Cabinet Makeover – Replace, Refacing or Refinishing

Cabinet Makeover – Replace, Refacing or Refinishing

When it’s time for a cabinet makeover, you have to think about which option you want to do. Should you replace, reface or refinish?


When it’s time to get a new look in your kitchen or bathroom, cabinets really make the difference! But not everyone wants to replace all their cabinets, or do a full remodel on their kitchen or bathroom. So what alternatives are you left with, cabinet resurfacing or cabinet refacing. What’s the difference? When should replace, or reface? Let us explain.


Cabinet refacing is when a cabinet is refaced with a laminate or wood veneer material that lays over the top of the existing framework. The current boxes stay put, but the door and drawer fronts are replaced with new ones. Side panels, face frames and moldings can also be replaced to be sure everything matches. By doing this, you can completely change the look of your kitchen by changing the design style and color of the door and drawer fronts. You can also choose to upgrade your hardware to finish off the look.


This is a great alternative to a full kitchen remodel, however, keep in mind the costs involved. Although you are only replacing the fronts on the cabinets and drawers, refacing can cost almost as much as getting all new cabinets including the boxes. Depending on your location and the remodeler you choose, refacing may only save you around 10% from a full cabinet remodel!


click to enlargecabinet makeover - refacing


The cheapest option is cabinet refinishing. This is where you keep all existing boxes, doors and drawer fronts, and simply change the color of your cabinets. This is done by sanding or stripping the existing wood, and painting or re-staining the door and drawer fronts. Some choose to take on this task as a DIY project or you can hire someone to do it as well. Either way, one thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t do the painting or staining right it can look very cheaply done and may look worse than you started! If you plan on hiring someone, do your research and make sure the contractor has experience with this and ask for examples of their work (before and after photos).


click to enlargecabinet makeover - refinishing


Cabinet replacing, this is just what it sounds like, replacing all your cabinets with new ones! Although this is the most expensive option, it may be necessary or desirable depending on how old your cabinets are and the condition they are in. Also keep in mind, if you want to replace your cabinets you will most likely have to also replace your counter tops since they are mounted together and the chances of being able to remove the existing counter tops without damage is pretty slim.

Now, to decide if you should replace, reface or refinish? Refinishing or Refacing is a good option if you don’t have an endless budget, and want a refreshed look to your kitchen. Another thing to consider is the cabinets themselves, are they high end cabinets, or cheap “home builder” cabinets. If they are high quality wood, then it is probably best to keep them and just do a refacing or refinishing job. If they are lower quality cabinets, then it would make more sense to just replace them. There is no point in spending money on a low quality item. Also if the boxes are worn out, or the faces of the drawers and/or cabinets are worn out, then there is no sense in covering it up with a bandaid so-to-speak. It would be money wasted. Cabinets that were built and installed prior to the 1980’s generally were made from a better quality wood than they are now. During this time ¾” plywood was actually ¾”, whereas nowadays it’s measuring a bit short!


With all this in mind, you can decide on which option is best for you. If you still aren’t sure, contact a contractor that does refacing or refinishing and get a free estimate or another opinion to see what your options are. Feel free to contact us here at Retro Pro Kitchen and Bath and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have! We do offer cabinet refacing, however we do not do cabinet refinishing.

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