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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Gray

Refinish, Resurface or Just Replace

Updated: Feb 24

"My cabinets are 20 years old, they still look great, but I'm ready for a change!"


With painted cabinetry being the most popular finish, homeowners are facing the challenge of refacing.


Painted cabinetry has risen to account for 55% of total cabinet sales when compared to stain. A Soft White is the most popular paint color.

It's an inviting thought, but is it right for you? Considering the possibility of refacing as opposed to a complete renovation is very tempting and could be the ideal solution.


The most important space consideration is the functionality of your kitchen, but balancing the cost and the desired outcome is the most important decision in a renovation of any kind. If your kitchen doesn't function, you need a new kitchen. If your kitchen does function, you have a decision to make. Nearly every kitchen can be dramatically improved upon with a new design in our ever-changing lifestyles. Do you want to keep the desk in the kitchen to pay your bills? Do you need a more interactive space?


Quality. Can you live with a lesser quality at a certain amount of savings? Probably. If you're considering new countertops, tile and appliances, seriously consider a full remodel. If all the other new items are installed and you have only refaced your cabinets, no matter how hard you tried to make old cabinets look new, they might not. Not replacing them will not be worth the savings, considering the sacrifice you made in design, quality and functionality.



How important is style? After all, style is the reason you want to reface. Style is more than a color. Sit a spell with Pinterest and you will see more open space, simpler door styles, a lack of wall cabinets, better allocation of necessities, statement pieces, and more islands than peninsulas. This is when you need to visit with a Kitchen and Bath Designer to help you see what's right for you.


Will you be happy with a simple finish change? A paint job is the fastest and most economical way to give your kitchen a face lift. Consider the styling choices and how refinishing your cabinetry might limit your options. Consider whether your kitchen will be the same old kitchen even after repainting. The same plan, door style, hardware and conveniences, or lack thereof.


Maybe you are a perfect candidate for painting over stain. Ask a professional what this entails. Since the most important part of painting is the prep, a really good sanding job is imperative. Your stain has varnish applied to the surface, so sanding is the most important step to ensure that the paint bonds with the cabinet.


Maybe you are comfortable finishing them yourself. Hand brushing gives a beautiful finish with the noticeable brush strokes. Painting with a spray gun is also an option. Remember unprofessionally applied paint is more prone to chipping than a commercially applied factory finish.


Refacing and replacing are other options. We can't say how much you might spend, but there are broad numbers online that might help point you in a direction. For this purpose, we'll quote Houselogic and Home Depot.


Houselogic.com says that for a veneer to be attached to your face frame and doors, (in this case, the doors must be slab - or flat) you can expect to spend about $2,500 - $6,000 for refacing the common size 10' X 20" kitchen. This kitchen is equal to 120 sq. ft.


Home Depot examples a 200 sq. ft. kitchen at a cost of $13,000 - $20,000 for a complete resurfacing, including labor, to make your cabinet exterior look brand new. This includes resurfacing the face frame and finished ends as well as new or refinished doors, both product and labor.


Here's a great example from the Spruce showing how refacing works. It takes an experienced specialist to do this type of veneering. thespruce.com


A standard 10' X 20' kitchen cost for new cabinets could be a minimum of $7,500 to 15,000 - a pretty broad number depending on your choices. It is possible for the cost of refacing to be the same as new cabinetry.


So back to balancing the level of need and the cost. The best way to do this is just talk to people. Don't feel like you're wasting their time by asking questions. You don't have to be committed to something before checking out your options. Ask your Kitchen and Bath Designer for replacement budget numbers. It takes only a few minutes and is completely non-pressured. they can also help with the thought process of pros and cons for your particular project, helping you get a little better understanding of the scope of your project.


Compare these thoughts and numbers with refacing companies. The information you gather will provide the answers you need to proceed with a project you'll be happy with for many years.



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