Truth On Cabinet Refacing

kitchen cabinets and island

posted Feb 15 2017

What is Cabinet Refacing?

As the name implies, cabinet refacing involves keeping the boxes, or main part of your cabinets, and replacing the face frames, doors, and drawer fronts. Many homeowners believe or have been told, that if they have good quality, solid wood cabinets, that it will be less expensive to reface them than to replace them. While this is partly true, it is also somewhat misleading and can lead to larger expenses down the road.

Let’s start with the cabinets themselves. While it seems like keeping the plywood box of your cabinets and replacing just the fronts will be less costly, the truth is that what you are replacing is the most expensive part of the cabinet. The doors and drawer fronts require the most craftsmanship and material to make and finish. In addition to replacing the aesthetic part of the cabinet, you will also need to replace the cabinet hardware (hinges), drawer boxes, and drawer glides that have gotten worn from years of use, or that are just not in keeping with current cabinet styles. All said and done, you are not saving that much money, and you are tied to the original kitchen floorplan.  


This leads to the second issue of resurfacing. As kitchen trends change, often your original kitchen layout no longer works. Whether it is a soffit over your wall cabinets or a new larger-sized refrigerator, there is a good chance that there will be at least one part of your existing kitchen that you will want, or need, to change. If you just do refacing, you are investing a considerable amount of money into a layout that may no longer work down the road.

If you are looking to update your kitchen, you will probably want to change the countertop when you are refacing your cabinets. If you choose to go with a granite top as part of your update, be aware that again, it ties you to a specific kitchen layout, and it is being supported by cabinets that are already aged.  Should the cabinets begin to fail structurally, you are now going to have to pull out the countertop to replace the cabinets, and pulling out a stone top is not meant to be removed. Therefore, taking out a top is costly and risky. It may be hard to even find a contractor who is willing to do it.

In the end, for not much additional cost, you can often get new cabinets, and countertop, with the layout that suits you best.

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