Refacing your kitchen cabinets can make a dramatic difference in the look of your kitchen without the high cost of a full remodel. With some basic DIY skills, you can give your cabinets a fresh new look in a weekend. Here is a step-by-step guide to refacing your own cabinets.

What is Cabinet Refacing?

Cabinet refacing involves replacing the exposed portions of your existing cabinet boxes with new doors, drawers, and veneers. This gives you a completely updated look while keeping the existing cabinet box framework intact. It’s a great way to upgrade your kitchen on a budget.

The steps involved in cabinet refacing typically include:

  • Removing existing cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware
  • Prepping cabinet box surfaces by cleaning, sanding, and filling holes/imperfections
  • Applying new veneers and/or paint to exposed cabinet box surfaces
  • Installing new cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware

Refacing can transform the look of your kitchen for a fraction of the cost of new cabinets. The project can usually be completed over a weekend with some basic DIY skills.

Benefits of Refacing Your Cabinets

Here are some of the benefits of refacing vs. replacing your cabinets:

  • Cost savings – Refacing costs about 50% less than new custom cabinetry
  • Time savings – Refacing can be completed in a few days rather than weeks
  • Custom look – Door/drawer styles can be mixed and matched for a custom look
  • Color change – Easily update to a new on-trend painted finish
  • Less waste – Refacing recycles existing cabinet boxes

As long as your cabinet boxes are structurally sound, refacing is a great option for affordably upgrading your kitchen.

Planning Your Cabinet Refacing Project

Careful planning is key to a smooth and successful refacing project. Here are some important steps:

Choose a Refacing Style

There are a few approaches to refacing:

  • Door replacement only – Just replace existing doors and drawer fronts
  • Veneered panels – Apply veneers over exposed cabinet box surfaces
  • Painted finish – Apply new paint or stain over existing cabinet surfaces

Consider your budget, the condition of your boxes, and the look you want. Many projects use a combination of approaches.

Select New Materials

For doors, drawers and veneers, you can choose from wood, thermofoil, or laminate. Hinges, pulls and knobs come in a wide variety of styles and finishes. Browse online or at home improvement stores for inspiration.

Measure Carefully

Take detailed measurements of each cabinet door, drawer, and box area to be refaced. This will ensure you order the correct sizes.

Match Cabinet Interiors

If staining or painting, match your cabinet interiors, trim, and cabinet backs to your new exterior color for a cohesive look.

Order Materials

Order all new materials including doors, veneered panels, hardware, paint/stain, tools, and adhesives. This will ensure everything is on hand when you start the project. Allow several weeks for delivery.

How to Reface Kitchen Cabinets

Once you’ve planned your project, you’re ready to get started! Here are the basic steps:

1. Remove Doors and Hardware

Remove all existing doors, drawers, and hardware. Set them aside protected. Label them clearly so you can reinstall in the same spots.

2. Clean Surfaces

Thoroughly clean cabinet box interiors and exteriors with a degreasing cleaner. Lightly sand to help new paint/stain adhere.

3. Prep for Paint or Veneer

  • For painting, apply painter’s tape around edges and fill any holes/imperfections.
  • For veneering, ensure surfaces are smooth and glue-ready.

4. Paint or Apply Veneers

  • For painted cabinets, apply two coats of high-quality cabinet paint, allowing proper dry time between coats.
  • For veneers, carefully apply adhesive and veneer panels using a veneer roller.

5. Install New Doors/Drawers

Once paint is cured or veneer panels are secured, install the new doors, drawers, and hardware using provided instructions.

6. Add Finishing Touches

Reattach any previously removed trim, fill any gaps with caulk, add backsinks, and touch up paint if needed.

And that’s it – stand back and admire your amazing “new” cabinets!

Tips for a Successful Refacing Project

Follow these tips for the smoothest process and best results:

  • Work in a dust-free area to avoid debris sticking to unfinished surfaces.
  • Take your time removing old hardware to avoid damage.
  • Check door/drawer fit and make any hinge adjustments before finishing.
  • Use painter’s tape for the cleanest paint lines.
  • Allow proper dry time between paint coats.
  • Apply veneers slowly with a plastic smoother to avoid bubbles and gaps.
  • Ensure new hardware placements line up with existing holes. Fill as needed.
  • Work methodically one cabinet at a time for the most organized workflow.

Refacing Your Cabinets FAQ

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about refacing kitchen cabinets:

How long does it take to reface cabinets?

Most cabinet refacing projects take 2-5 days from start to finish. Experienced DIYers may be able to complete in a long weekend.

Can I change the layout or add cabinets?

Refacing only upgrades the exterior look. For layout changes or additions, a full cabinet replacement would be required.

What about my cabinet interiors?

For a coordinated look, you’ll want to match your cabinet interiors and backs to your new exterior color using paint or interior veneers.

What are the best materials for refacing?

It depends on your budget! Thermofoil and laminate are affordable options. Solid wood offers a premium look for more money.

Should I refinish or replace my countertops?

If your countertops are dated, it’s a great time to refinish or replace them to match your new cabinets.

How much does it cost to reface kitchen cabinets?

On average, expect to pay $2,500-5,000 for refacing an average sized kitchen. Higher for larger/more complex projects.

Refacing Your Cabinets is an Affordable Kitchen Upgrade

Replacing your cabinet doors, drawers, and exterior surfaces is an extremely cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh new look compared to a full replacement. With some handy DIY skills and the right materials, you can reface your outdated cabinets affordably in a short timeframe. Use this guide to tackle this project step-by-step and transform your kitchen in a weekend. Soon you’ll have a beautiful new kitchen to enjoy for years to come!