Cabinet refacing is a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh, updated look without the expense of a full kitchen remodel. Here’s an in-depth guide to understanding this popular kitchen remodeling option.

What is Cabinet Refacing?

Cabinet refacing involves replacing the exposed portions of your existing kitchen cabinets with new doors, drawers, and exterior materials. The cabinet boxes and interior shelves typically remain in place. The old cabinet surfaces are covered with new wood veneers, laminates, or thermofoil. New hardware and accents are added to complete the transformation.

Refacing maintains the layout and structure of your cabinets, while giving them a completely refreshed appearance. It’s a more affordable alternative to replacing cabinets entirely. The project can usually be completed in a few days with minimal demolition or disruption to your home.

Benefits of Cabinet Refacing

There are many advantages to refacing rather than replacing your kitchen cabinets:

  • Cost savings – Refacing costs about 50% less than new cabinet installation. It’s the most affordable way to update the look of your kitchen.
  • Faster timeline – A typical refacing project takes 3-5 days from start to finish. New cabinets can take weeks or months.
  • Less disruptive – Your existing cabinet boxes stay in place, so there’s no need to remove countertops or plumbing. Mess and demolition are minimal.
  • Sustainability – Refacing preserves your existing cabinetry, reducing landfill waste. It’s an eco-friendly remodeling choice.
  • Customization – You can choose new finishes, hardware, and accessories to create a unique look for your kitchen.
  • Updated aesthetics – Refacing offers an easy way to update cabinets to the latest styles without removing your existing cabinetry.

The Refacing Process

Replacing your cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and exterior surfaces involves careful planning and skilled execution. Here is an overview of the cabinet refacing process:

  • Consultation – The contractor will assess your cabinets and discuss design options and materials. Be sure to review what will be refaced and what costs will be involved.
  • Protecting the work area – Your contractor will prepare the kitchen by covering surfaces and removing doors and hardware. Appliances may need to be pulled out from walls temporarily.
  • Door and drawer replacement – Existing cabinet doors and drawers are removed and replaced with the new chosen style. Hinges and drawer glides are upgraded as well.
  • Veneering or re-surfacing – Fronts, sides, tops, and visible surfaces are covered in new laminate, wood, or thermofoil using trims, adhesives, and finishing techniques.
  • Accents and accessories – New hardware, moldings, trim, and other accents are added for a finished, customized look. Glass, paint techniques, or tiles can also be worked into the design.
  • Re-installation and clean up – Doors, drawers, and appliances are re-installed. The area is cleaned thoroughly before you begin using your refreshed kitchen.

Choosing Colors, Finishes and Styles

One of the biggest advantages of refacing is the wide variety of options for dramatically changing the look of your cabinets:


From bright and bold paint colors to natural wood stains, your color palette is virtually unlimited. Neutral off-whites and warm grays are popular choices that add sophistication. Consider accent colors on island cabinets or lower cabinets to create visual interest.


Matte, glazed, distressed, crackled, rubbed, and other finish effects allow you to customize your new cabinets. Soft matte finishes help lighten and brighten a dark kitchen. Add dimension with two-toned finishes in contrasting colors.


Select cabinet door styles that complement your kitchen’s overall design – from flat paneled doors to ornate raised panels and Shaker-style designs. Mixed styles and combining stained wood with painted finishes are on-trend options.


Update old dated hardware with new modern handles and knobs in satin nickel, oil rubbed bronze, brushed chrome or black finishes. Change the style completely with cup pulls, bars, or unique hardware pieces.


Incorporate glass doors, beadboard panels, moldings and corbels to elevate your new cabinetry. Consider open shelving, accent lighting, or creative backsplashes to enhance the refacing transformation.

Finding an Experienced Professional

Because cabinet refacing is a specialized process, it’s essential to find an experienced professional cabinet refacer for your project. Be sure to:

  • Review online reviews, portfolio images, and talk to past clients
  • Verify licensure, insurance coverage, and follow-up service
  • Ask about their refacing process, typical timeline, and material sources
  • Get a written estimate outlining exactly what is included
  • Look for refacers that offer extended warranties on labor and materials

Investing in a skilled refacing company will ensure your finished kitchen is high-quality, functional, and beautiful for years to come. With some smart planning, you can reap all the benefits of new cabinets at a fraction of the cost by refacing your existing kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cabinet Refacing

How much does it cost to reface kitchen cabinets?

The average cost to reface kitchen cabinets is $2,000-$5,000, with most homeowners spending $3,000-$4,000. Factors like your location, cabinet size, choice of materials, accessories, and more impact final costs.

Is refacing cabinets worth it?

For most homeowners, refacing is a smart investment that costs about 50% less than new cabinets. It can refresh the look of your kitchen in less time and with less mess than a full replacement.

How long do refaced cabinets last?

With quality materials and installation, refaced cabinets can last 15-20 years or more. The durability is comparable to new cabinets. Proper care and maintenance will maximize their lifespan.

Should you reface or replace kitchen cabinets?

If your cabinet boxes are structurally sound, refacing is generally the better option. Replacing makes sense if cabinets are damaged, poorly constructed or you’re reconfiguring the whole layout.

Can you paint over refaced cabinets?

Yes, you can paint or re-stain refaced cabinets later on. The laminate surfaces take paint well. This allows you to easily update the color down the road.

Do cabinets have to be removed to be refaced?

In most cases, existing cabinets can stay in place during refacing. New doors, drawer fronts and veneer surfaces are installed directly onto the existing cabinet boxes. No tear-out is required.


Replacing just the visible surfaces of your cabinets provides an affordable kitchen update. The process is quick, customized, and much less disruptive than a full renovation. With some smart planning and an experienced contractor, you can give your kitchen a fresh new look just by refacing your outdated cabinets.