Kitchen Cabinets - Reface or Replace?


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Homeowners sometimes ask themselves if they really need to replace the cabinets. Why not just “reface" them ? To decide if your kitchen remodel warrants replacing cabinets or you should consider refacing instead, take this brief quiz:

1. What is the MAIN reason you are considering remodeling?

A. Just want a fresh new look
B. Need more counterotop work space.
C. Need more storage or to add an ‘eat in space'
D. Need new appliances, sink of floor covering
E. Cabinet drawers stick or otherwise don't work or other cabinet problems

2. Is the value of your home rising?

A. No
B. Yes

3. Have others in your neighborhood remodeled the kitchen in the past 5 years?

4. How long do you plan to stay in your home?

A. One year or less before we sell
B. Plan to stay 3-5 years before we sell
C. Plan to stay in this home indefinitely

If your answer to more than one of these questions is “A", refacing might be the right choice. “Refacing" is a general term for a process of replacing doors and drawer fronts and includes placement of a veneer to match the new wood species and finish on the cabinet frames. (Some refacers also offer optional replacement of the entire drawer and drawer glide system and adding other interior functional features. )

Positive Results You May Obtain by Refacing Your Cabinets

  • Costs less than cabinet replacement
  • Fresh, new look for your cabinets
  • More pleasant or up-to-date environment
  • Possibly interior functional features for extra cost
  • More appealing to potential home buyers
Refacing Cautions
  • Same old traffic, workspace and storage problems have not been improved upon.
  • Future decision to do the complete job and make floor plan improvements would mean replacing the countertop and sink a second time. The same for floor coverings and wallpaper.
  • No opportunity to enhance the kitchen with specialty cabinets like dish or wine rack, etc.
  • Interior of cabinet remains the same; so does interior maintenance
  • Warranty is for new products only. Basic cabinets are not covered
Positive Results You Can Expect by Replacing Your Cabinets
  • The opportunity to improve the traffic, work patterns and storage space in your floorplan
  • One time sink and countertop replacement. (If a few years after refacing you decide to tackle the entire kitchen and make general improvements, countertops and sink cannot be re-installed on new cabinets
  • Stronger, more durable cabinets throughout
  • Solid wood face frames, not veneer applied to the surface
  • The possibility of enhancing the beauty of the kitchen by adding specialty cabinets such as a wine rack or display cabinet
  • Light, attractive easy to clean interiors
  • Warranty on the entire cabinet, not just the doors and drawers

Best Advice

The price difference between refacing and replacing may be minimal when the overall value is considered. Replacing cabinets does dictate the replacement of countertops, sink, built-in appliances and probably floor covering. The additional cost for completely new cabinets compared to refaced old cabinets may be quite small. In some instances, the difference is as little as 10%. Be a wise shopper!

For more tips, visit offers tips on getting the most out of your kitchen redesign projects. For more tips, visit


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