Pros of Refacing Refacing costs much less, typically about half the cost of replacing cabinets while still achieving very close to the same look as new cabinets. Takes less time usually 5 to 10 days, depending on the size of your kitchen. Theres little disruption to the use of your kitchen and living space. You can still use your kitchen, appliances often dont have to moved, and there are no plumbing or electrical interruptions unless upgrades are being put in place. You can save your existing countertop. Countertops can rarely be reused after being removed from old base cabinets during replacement projects Refacing Considerations: Refacing is often a viable financial solution to slightly worn and minor damaged cabinetry. Updating trim, doors, and hardware often result in a kitchen that will look new and potentially last another 15 years. But just painting cabinets does not make a kitchen new there are lots of obstacles and considerations to make in the process. MDF and Particleboard Boxes: Often older cabinets are made of particle or MDF board which does not age well and is immensely affected by moisture, water damage, and age. Over time MDF expands resulting in cracking, separation of joints, and failure of glued components. Painting over an MDF cabinet might make it look good but it will not make it last much longer. In many cases MDF cabinetry can be repaired, re-glued, and joints secured back into place, however, once the MDF material has weakened it will further decay at a rapid pace making the life of refacing an MDF box only a few years at best. New hardware installed into MDF boxes often fail within a few years pulling from screw holes and will likely need to be repaired many times. Plywood Boxes: Plywood makes for a strong box that will last quite a long time. Plywood is much better than MDF but will be subject to expansion and potential damage from moisture over time. If kept dry and relatively clean a plywood box could last 50 years with only minor expansion damage to joints. Refacing a plywood box is a easy choice if the boxes are in good condition as they will last just as long as most newly installed cabinetry. Laminates: Most boxes, plywood or MDF, have laminated components. Laminated surfaces are often the most considered obstacle in the refacing process. Laminates do not wear well over time and often come unglued from boxes due to the expansion of both MDF and wood, laminates often do not expand with the box and will eventually delaminate over time. Many natural wood laminates can be sanded, filled and painted in solid colors quite easily, plastic laminates might require removal and replacement which could cost as much as new boxes in time and material. Stain or Paint? Existing stained boxes can be potentially cleaned up and stained a darker color, some stains can be bleached lighter but often result in spotting finishes. the best way to get a new stained finish is to re-laminate all edge work and then apply a fresh stain finish. This adds about 2 or 3 days to the project, about $2000 to $3000 in labor and materials. When refacing it is recommended to go with a solid paint color. Glaze coats can be added to solid colors to get a custom finish look. New cabinet accessories (pull outs, drawers, soft close hardware, etc...) There may be limitations in adding cabinet accessories that improve storage and functionality to your current cabinet design. You might spend more on customization of existing cabinets, expensive modifications, and hardware, resulting in fewer savings. When Replacement is the Only Option Not all cabinets can be refaced. Here are some situations when youll have to replace them: The Cabinets are Structurally Unsuitable You may have moved into a home with cabinets made of low-grade materials. If the entire cabinet and interior structure is composed of something very inexpensive and non-durable, such as compressed particle board, then refacing isnt an option. The structure just isnt good enough to work with, and youll need to replace. The Cabinets Cant be Repaired If a cabinet frame is rotted, covered in mold, water damaged, or the wood is swollen or falling apart, it can not be refaced. However, some of the other cabinets may be in good shape, in which case you can reface those, and replace the ones that cant be repaired. Internal hardware in Bad Shape If the drawers are off track and dont operate smoothly, and the cabinets dont have adequate shelving or storage accessories, replacing them with modern cabinets and drawers is the preferable option, rather than spending the money on refacing. Change of Kitchen Layout or Complete Remodel Refacing is used for kitchens retaining essentially the same configuration. Youll need new cabinets under the following circumstances: the layout is going to be completely changed (e.g cabinet walls removed), the kitchens being moved to an entirely different room, or youre doing a complete remodel. Only cabinet boxes remaining in place can be refaced. For partial layout changes, the cabinets staying in place can be refaced, while new ones can be installed elsewhere (e.g. for a kitchen island or peninsula). The Cabinets are Metal Metal cabinets are difficult to work with, are sometimes rusty, and cant easily be refaced. Its better to replace them. The Cabinets Have an Unpleasant Odor Food odors can permeate the wood in cabinets over time, leaving unpleasant odors that are extremely difficult to remove. You dont want smelly cabinets in an updated kitchen. Replace them with fresh cabinetry. Structural Limitations In some older homes (and some newer ones), floors have sagged and settled, walls are leaning and out of plumb, and the kitchen cabinets attached to them are also out of kilter. There are gaps at the edges of the cabinetry, and the doors dont close properly. These cabinets have to be replaced with brand new ones, and you may want to consider a complete kitchen renovation. Refacing Finish Options for new Door and Drawer Covers: Generally, finish options for refacing vary by existing cabinetry material: Rigid thermofoil (RTF) is a very malleable vinyl foil that is pressure-molded over medium-density-fiberboard (MDF) doors. Its moisture-resistant as long as the coating isnt damaged. Theres a wide choice of colors and patterns, and its wood grain is made to look realistic. Its the most affordable option compared to laminate and wood. Plastic laminates come in hundreds of colors and patterns, including a wood-grain look. Theyre slightly more expensive than RTF and are moisture-resistant. A cabinet door with laminate will last longer than a cabinet door with thermofoil. However, they lack malleability, which compared to RTF limits them to plain cabinet door styles. Solid Wood and Wood Veneer includes oak, cherry, maple, birch, walnut, or almost any wood you want, with a choice of different stain colors. Wood must be sealed to protect against moisture. Its the most expensive option, running 10 to 25 percent more than RTF and laminates but will last quite longer than both. Repainting existing Door & Drawer covers is often not recommended but can be done if they are wood and in good starting condition. It's a labor intensive process and for the time it takes to sand, prep, and paint existing door and drawer covers you could potentially buy brand new ones. If you really love your existing door and drawer covers due to a specific trim out, moulding, or raised panel look, re-finishing them might be the only option to get that same look. Matching existing trim and/or raised panel door and drawer covers We make all our doors and drawer covers by hand. We use a CNC to try and duplicate existing trim when possible, we can get pretty close and often the result is visually spot on but it will never be exact. Duplication of raised panel doors and drawer covers can substantially raise/affect the end cost of a kitchen finish by 20% to 30%. Duplication is done at best efforts, you will be billed the full cost to remake door/drawer covers, trim and faux panels if you are not satisfied with the duplication and want items to be remade and/or modified. Freshening Up the Interiors When refacing the cabinets, you may want to consider freshening up the interiors as well. For a low cost, you can sand and paint them yourself for a clean new look. Be sure the paint you choose is suitable for the surface youre working on, and that the primer is tinted the same color as the top coat. What to expect when all is done? Your kitchen will be beautiful but not without its minor flaws. The goal is always 100% but we often find we hit about 98%. Common things to expect are; Door/Drawer covers will not line up perfectly Joints between cabinets might slightly show New door/drawer covers might not fit flat against pre-existing cabinetry Existing dings or flaws in original doors/drawers and cabinets might be emphasized after new paint colors are applied (white tends to show all small flaws due to shadowing) New hardware might not fit well and often result in one or two areas that might need rework or care over time. As a professional custom cabinet designer and builder, I want my work to always be 100%. Kitchen refacing is a challenge, and it is a very rare occurrence when a kitchen reface/remodel goes perfect from start to finish without changes and additional costs. It takes patience and consideration for work that has to be done to make something that has been neglected 20 years or more look and function like new. Once we start all types of things can go wrong and usually quite a few do. We have experienced many challenges and the best way to have a successful reface is by successfully setting expectations. We can definitely make an older kitchen look new but at a reasonable cost is always a concern. We can get to 98% in most cases on budget, it is that 2% that often throws us over the top. Good communication during the process of restoration allows you to make that final determination at how close to perfection and at what cost you would like to get to 100%.