then the cabinet framework is sanded and prepared to be resurfaced with laminate or real wood veneer material in your choice of specie and stain color. The existing cabinet boxes are kept, but all the cabinet doors, hinges, and drawers fronts are replaced. It is also possible to replace all of the old drawer boxes and hardware with new dovetail solid wood drawer boxes and updated, full-extension, soft close hardware. Other options include installing new crown molding and new decorative door and drawer hardware.

  • Cabinet refinishing means all existing cabinet components are kept (e.g. doors, hinges, drawer fronts, moldings) and the color of the finish is changed, often completed via hand sanding or by chemically stripping the existing finish from the wood, then applying a new paint or stain.

Deciding which is right for you
When deciding between kitchen cabinet refinishing or refacing cabinets there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re considering refinishing but your cabinets are made of laminate or thermofoil, it is not an option because these materials cannot be sanded or stripped and it’s nearly impossible for the paint to stick.

If you have wood cabinets you can refinish or reface. If you’re content with your current kitchen’s layout, but dislike your cabinets’ current style you may want to consider resurfacing the kitchen cabinets.

If budget is your main consideration, refinishing is often the cheaper option. Estimates have shown that refinishing cabinets costs about two-thirds the cost of refacing; meanwhile refacing is about 70 to 80 percent the cost of installing new cabinets. One of the main money-saving factors is that you don’t have to replace your countertop or flooring, also no changes need to be made to your existing electrical, plumbing, natural gas or lighting (although changes can be made depending on how major they are).

A typical refacing candidate has cabinets that are in good shape structurally, have already had a new countertop installed recently, are happy with the current kitchen layout, and are looking to change the style of the kitchen by choosing a different door style and moldings, specie and stain color.

We hope this helps you in your decision process. We are available to help you further by visiting your home or jobsite to evaluate your particular situation.