A kitchen renovation can be an exciting yet daunting project. With so many options to consider, it can be challenging to decide which updates will give you the most bang for your buck. One route that is often overlooked is refacing your existing cabinets rather than replacing them. Refacing your cabinets can totally transform the look of your kitchen at a fraction of the cost of new cabinetry. Here’s an in-depth look at what refacing entails and why it should be on your radar for your next kitchen refresh.

What is Cabinet Refacing?

Cabinet refacing is the process of replacing the exterior surfaces of your existing cabinet boxes and doors. Rather than removing and replacing the entire cabinet, the cabinet box remains intact while new doors, drawer fronts, and trim are installed. Laminate or veneer surfaces are also added to cover the exterior of the cabinet boxes. This provides a fresh facelift for a fraction of the price of brand new custom cabinetry.

Benefits of Refacing vs. Replacing Kitchen Cabinets

  • More budget-friendly – About 50% less than new custom cabinetry
  • Much quicker process – 1-5 days vs. weeks for cabinet replacement
  • Far less material waste – Recycles existing cabinet boxes
  • Less dusty and disruptive installation – Avoids demolition of old cabinets
  • More eco-friendly – Repurposes instead of replacing cabinets
  • Custom look for less – New doors and finishes transform style

Refacing can give you an entirely new look while avoiding the high cost and hassle of a full cabinet removal and replacement. If your cabinet boxes are structurally sound, refacing is a great option to consider.

Transform the Look of Your Kitchen with Refacing

The magic of refacing lies in the dramatic transformation you can achieve through relatively simple upgrades to cabinet door styles, finishes, and hardware. Here are some of the key elements you can change to totally revamp the style of your kitchen:

Door Style

Switching up your cabinet door style is one of the most impactful changes you can make. For a classic transformation, trading outdated flat panel doors for raised panel doors with detailed profiles can make the kitchen feel instantly upgraded. Contemporary slab door styles in lacquered finishes modernize the space beautifully. Change just the upper doors to open shelving for a more casual cottage look. The options are endless!

Wood Finishes & Colors

Refacing allows you to move away from drab oak or dated plastic laminates to rich woodgrain finishes like cherry, maple, and alder. Stained finishes can evoke warmth and nature. Painted finishes are hugely popular for a clean and airy white kitchen or to integrate bold colors for a more adventurous look. The choice comes down to the mood you want to create.


A change of hardware is one of the easiest ways to update a tired kitchen’s look on a budget. Matte black, brass, or nickel hardware lends a more modern edge. Vintage-style hardware creates traditional farmhouse charm. Opt for soft close hinges and drawer glides for a seamless, high-end feel.

Moldings & Accents

Supplemental trim details go a long way in refining your kitchen’s style. Picture or accent framing moldings around doors and drawers create attractive definition. Fluted columns and corbels add elegant support to open shelves. Small trims and accents make a surprising impact.

By tailoring these design elements to your personal taste and the architecture of your home, refacing offers endless possibilities to reimagine your space.

How is Refacing Done? What is the Process?

Now that you’re excited by the potential, let’s look at what the cabinet refacing process entails.

The specific work involved can vary based on factors like your existing cabinet construction and layout. But the general refacing process follows this order:

1. Removal of doors, drawers, and hardware

The installers will begin by removing all doors, drawers, and hardware from the cabinets. This preps the boxes for the next steps.

2. Surface preparation

Next, the cabinet boxes and frames will be thoroughly cleaned, sanded, and prepped for the new exterior veneers and laminates. Any required repairs are made so surfaces are smooth and ready for finishing.

3. Component refacing

Veneer surfaces are glued over the cabinet box exteriors and trimmed for clean edges. New cabinet doors, preferably made from solid wood rather than veneers, are installed with upgraded hinges. Drawers are fitted with new glides and faces to match the fresh door style.

4. Painting/staining

With the new wood surfaces in place, the doors, frames, and boxes can be sanded, primed, painted, glazed, or stained to achieve your chosen finish. Multiple coats are applied for a rich and durable finish.

5. Hardware installation

Once the paint or stain has fully cured, it’s time for the best part – installing the new hardware you’ve selected to complete the transformation with updated knobs, pulls, and handles.

6. Touch up and inspection

Once all components are completely installed and finished, the installers will do a final quality check to ensure every detail is perfect. A bit of custom woodworking or trim addition can sometimes occur here to refine corners or transitions.

With that, your kitchen is revived and ready to enjoy! The refacing experts handle the entire process for you from start to finish.

Refacing Cabinet Construction Types

An important consideration for refacing is understanding your existing cabinet construction. Components like door fronts and veneer surfaces are fabricated to seamlessly integrate with the cabinet boxes. The three main construction types are:

Frameless Cabinets

Also called European style, these have full access inside the cabinet with no face frame. Doors are attached directly to the sides of the box. The entire exterior is refaced.

Face Frame Cabinets

This classic style has a frame of solid wood surrounding the front of the cabinet box. Only the frame and door fronts are refaced.

Frameless Beaded Inset Cabinets

Similar to frameless but with cabinet doors set inside the cabinet opening rather than overlaying it. Refacing needs to allow for the inset lip.

An experienced refacing company will be able to identify your specific cabinet construction and execute the refacing accordingly.

Key Factors to Consider for Refacing

As you evaluate refacing your outdated kitchen cabinets, here are some beneficial factors to keep in mind:

  • Layout – Refacing works best if you’re happy with the general layout of your cabinets and want to keep the footprint mostly the same. Reconfiguring or moving cabinet locations will add cost.
  • Condition – As long as the underlying cabinet boxes are structurally sound with surfaces cleaned of grease or damage, refacing should be a good option. Complete cabinet replacement makes more sense if moisture or rot damage exists.
  • Door Styles – Seek out a refacing company that offers quality solid wood door options to maximize durability and allow for custom sizing. Avoid thinner veneer doors that can warp.
  • Contractors – A reputable company that has been refacing kitchens for many years is best. Check reviews and examples of past work to vet refacing specialists.
  • Timing – Most refacing jobs can be completed quite quickly in 1-5 days. This causes less disruption than full demolition and cabinet replacement.

Overall, if you love the layout and workflow of your current kitchen but crave an updated look, refacing provides a fast, eco-friendly, and cost-effective option that breathtakingly transforms the space.

How Much Does it Cost to Reface Kitchen Cabinets?

One of the biggest appeals of refacing your kitchen cabinets rather than replacing them is the cost savings. But what can you expect to pay?

On average, refacing existing kitchen cabinets costs between $4,000-$10,000 depending on the size of your kitchen and options chosen.

Here’s a breakdown of typical price ranges:

  • Standard Cabinets – $3,000 to $7,000
  • Larger Kitchen – $7,000 to $12,000
  • Premium Options – $8,000 to $15,000+

This compares very favorably to the cost of custom manufactured cabinet replacement, which starts around $15,000 and can exceed $30,000.

Factors impacting the cost of your refacing project include:

  • Scope of cabinets being refaced – More surface square footage costs more.
  • Quality of materials and door types – Solid wood doors and veneers cost more than laminates.
  • Special storage solutions – Rollouts, glass fronts, dividers add cost.
  • Type of finishes – Staining takes more time and effort than painting.
  • Complexity of installation – Built-in cabinetry or intricate trim and molding is pricier.
  • Your location – Pricing varies by region and local labor costs.

Be sure to get an itemized quote accounting for your specific kitchen layout and material selections. Quality refacing that genuinely updates your kitchen for years rather than just a quick facelift is worth the investment. With some smart design choices, you can refresh your space beautifully within an appealing $5,000 to $8,000 budget.

DIY vs. Professional Refacing

With the cost savings versus new cabinets, some homeowners consider tackling refacing as a DIY project. Refacing does require less skill than building cabinets from scratch. But there are good reasons to think carefully before taking a DIY approach:

Benefits of professional refacing

  • Expertise for flawless results
  • Time savings with fast turnaround
  • Perfect finish with specialized tools
  • Warranties and assurances
  • Handles entire process from start to finish

Challenges of DIY refacing

  • Learning curve for unfamiliar skills
  • Investments in tools and workspace
  • Sourcing quality materials yourself
  • Achieving flawless finish without experience
  • Weeks rather than days for completion
  • No accountability or guarantees for the work

For most homeowners without professional carpentry experience, the potential frustrations and risks of DIY likely outweigh the cost savings. Focus your efforts on designing your ideal refacing transformation, then bring in the experts to execute it perfectly.

Popular Refacing Style Ideas to Inspire You

If you’re excited to revamp your kitchen but feeling overwhelmed deciding on a new style direction, here are some of the most popular refacing transformations to spark inspiration:

1. Contemporary White and Wood

Crisp white painted boxes with integrated handles and drawers paired with warm wood accents and slab-style doors create a stunning, minimalist look. Add fun by including color only in the backsplash and accessories.

2. Farmhouse Chic Style

Weathered wood finishes, visible distressed accents, and vintage-styled hardware will breathe fresh country farmhouse flair into your space. Glass-front uppers and metal mesh cabinet inserts provide charming texture.

3 Clean-Lined Modern

For contemporary appeal, nothing beats the streamlined sophistication of two-toned cabinets in a mix of glossy and matte finishes. Go for maximum contrast with bright white uppers and dark espresso lowers.

4. Traditional Elegance

Evoke timeless elegance with raised panel doors flanked by decorative pilasters and trimmed with ornate crown molding. Rich woodgrain finishes like mahogany or cherry create luxurious warmth.

5. Industrial Edge

The industrial trend is hot with an eclectic look perfect for urban lofts and edgy personalities. Matte black or gray tones, wire mesh doors, and iron hardware nail the aesthetic.

Once you select a style that resonates, your refacing experts can recommend door types, finishes, hardware and accents to bring your vision to life. Browse photos online and in showrooms to find your perfect style direction before meeting with design consultants. The possibilities are truly endless for customizing a kitchen that reflects your needs and personality!

Maintaining Your Refaced Cabinets

You’ll want your stunning refaced cabinets to maintain their upscale upgraded look for many years. Follow these tips for caring for your new cabinet surfaces:

  • Use microfiber cloths or soft sponges to gently clean surfaces. Avoid abrasive scrub pads.
  • Immediately wipe spills – Don’t allow grease or liquids to soak in.
  • Clean with a mild soap and water solution. Avoid harsh chemical cleaners.
  • Use cutting boards rather than directly chopping on countertops.
  • Don’t place small appliances directly against cabinet surfaces when hot.
  • Check for signs of damage annually and touch up finishes as needed.
  • Every 2-3 years re-apply a protective topcoat to refresh the finish.
  • Avoid excessive moisture that can damage cabinet integrity over time.
  • Open windows when cooking and using the dishwasher to allow ventilation.
  • Install child safety locks to prevent cabinet doors and drawers from excessive pulling and force.

With proper care, your refaced cabinets should maintain their like-new beauty for a decade or longer before needing another refresh.

Refacing Q&A

Still have some questions about refacing your outdated kitchen cabinets? Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:

Does refacing kitchen cabinets really transform the look?

Yes, refacing can completely change the entire style and aesthetic of your kitchen when done right. Just the door style alone can take the kitchen from traditional styling to modern or contemporary. Switching up finishes, hardware and accents expands the design possibilities even more.

Do the cabinets have to be emptied for refacing?

In most cases, yes. The installers will need full access to remove existing doors, sand and finish surfaces, and install the refacing components. Depending on your project scope, some contents may be able to remain in lower cabinets or drawers. But discuss this ahead of time with your contractor.

Can you change the cabinet layout or add more cabinets?

Refacing is most cost effective when keeping the existing cabinet footprint. Some minor modifications can likely be accommodated, but extensive layout changes will alter the scope toward a more customized remodeling project rather than simple refacing.

How long does the refacing process take?

Most cabinet refacing projects take 1-5 days from start to finish. Refacing avoids the lengthy demolition process of removing whole cabinets, so work progresses very quickly. This timeline can vary based on your kitchen size and custom accents.

Can cabinets be refaced more than once?

Yes, as long as the underlying cabinet box structure remains in good shape without moisture or rot damage, they can be refaced successfully multiple times. Refacing preserves the main carcass each time.

Will refaced cabinets function as good as new cabinets?

In most cases refacing allows upgraded functionality from your old cabinets. New soft close hinges and glides improve operation. Custom rollouts and organizers can also be incorporated. An experienced contractor will ensure optimized function.

How do I hire a quality refacing contractor vs. a low budget option?

Vet potential refacing specialists thoroughly – check reviews, licensing, insurance, years in business, sample project galleries, and product lines. A quality contractor may cost 10-25% more than lower-end options but deliver far superior results that last.

Transform Your Kitchen with Refacing!

Ready to take the plunge? If your outdated or drab kitchen has you dreaming of a stunning makeover, cabinet refacing truly delivers. You can completely transform the look, feel and functionality of your space for a fraction of the cost of full replacement. Refreshed with new doors, finishes, and accents tailored to match your personal style, you’ll love cooking, entertaining and spending time in your fresh kitchen for years to come. Partner with an experienced local refacing contractor to make your vision a reality on time and on budget. Before you know it, you’ll be hosting dinner parties and receiving rave reviews in your beautifully refaced, magazine-worthy kitchen!