Refacing vs. Replacing the Kitchen Cabinets: Everything You Need to Know
December 22, 20208 min read
Whether you’ve owned your home for 30 years, or you just bought a 30-year-old fixer-upper, there will come a time that you’ll have to take a long look at the kitchen cabinets. Depending on their state (usable or not), you’ll have a couple of different options: refacing or replacing. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to know what they are. You’ll want to make the best decision for your cabinets, your home, your wallet and yourself. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about refacing or replacing your kitchen cabinets.
Replacing Your Kitchen Cabinets
If your cabinets are no longer level, have broken doors and shelves or have mold growing on them, it’s time to replace your kitchen cabinets. Once you make this decision, there’s lots of other questions you’ll have or actions you need to take. We proudly offer a free kitchen designand quote to all our customers to help you get started.
What happens with cabinet replacement?
Your existing cabinets are removed. The old cabinets are either donated or scrapped–depending on the state of the wood, which will determine how they’re removed. Experienced professionals install your new cabinets, from setting and leveling the bases to screwing on doors and handles.
Cabinet replacement is perfect if you’re designing your own home or changing your entire kitchen layout. It’s an opportunity to try out a style you’ve never thought of before, or one you’ve been dying to try out. Our Skyline cabinets are perfectfor the homeowner who wants to infuse some European style into their home decor. Every one of our Skyline orders is built to order based on your layout, with a variety of finishes and textures. We can also do a variety of modifications, including custom depths, no-door, and even accent cabinets.
What is my responsibility as the homeowner?
As the homeowner, you’ll need to ensure you gather proper measurements, learn how to choose kitchen cabinetsand make sure you find cabinets within your budget. You’ll also want to plan around getting your cabinets replaced. Replacing cabinets the right way takes time and patience. Delays happen on every remodel project, so expect them and plan ahead. If you have the room to store them, we recommend ordering your new cabinets and having them delivered before you remove your old cabinets. You’ll also need to find adequate storage for your current cabinet contents, so stocking up on plastic containers is a good idea.
How much does it cost to replace my cabinets?
That’s a great question! It’s also probably one of the most important from a homeowner standpoint. When you’re creating your budget, make sure you include enough room for labor costs, installation fees or any other costs that will be associated with the project. On the high end, cabinet replacement can cost as much as $20,000. However, we work closely with all our customers to ensure they receive cabinets within their budget.
Can I DIY my cabinet replacement?
Unless you’re a contractor or cabinet installer by trade, it’s probably not a good idea to replace your cabinets yourself. It takes a high level of expertise to properly replace cabinets. You have to know how to level them, assemble them and install them properly. If you take the risk, make sure you have a contractor friend oversee you. However, if this is your first time attempting any cabinet replacement, it’s important that you hire professionals. You’ll ultimately spend more on your cabinet replacement because you’ll have to hire a company to come in and fix any mistakes you make.
I’m a big fan of being eco-friendly. Is it sustainable to replace my cabinets?
Most likely not. Depending on what material your cabinets are made from, you can either donate them or have the wood recycled into various objects. However, you should keep in mind that many older cabinets have been treated with hazardous materials, so putting them through different recycling processes can release harmful toxins into the air.
Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets
If your cabinets are still in pretty good shape, or you’re on a pretty tight renovation budget, refacing your cabinets will be the best option for you. Refacing your cabinets is also a great idea for when you love your current kitchen layout and just want to update the look of your kitchen a bit.
What happens with cabinet refacing?
Refacing your kitchen cabinets is when your current cabinet boxes are veneered, and the drawer fronts and doors are replaced with new ones. Think of it as a step-down from replacing. New hardware (handles and joints) are usually also installed when you reface your cabinets. Depending on how many bad drawers you have, you might be able to get them replaced entirely as well.
What is my responsibility as the homeowner?
Your responsibilities as the homeowner when it comes to refacing your cabinets are actually pretty similar to replacing. You’ll need to be honest with the contractor or cabinet supplier about what the current state of your cabinets are. You might actually have to replace your cabinets entirely instead of refacing them. Since the contractors and cabinet suppliers are experts, they’ll be able to give you their expert opinions, and you should trust their advice. Additionally, your responsibilities include removing the contents from your cabinets as well as cleaning them prior to getting them refaced.
How much does it cost to reface my cabinets?
Refacing your cabinets is much less expensive than replacing them. This is because there’s less labor and materials involved. Instead of taking down all the cabinets and putting new ones up, or changing the layout of your kitchen, just the fronts of the cabinets are replaced. This is much better for anyone on a budget because you’ll still get cabinets that feel fresh, but you won’t have to put all new cabinets in. Most cabinet refacing costs between $7,000 and over $10,000; however, they cost significantly less than replacing your cabinets.
Can I DIY my cabinet refacing?
That depends. More and more companies are selling refacing materials at local hardware stores, but the actual labor itself still requires some expertise. If you decide to DIY your cabinet refacing, make sure you study up on lots of expert how-to videos and read the directions of your refacing equipment carefully. Your best bet is to find an expert refacer who can come in and do it for you.
If you decide to reface your cabinets yourself, make sure you only order the pieces you need–and buy them RTA. Our designer cabinets can come ready-to-assembleso that you can reface your cabinets with new pieces that look straight out of a magazine.
I’m a big fan of eco-friendly. Is refacing my kitchen cabinets sustainable?
Refacing your kitchen cabinets is definitely more sustainable than replacing them. Less material gets sent to the landfill, and less material gets sourced to bring you your cabinets. You can also purchase cabinets made from recycled wood to have an even more sustainable kitchen. Take it a step further and go to your local antique store or salvaged wood depot to find recycled cabinet hardware. You can find some beautiful glass knobs that will make your kitchen cabinets look unique and truly one-of-a-kind! They’re a great budget saver, too.
Replacing vs. Refacing: The Comparison Chart to Save You Time
To better help you make the determination of which is better for you, we’ve put together a handy chart that compares replacing and refacing cabinets. Use this chart to quickly view some of the pros and cons of both replacing and refacing, plus how they stack up to cost and eco-friendly status.
Replacing Your Cabinets
Refacing Your Cabinets
When you should do it
When you’re building your home, doing significant renovations (including adjusting your kitchen layout) or your cabinets are cracked, shelves are broken or are no longer level.
If your cabinet bases are still in great shape, you have a smaller budget and you’re leaving your current kitchen layout the way it is.
How it works
Current cabinets are removed, entirely new cabinets (bases, doors, hardware) are installed.
Contractors and professionals use expert tools to level and install new cabinets.
Current cabinet doors, hardware and drawers are removed. Current boxes/bases stay and are veneered. New doors, hardware and drawers are installed.
What it costs
Significant investment; usually around $10,000 to $20,000+. Majority of costs come from labor and installation.
Lower investment; usually around $7,000 to $10,000+. Much more fiscally responsible than replacement.
Can you DIY?
While it’s easier than refacing cabinets on your own, it still requires a lot of expertise because you will need to know how to make something level and properly install the cabinets.
Lots of hardware stores are selling DIY veneering supplies, but it’s still something better left to the professionals.
If you decide to DIY, then make sure you consult with a specialist beforehand, view a variety of tutorial videos and follow the directions carefully.
Is it eco-friendly?
Depends on the material of your current cabinets. Older cabinets were typically made with more toxic materials, so they can’t withstand the recycling process.
If your cabinets are in decent shape, you might be able to donate them or have them recycled.
Much more eco-friendly than replacing due to leaving major parts of the cabinets alone. Only doors, drawers and hardware have to go to the landfill if they can’t be recycled.
You can also find hardware at local consignment or antique stores for
unique looks and to save on costs.
Other Things to Keep In Mind
There are lots of other things to keep in mind when you decide between replacing or refacing your kitchen cabinets. From design styles to practical needs, here are some of our other top considerations for the cabinets in your kitchen.
Do you have kids or pets? Whether or not you have children or pets is a big consideration for your kitchen design–including the cabinets. You might want to avoid white cabinets (unless they’ve been pre-treated with no-scratch material or are dirt-resistant). You should also consider refacing instead of replacing, especially if your current cabinets don’t have much damage. Then, when the kids are older and less likely to destroy them, or the puppy starts to prefer sleeping on the couch instead of scratching at the cabinets for treats, you can replace them.
What design are you going for? Depending on the design style you’re going for in your kitchen, you might have a more difficult time making the decision between refacing and replacing. If you want to keep the same design style in your kitchen, just make it a little more modern and clean, refacing is best. However, if you’re transitioning from traditional to rustic farmhouse, a full replacement will be much more worth your while.
What does your flooring look like? Many people, especially renovators, tend to forget the big picture. They just want to have one small piece updated, but they don’t realize that buyers and renters look at rooms as a whole. Having clean, white, modern cabinets is great…until they see the 1970s green vinyl flooring or tile. Make sure you consider what your flooring looks like when you decide what to do with your cabinets.
Keep things cohesive! Cohesion is key when it comes to interior design. From the window treatments to the bar stools, your entire kitchen should be cohesive and give off the same message. You achieve this by using complementary colors, keeping clutter away from the counters and increasing the amount of natural light in your kitchen.
What do you need most? If you need more open shelving to make your kitchen look larger, or you need to hide valuables away from small children, or you need to spend more renovating your living room than the kitchen, these will each affect your decisions on whether to reface or replace. Making a list of priorities–and knowing that it might change as you go–will help you in determining what to do with your kitchen.
My name is Scott Wienert and I am the owner of Wholesale Cabinet Supply. We are a family owned supplier of quality kitchen and bath cabinetry across the United States.
If you know what you want, you can order straight from our website. If you don't, we can assist you in designing/pricing your kitchen and selecting the individual cabinets, molding, accessories, etc that you will need. Once ordered, your cabinets arrive to your home fully assembled straight from the manufacturer.
Our goal is to delivery QUALITY CABINETS with PERSONAL SERVICE at GREAT PRICES:
Quality Cabinets - All plywood boxes & solid maple face frames, as well as soft close doors and drawers are STANDARD on every cabinet.
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