Everything You Need to Know About Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

If your kitchen needs an update but you don't want to undergo an expensive (and time-consuming) remodel, cabinet refacing can give your space an entirely new look.

Kitchen cabinets are both functional and a key component of a home's overall aesthetic. But over the years, cabinets can fall into disrepair, with colors faded or malfunctaioning handles and hinges, and before you know it, your most-used room can start to look run-down.

If a complete kitchen renovation sounds too expensive or time-consuming, consider a facelift for cabinets. Resurfacing cabinets is a low-cost upgrade that can yield outsized style points. Try covering existing cabinets with new materials, such as surface wood, thermofoil, or laminate, or add new hardware to breathe new life into the hub of your home.

kitchen with blue and white cabinets
Stacy Zarin Goldberg Photography LLC

What is cabinet refacing?

Cabinet refacing replaces the cabinet skin panels to give your kitchen a new look. It entails removing cabinet doors and drawer fronts to apply a new veneer over the existing surface. Refacing can also involve hardware replacements, such as hinges, handles, and drawer pulls. The upside is that the old cabinet boxes stay in place, so there's no need to worry about custom sizing or building time. Instead, they are repaired to match the new doors or surface material. Refaced cabinets look brand new and give your space a completely fresh look and feel.

How much does kitchen cabinet refacing cost?

There is a wide price range for cabinet refacing costs because there are many factors to consider. The final cost to reface kitchen cabinets depends on the materials used, the quantity and layout of the original cabinets, and the amount of labor needed. The Home Depot says minor repairs start around $7,600, but a major cabinet makeover could reach as much as $23,310.

Why the range in price? A small kitchen makeover could involve just a few cabinets, while a major overhaul could entail replacing all cabinet doors and drawers. Wood veneers also vary in price depending on the wood species, while contemporary laminate can create a modern look with contrasting hardware replacements.

The price for refacing cabinets will also go up if you hire a professional, which is recommended. Companies like Lowe's, Houzz, and Cabinets To Go offer online consultations for kitchen cabinet installation. It is best to meet with a pro to think through all the details and get a comprehensive quote before starting work alone.

Pros of Kitchen Cabinet Resurfacing

Less expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive. Rebuilding cabinetry is costly and time intensive, so refacing is cost-effective alternative. A total kitchen renovation or remodel can also be very disruptive. However, refacing allows you to continue using your kitchen throughout the upgrade process. Cabinet refacing takes precision, time, and know-how, but homeowners can learn the skills needed to do it themselves and shave off thousands on the cost.

A wide variety of styles. Cabinet refacing includes a variety of style and veneer options, including natural woods and laminates.

No major construction and added home value. It is also ideal if you have no desire to change your kitchen layout, just spruce up the room to make it more functional or attractive. Not to mention, refacing can easily pay for itself in increased home value.

Eco-friendly alternative. Last, most cabinets are made of MDF (medium-density fiberboard), which contains hazardous chemicals. They are difficult to recycle, making them likely to end up in a landfill where the chemicals can leach into the soil and groundwater. Refacing is a more eco-conscious alternative because the original cabinets are not destroyed or discarded, and there's no need to use new lumber for replacements.

Cons of Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Maintains existing layout. Refacing cabinets maintains the size and layout of your original kitchen. Chances are that if your kitchen has looked the same way for more than 20 years, a new layout or design might be more appealing than just refacing. People tired of where things are located in the room are better off investing in an entire kitchen remodel. This can add storage and optimize efficiency, including new base cabinets and island cabinets that are ADA-compliant. Refacing is meant to be a cosmetic tweak, not an overhaul.

Might require professional installation. Depending on the extent of the cabinet refacing, the job might require specialized veneering equipment and a flair for precision. So while DIY installation can be appealing, it might not always be feasible or realistic. It is often best to hire a pro. Between the detailed craftwork and the quantities of matching hardware needed, a kitchen refacing can prove to be more complicated than it initially seems.

Refacing doesn't always save money. Cabinet refacing is not always the most affordable kitchen update; this will depend on your style and taste. Replacing cabinet doors with high-end hardwood could make for a pricier commitment, than simply painting the cabinets or adding new knobs and drawer pulls.

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