Specialty Spotlight: Cabinet Refacing

by Matt Solis


Cabinet refacing is a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a new look. Photo: Century Cabinets ©2018

A complete kitchen renovation is expensive. The average cost is about $23,000, with high-end transformations costing upward of $50,000. The priciest part of these renovations is the cabinetry, as it requires significant planning, resources and labor to install. However, homeowners looking to save money and time may find that cabinet refacing is an easier and less expensive option for achieving the results they want.

What is cabinet refacing?

Cabinet refacing is a method of updating your cabinets without enduring the expense and hassle of ripping out the old ones. It’s different from simply painting over the old cabinets. During refacing, workers remove doors and drawers, sand down all the original cabinet surfaces, and then carefully adhere precisely cut wood veneers to the cabinet exteriors. New drawers and door faces are installed matching the new color and texture. Homeowners have a variety of veneers to choose from, as well as door styles, hinges and handles. Homeowners may also choose to add moldings or other decorative touches to complete the look of their “new” cabinets.

Cabinet refacing can occur on its own or be part of a larger kitchen remodeling project. Even if you plan to build an island, add a backsplash or make other significant changes to your kitchen, you can still incorporate cabinet refacing as part of the plans. You can even choose to reface some cabinets and replace others. A kitchen remodeling contractor can help you understand the process, and there are even companies that specialize in cabinet refacing. If you think refacing is the right option for your kitchen, you’ll also want to visit a kitchen and bath showroom to choose your favorite styles and accessories.

Advantages of Cabinet Refacing

Refacing cabinets offers a number of advantages to homeowners who are looking to update their kitchens:

Cabinet refacing saves money. In general, refacing cabinetry costs about half as much as replacement. Because cabinets are the biggest part of a kitchen remodeling budget, this is a way for homeowners to significantly reduce their renovation expenditures.

Cabinet refacing saves time. Cabinet refacing can usually be completed in less than a week. During this time, homeowners will still have access to their appliances. Compared to a gut-renovation, the disruption to the daily routine is minimal.

You can still modernize your kitchen. Opting to reface cabinetry rather than replace does not mean homeowners are stuck living with an outmoded kitchen. When refacing, you can still integrate upgrades to your cabinetry. Soft-closing drawers, rotating storage shelves and other features can help give your kitchen a modern feel.

When You Can’t Reface Cabinets

Cabinet refacing isn’t a solution for every homeowner. Depending on the scope of your renovations and the state of the original cabinets, refacing may not allow you to achieve your kitchen renovation goals. Cabinet refacing won’t work for these situations:

Poor kitchen layout
Cabinet refacing is only an option if you generally like the layout of your kitchen. If you need to change the location of cabinets or appliances, you’ll need to replace the cabinetry.

Low-quality cabinets
If your cabinets were improperly constructed or built using low-quality materials, most contractors will advise you to replace rather than reface. There’s no advantage to spending money on a cabinet solution that won’t last for long.

Damaged cabinets
Cabinets that have suffered water, fire or mold damage need to be removed. Refacing isn’t an option if there are significant structural problems.

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