Kitchen cabinet refacing is a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh, updated look without the expense of a full kitchen remodel. Refacing involves replacing the doors, drawers, and hardware on existing cabinet boxes while keeping the underlying framework intact. This allows you to change the style and finish of your cabinets for a fraction of the cost of installing brand new cabinetry. Refacing is an ideal solution if your cabinets are structurally sound but looking dated.
Benefits of Kitchen Cabinet Refacing
Refacing your kitchen cabinets offers numerous benefits:
The biggest advantage of refacing over replacing is cost. On average, refacing costs about 50% less than a full cabinet replacement project. By keeping your existing cabinet boxes, you avoid the high cost of removing and installing new cabinetry and modifying countertops or appliances to fit new layouts. Refacing is very budget-friendly.
Faster Project Timeline
A kitchen remodel can take weeks or months. Refacing takes just a few days, as there is no need to demolish and reconstruct cabinets. Most refacing projects are completed within 3-5 days. This means significantly less disruption to your home and daily routine.
Refacing lets you update the look of your kitchen with the latest styles and finishes. Choose new stains, paint colors, materials like wood, laminate or thermofoil. Opt for flat panel doors, Shaker cabinets, inset cabinetry and other trends. The end result is a custom kitchen refresh at a fraction of the price of new cabinets.
Retain Existing Cabinet Footprint
With refacing, you keep your existing cabinet layout. There is no need to alter cabinet positions or change the workflow in your kitchen. This avoids headaches like misaligned countertops or appliances not fitting. Simply update the aesthetic, not your kitchen’s footprint.
Refacing is a greener, more sustainable option as it reuses your existing cabinet framework. It generates far less construction waste than a full replacement. And by keeping your current footprint, there is no need to produce brand new cabinets from scratch. Refacing is kind on both the environment and your wallet.
Easier Installation Process
Unlike time-intensive remodeling, refacing is a relatively simple installation. No need to rip out and replace cabinet boxes, which minimizes construction work. Existing cabinets provide the underlying support, so new doors, drawers and hardware simply get attached to the framework. The process moves along quickly.
How Much Does it Cost to Reface Kitchen Cabinets?
Kitchen cabinet refacing costs $2,500 to $5,000 for an average 10×10 kitchen. On a per linear foot basis, expect to pay $100 to $250 per linear foot depending on materials. Key factors determining your total refacing costs include:
- Cabinet Material: Thermofoil and laminate options tend to cost $100-150 per linear foot. Wood veneer and solid wood options like oak or cherry run $200-250 per linear foot. More premium materials increase costs.
- Cabinet Doors/Drawers: Standard flat panel doors are the most affordable. More intricate raised panel, recessed panel, shaker styles or custom cabinet doors add expense. Drawers can add 10-20% over cabinet door costs.
- Hardware: Basic hardware like knobs and pulls are fairly inexpensive, $2-5 per piece. More ornate handles, hinges and pulls increase costs. builtins like soft-close hinges also add expense.
- Labor Costs: Refacing requires skilled carpenters. Rates range from $50 to $100 per hour. Total labor is 15-25 hours for a 10×10 kitchen.
- Existing Cabinet Condition: Refacing severely damaged or poorly constructed cabinets raises costs. Some repairs like securing loose boxes may be needed beforehand.
- Countertop Modifications: If altering countertops, costs for materials, templating and installation must be added. This can add thousands for materials like granite.
- Sales Tax: Average sales tax adds 8-10% on top of project costs.
When getting estimates, be sure quotes include taking off old doors/drawers, installing new ones, applying new finishes, installing any functional hardware like slides, hinges and pulls, and cleanup.
Refacing Process Step-By-Step
Refacing kitchen cabinets follows a clear start to finish process:
- Clear countertops and empty cabinets so refacing work can proceed unhindered. Remove any cabinet doors, drawers and hardware.
- Protect rest of kitchen – flooring, appliances etc – from dust and debris. Drop cloths, plastic sheeting, masking tape can help keep space clean.
- Inspect cabinets for damage, rot or structural issues needing repair before refacing. Make any necessary repairs so framework is sound.
Install New Drawers/Doors
- Measure each cabinet opening carefully so new doors and drawer fronts fit precisely. Custom sizing for each opening ensures a quality finished look.
- Install new drawer box fronts and doors using fasteners and adjustable European style hinges. Test fit doors and drawers to ensure proper alignment and closing.
Apply New Finish
- Thoroughly clean and sand existing cabinet frames, sides and faceframes in preparation for new finishes.
- Based on material selected – stain, paint, laminate etc – apply selected finishes neatly and smoothly using rollers, sprayers or by hand. Allow finishes to dry per manufacturer instructions.
- Finish interiors of cabinets as well for a fully updated look.
- Update hardware by installing new knobs, pulls, hinges and other functional elements like integrated storage solutions. Ensure hardware complements and aligns with new drawer fronts and doors.
- Use precise measurements and a level to align hardware. Pay close attention to hinge placements and alignments to ensure proper door closing.
- Reinstall any shelving, interior fittings or appliances to finish reassembly.
- Touch up any minor finish flaws and clean thoroughly. Remove protective coverings and construction debris.
- Enjoy your beautiful new kitchen! Now is a great time to update accessories like rugs, lighting and window treatments to your new style.
Proper planning, preparation and attention to detail ensures a seamless and successful refacing project. Investing in an experienced cabinet refacing contractor is recommended unless you are highly skilled at carpentry finishing work.
What Finish Options Are Available for Refacing?
One of the biggest benefits of refacing is the wide variety of finish options available to transform the look of your kitchen. Popular refacing finish choices include:
Painting over existing cabinet surfaces allows for unlimited color options. From white and black to bold hues and everything between, painted cabinets can be adapted to almost any style. Consider sheens too – higher gloss for durability and scrubbability, or matte finishes for understated elegance. Distressing techniques like glazing can also add antique character.
Stain opens up rich wood looks impossible with paint. Opt for lighter whitewashed appearances or dramatic dark walnut finishes. Stains allow the natural wood grain to show through for added interest. Consider gel stains for easier, more controlled application. Top coating with a sealer ensures durability.
Thermofoil doors consist of a solid wood frame wrapped in a thermally fused vinyl film. Hundreds of finish options are available. Thermofoil is very durable and resistant to cracking, chipping and peeling from moisture. Easy to clean. Thermofoil offers the look of real wood at a lower cost.
Laminate cabinet surfaces consist of a printed decorative paper fused to a wood substrate under high heat and pressure. Formica is one common brand. Laminate allows mimicking looks like wood and stone affordably. Great durability for families and heavy use.
Real wood veneer applies thin wood slices to a core substrate like MDF or plywood. Provides the warmth and depth of real wood at a lower cost than solid wood. Different wood types like oak, hickory and alder are available to suit any style.
Should I Reface or Replace Kitchen Cabinets?
Deciding between refacing your kitchen cabinets or doing a full replacement comes down to evaluating your goals, priorities and budget:
- Cost – As previously noted, refacing generally costs about 50% less than new cabinet installation. If budget is a major concern, refacing provides big savings.
- Condition of Existing Cabinets – Refacing only makes sense if your underlying cabinets are structurally sound. Severely damaged or poorly constructed boxes will still have issues after refacing. Replacement is likely the better option.
- Desired Changes – If you wish to reconfigure your entire kitchen layout with different sizes, cabinet configurations or structural changes, replacement will be required to accommodate this flexibility.
- Material Upgrades – Refacing allows surface-level material upgrades like new laminate or wood veneer finishes. For solid hardwood cabinetry construction, replacement is the better option.
- Timeline – Refacing can generally be completed in a few days. Full kitchen remodeling can take weeks or months. If living without a kitchen for an extended period is not feasible, refacing has a clear advantage.
Consider whether your goals center around cosmetic upgrades to finishes and hardware vs. functional upgrades best achieved through new cabinet installation. Refacing makes the most sense for surface style improvements, while replacement accommodates more extensive modifications.
Finding Professional Kitchen Cabinet Refacers
Seeking out reputable professional refacing services is highly recommended unless you are an experienced carpenter. Warning signs of amateur refacing work include:
- Misaligned doors and drawer fronts
- Improperly installed hinges leading to crooked hanging doors
- Poorly matching new finishes where old meets new surfaces
- Damage caused to existing cabinets during installation
Quality indicators to look for when hiring a pro refacer:
- An established track record of many years in business and hundreds of finished refacing projects
- Knowledge of the latest materials, trends and refacing techniques
- Skill in precise cabinet modification work like installing new doors, hinges and hardware
- Attention to detail in preparing surfaces, applying finishes and aligning components
- Efficient working processes to minimize disruption to your home
- Clear communication every step of the way
Be sure to get a detailed written estimate clearly outlining the work to be performed. Obtain references from past clients and check samples of previous refacing work. Many cabinet refacing pros offer free in-home design consultations as well. Take time to ensure you find the right partner.
Refacing Specific Parts of Your Kitchen Cabinets
Beyond a full kitchen refacing, more targeted refacing of select cabinet components is also an option. Some key areas to consider:
Refacing Cabinet Doors Only
If your cabinet boxes and face frames are in good shape, refacing just the doors provides big visual impact with less work. Swapping out dated slab doors for Shaker-style doors or glass cabinet inserts can completely transform the look. Expect to pay $35-100 per door depending on materials and intricacy of door design.
Refacing Drawer Fronts
Over time, drawer glides and mechanisms can wear out or break. Rather than replacing the entire drawer box, simply replacing the drawer front with fresh materials and hardware creates a quick update. Focus on precise sizing and alignment for proper closing.
Refacing Cabinet Facades
Facade refacing refers to overlaying the exposed end panels of cabinet runs and island cabinet ends with new finishes. Often the most visible surfaces, refreshing just the facades provides high visual impact for relatively little effort.
Backsplashes see constant exposure to grease, splatters and moisture. Refacing with new water-resistant laminates, ceramic tile or other materials provides an easy kitchen refresh without replacing countertops.
Targeting high visibility areas like doors, drawer fronts and backsplashes lets you refresh your kitchen’s look in a simplified, cost-effective way.
Tips for a Successful Refacing Experience
Follow these top tips for a smooth and satisfying cabinet refacing journey:
- Clean Surfaces Thoroughly – Degrease and thoroughly sand cabinets so new finishes bond optimally. Proper prep prevents peeling or chipping later.
- Add Lighting – Under cabinet lighting or accent lighting showcases refaced surfaces beautifully. Lighting is fairly easy to add during the refacing process.
- Address Structural Issues – Fix any sagging doors, broken corners or rotted sections for lasting results. Don’t just apply new finishes over damaged areas.
- Keep Existing Cabinet Footprint – Avoid big layout changes. Moving cabinets risks misaligning countertops and appliances. Focus on the surfaces.
- Hire Professionals – Skilled carpenters and finishers are worth the investment. They have the expertise to handle all details perfectly.
- Select Durable Finishes – Consider your lifestyle and needs. Thermofoil and laminates stand up well in high traffic kitchens with moisture, grease and frequent cleaning.
- Mind the Edges – Use edging that tightly seals edges between cabinet frames and new panels. This prevents moisture intrusion that can lift finishes over time.
- Check References – Vet refacing contractors thoroughly through previous client reviews and looking at past project examples. Quality refacing requires expertise.
With good planning and preparation, you can change the entire look of your kitchen in less time than it takes to remodel. Refacing delivers amazing results with convenience, affordability and minimal disruption to your home. Give your kitchen a fresh new style with a simple cabinet refacing project.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Cabinet Refacing
How long does it take to reface kitchen cabinets?
Most kitchen cabinet refacing projects take 3-5 days from start to finish. The work moves quickly as existing cabinets remain in place. New doors, drawers and finishes are installed over the course of just a few days.
Do you have to remove countertops to reface cabinets?
In most cases, countertops can stay in place during refacing. The cabinet boxes remain intact so current countertop fit should not be affected. Exception would be if altering cabinet height or geometry underneath the countertop overhang.
Can I change color when refacing cabinets?
Yes, refacing allows you to customize your cabinet finish. Stain, paint or laminate your cabinets virtually any color. Just be sure to thoroughly prep and clean surfaces so the new coloring adheres well.
Does refacing kitchen cabinets update them?
Absolutely. Refacing essentially provides brand new cabinet doors, fronts and finishes. Just the dated surface appearance gets modernized. Refacing is a fast, affordable way to update your kitchen’s aesthetics.
How much value does refacing cabinets add to a home?
Depending on materials, refacing typically recoups 50-75% of costs at resale. So while less than full replacement, refacing still adds good resale value. Plus it modernizes kitchen style which often boosts a home’s desirability and marketability.
Can I mix cabinet refacing with new cabinets?
It’s possible to reface some cabinets while replacing others. Just be aware differing finishes can look mismatched. Many homeowners opt to reface all cabinets for a cohesive appearance, adding specialty new cabinets like a butcher block island.
Will cabinet refacing make my kitchen look bigger?
Light, bright finishes like white painted cabinets, glass doors and under cabinet lighting visually open up smaller, darker kitchens. Removing bulky trim pieces also streamlines appearance. Plus keeping the existing footprint avoids cramping the space further.
How long does a kitchen cabinet reface last?
On average, expect a quality cabinet refacing job to last 10-15 years with proper care and maintenance. Thermofoil and laminate finishes hold up especially well. Refacing essentially buys you a fresh new kitchen for the next decade plus.
Can you reface just cabinet doors?
Yes, you can focus on replacing just the doors for a simplified update. However, mixing old and new surfaces can look mismatched. Many opt to also reface cabinet frames, sides and face frames for a harmonious finished look.
In closing, kitchen cabinet refacing delivers a fresh, contemporary kitchen at a fraction of the price of full cabinet replacement. By installing new doors, drawer fronts and finished surfaces over existing boxes, you can quickly and affordably transform the look and feel of your kitchen. Refacing is ideal when existing cabinet bones are solid but facades are looking tired and dated. With some skilled handiwork and creativity, your dream kitchen can be a reality.