Reface your kitchen cabinets to update your kitchen without remodeling's costs or challenges.

By Ann Wilson
June 08, 2015
Double-Duty Cabinets

Stretching high and low across kitchen walls, cabinets play a prominent role in how your kitchen works and looks. So, when your kitchen cabinets become worn or appear outdated, it may be time to consider a cabinet facelift.

Opt to reface instead of replace tired kitchen cabinets, and you'll save money, time, and the environment. When refacing kitchen cabinets, upper and lower cabinet boxes stay in place instead of being dumped in a landfill; cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and molding details are removed and later replaced with wood, plastic laminate, or rigid thermo foil (RTF) versions that satisfy your style, color, and finish preferences. Before the new elements are installed, the boxes' exposed areas are covered with wood or synthetic veneers that match the finish you've selected.

From beginning to end, refacing projects usually take between two and four days and generally cost as much as 50 percent less than new cabinets. But, the amount of time and money spent varies by cabinet number and the replacement materials you choose.

Reface or Replace?

When does it make sense to reface instead of replace? If you have no plans to remodel your kitchen, are happy with its layout, and your cabinet boxes are structurally sound, refacing is a good option. But, when you have a kitchen remodel on tap and/or your kitchen cabinets are inexpensive, poorly constructed, or damaged, refacing is not a cost-effective option.

Style Selections

Your choices will be broad when it comes to the natural and artificial materials available to reface cabinets. You'll find replacement drawer fronts and doors available in cherry, oak, maple, and birch woods and laminates in both wood tones and a limited number of colors.

In addition to altering a cabinet's color, refacing also allows you to choose a different door style that can change your kitchen's character from country to contemporary, from traditional to transitional, or vice versa. You may also be able to switch how the doors will be hinged and select new hardware to further your preferred design style.

Though refacing cabinets can be a DIY project, applying the veneer can be tricky and may be best left to professionals. When hiring a refacing professional, get bids from at least three companies and check their references.

Less Expensive Options

Instead of refacing your cabinetry, replace just the cabinet doors with new doors that match the existing cabinet's finish. Feeling energetic? Before purchasing new doors, give your cabinets a thorough cleaning that removes embedded dirt and oils to see if that improves the view. Or, refinish shabby patinas by stripping and staining doors, drawers, and cabinet boxes. Perk up timeworn cabinets by applying primer, paint, and/or glaze to create cabinets with custom appeal.

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