Reface or replace your kitchen cabinets?

Kitchen remodels can be expensive, and usually the biggest single expense is new cabinetry.

Cabinet re-facing is one way to address this issue, with the benefit of leaving the existing kitchen cabinets in place, and providing a new updated look with new doors (and knobs, and hinges).  The selling point is that you should save a lot of money compared to full cabinet replacement….after all, you’re only replacing the face, not the whole cabinet box, so it has to cost less, right?


There are several points to consider when comparing cabinet refacing with replacement.

  • What are the objectives of the project?
  • Does the existing layout function well?
  • Are you planning to replace the counter tops, sink, appliances or flooring?  Or, would you prefer to leave them alone if possible?
  • Are the existing cabinets structurally sound?

Answering these questions should help you determine if refacing your cabinets is worth further consideration.

Here are a couple examples from real life situations we often encounter when helping our clients determine what’s the best approach for their remodel.

Example A: a 1990’s era kitchen that was updated within the last 5 years with re-finished hardwood floors, new appliances, new granite slab countertop and new plumbing fixtures.  The update, however, did nothing with the 90’s era golden oak cabinets, which now look outdated and are not to the client’s liking.  The general layout of the kitchen is functional, and the quality of the cabinets is sound.  In this example, re-facing might be a very good consideration, as it provides the benefit of saving all the recent upgrades and limiting labor expense to tear out and then replace many items.  A good-quality refacing could replace the cabinet doors and hinges, overlay the cabinet box (frames) and (depending on the refacing vendor) add pull-out shelves where desired.  All of the other items in the kitchen are recently upgraded, so the cabinet work now completes the whole makeover.

On the other hand…

Example B:  a well-worn 1950’s era home in which the owners are planning to remove an interior wall that divides the kitchen from the living areas, to create an open plan.  The project will include new flooring, new countertops, some reconfiguration of the cabinet layout and new appliances.  With so much to do, budget is a high priority.  For this project, however, the value of the existing cabinets is questionable; they have few drawers making access challenging, fixed shelves that don’t allow efficient use of storage, the appliance openings need to be resized and the layout needs to be revised.  By the time the cabinets are re-located (often with modifications) and then re-faced, it is a toss-up whether new cabinets – designed to fit the space – would even cost more.  The worn and inefficient existing cabinets do not have adequate storage and functionality, so any resources applied to them does little for the overall objectives of the project.

When determining whether refacing is a viable consideration or not, the thing that surprises many of our clients is that the cost difference between refacing and modifying versus new cabinets is often minimal, and sometimes it’s actually less costly for new cabinets.

Are you planning your own kitchen remodel and want to talk to a kitchen expert?  Call us, we can help!



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This