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Asked on Aug 26, 2012

Kitchen Cabinets: Reface or Just Buy New?

HaroldBecky (J) PBONNIE J
+53

Answered

Does anyone have experience with comparing the cost (and aggravation) of refacing kitchen cabinets versus just buying new? I honestly just install new cabinets and have no experience with only replacing the doors.
I recently priced out the cost of a standard shaker cabinet door for a 36 inch base cabinet and it was $57 for just plain poplar wood. So, two doors would be roughly $114.
The existing cabinets in these photos are laminate and they're in my Sister's newly purchased (35 year young) house from the 70s.
I'm looking for some thoughts and opinions. They are leaning toward buying IKEA cabinets with a shaker style. Thanks :)
Jeff
www.homerepairtutor.com
70s Style Laminate Cabinets-Oh Yah!!! Break out your Disco shoes.
70s Style Laminate Cabinets-Oh Yah!!! Break out your Disco shoes.
The cabinets are in good shape but is it worth refacing them?
The cabinets are in good shape but is it worth refacing them?
56 answers
  • Shari
    on Aug 26, 2012

    I lived in my previous home for 35 years and had the original kitchen cabinets refaced twice during that time since I did not desire or require any changes in cabinet placement. Then, the process was very affordable but the most recent time we had the cabinets resurfaced was approximately 15-18 years ago so I have no idea what the cost runs now. I was extremely pleased with the results but more importantly, we didn't end up with a kitchen renovation that was over-priced for our little 1950's 1300 sq. ft. ranch-style "starter" home. Thought you and your sister might be interested in this link about a blogger who is currently in the middle of a kitchen renovation with IKEA shaker style cabinets: http://southernhospitalityblog.com/weeks-16-17-why-i-chose-ikea-kitchen-cabinets/#

  • Both refacing and replacement have their place. While replacement is the ideal way of going, oftentimes a good quality face life with new doors is all that is warranted. However the quality of the face lift has a big bearing of the success of the project. I have seen face lifts where they nailed on thin plywood over all the fronts and stained them. Then I have seen where they used a wood veneer cut out in strips to follow the grain pattern of the stick built type. These oftentimes come out really nice if the person doing it is a craftsman. You must figure in the time it takes to remove and replace, What about counters? That adds to the cost as well. Do not forget the room itself. While I have seen little (OK) no homes in which the room was square or the floor level. All of these improvements along with floor to match the new cabinet must be figured in. Of course if the original cabinets were press board and cheep from the beginning, those that were stick built with plywood backs and sides oftentimes come out nice. Nowadays replacement even custom doors are pretty reasonable to purchase. While many years ago they were simply built or updated on site. So do not just cost out the cabinet itself. Figure in tops, plumbing, floors and repairing walls all in the process. Face lifting in these cases can be cheaper.

  • Home Repair Tutor
    on Aug 27, 2012

    Thanks Shari for your comment. Good to hear you liked the refaced cabinets. I also appreciated the link to Southern Hospitality :)

  • Home Repair Tutor
    on Aug 27, 2012

    I appreciate your feedback Woodbridge-it's always top notch!! You're absolutely right about factoring in the whole process. That's why I often to remodel jobs in the kitchen myself to save a little money on the labor. This is especially true when I renovate our rental properties. I know for sure my sister will be replacing the countertop, sink, and faucet. We'll have to take a good look at what she wants in terms of style as well as functionality.

  • Designs by BSB
    on Aug 27, 2012

    My opinion? If your sister plans to stay long term she should think long term. Refacing is often times a bandaid. But the bigger view from my perspective is the function of the space. Ive been house hunting myself and find it kind of sad when people will spend $3K + on new granite counter tops but not consideration to the poor function of the layout/placement of appliances and poor functioning drawers, and lack of modern conveniences.

  • Julie Carroll
    on Aug 27, 2012

    If the cabinets boxes were solid wood - reface. But laminate - I'd replace if she plans on living in the house 5+ years.

  • Home Repair Tutor
    on Aug 29, 2012

    Thanks Becky Sue and Julie for your tips. I'm thinking she should just replace them. They would like to stay in this house for probably the next 5 years. And a moderate kitchen remodel could be recouped when they go to sell the home. That's assuming our economy and home market come back to pre 2008 values.

  • Gregory Tim Johnson
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Getting ready to do this in my kitchen an this will save u alot ,truly blessed to have came accross this idea,such a blessing an thanks alot...

  • Sandi K
    on Sep 2, 2012

    I can't afford to replace mine, so I am refacing them myself, building the beadboard shaker style doors, etc., and then will do a custom paint and glazing finish. Solid wood, and in good shape, just plain; old; and unattractive to start with.

  • Nancy C
    on Sep 2, 2012

    how about no doors... seeing so many open face cabinets today and they look sooo nice... of course not on all of them if they are for the foods and things you don't want seen... but you could do a lot of open and save on the doors

  • Chris S
    on Sep 2, 2012

    When we bought our current house, the cabinets had been refaced. Initially they looked good. Once we had been in the house a few months, we noticed that the sheeting they put on the boxes was not a quality job. We replaced the cabinets, changed the floor plan and are thrilled with our new kitchen. BTW we plan to live here at least 15 years.

  • Laura S
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Because they are laminate and not real wood, I vote for replacing. Ikea does have very nice cabinets

  • Melissa W
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Kitchens are a great investment if your thinking of selling in the next couple of years or so.. normally you can expect to get 80 percent of your investment back.

  • BONNIE J
    on Sep 2, 2012

    MY SON-IN-LAW GOT ME ALL NEW UPPERS & A NEW BOTTOM PART 4 BETWEEN KITCHEN & L.R., THEN PUT ON ALL NEW DOORS & HARDWARE WE PICKED OUT TO USE. HE WOULD SAY RE-FACE, BUT HE ALWAYS HELPS PEOPLE ADD, CHANGE, ETC TO MAKE THEIR KITCHENS AS EFFICIENT AS POSSIBLE FOR THE SPACE THEY HAVE TO WORK WITH!! THE ''BOXES'' ARE NOT THE IMPT PART--IT IS WHAT PEOPLE SEE!! AND RE-FACING SHOULD MEAN THE DOORS/DRAWERS ARE NEW, NOT JUST COVERED! YOU CAN DO SO MUCH WITH SOME OR ALL OF THE BARE BONES YOU HAVE, IF IN GOOD SHAPE!!

  • Diane H
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Laminate???.... Replace!!!

  • Linda Z
    on Sep 2, 2012

    I re-faced 30 yrs ago. the cabinets were in great shape. solid wood. I painted them about 8 yrs ago and they still look great with the new knobs.

  • Kevarchery
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Its not worth the work.. If you have a good budget buy new. Im a cabinet builder and custom wood worker .. Dont waste your time .

  • Marilyn B
    on Sep 2, 2012

    I recentl had my cabinets refaced and love the craftmanship and they gave me a free cabinet. American Cabinets Refacers did an outstanding job.

  • Betty Reese
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Our cabinets are solid wood (ash) --when we redid our kitchen we bought new doors because we wanted a different style. We were able to buy enough ash doors for around $1,000.00. We stripped the existing cabinets and then stained existing cabinets and the new doors in a "cherry" tone. added a little trim and they look really good. Very proud of them and we saved at least $9,000.00.

  • Kate S
    on Sep 2, 2012

    If they were wood, I would reface them, but since they are not, I would replace them with the best wood ones you can afford. Once you have wood ones up there, you can later paint them or reface them and it will be worth it because they are wood, not laminate.

  • Mary Jeanne Botteon
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Replace. Laminate will not stand up well to refacing. That works very well with solid wood cabinets.

  • Home Repair Tutor
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Thank you all for your great feedback. I love posting questions like this because of the wonderful discussions and suggestions.

  • Donna
    on Sep 2, 2012

    Before you buy new make sure you can find exactly the sizes you need.

  • Deb lamica
    on Sep 3, 2012

    We refaced our cabinets. Home depot did a great job. They use the existing box frame of your old cabinets, and you get new doors, hardware, etc. I was also able to get interior roll outs and it was awesome

  • Deb lamica
    on Sep 3, 2012

    Note to above post, we had repainted the exsisting cabinets a couple years prior, and it was so labor intensive and hated the way they turned out

  • BONNIE J
    on Sep 4, 2012

    DEB, MY SON-IN-LAW DOES REFACING 4 HOME DEPOT, PLUS HIS OWN BUSINESS CALLED ''KITCHEN MAGIC''!

  • BONNIE J
    on Sep 4, 2012

    MINE WERE ''VERY'' OLD & PAINTED! AS SOON AS HE SAW THAT I HAD TO HAVE NEW ONES! TOP & NEW PART WERE ALL NEW BUT BOTTOMS WERE LEFT & HE GAVE ME DRAWERS THERE & ON THE NEW BOTTOM PIECE!

  • Shawne D
    on Sep 6, 2012

    We just contracted with Home Depot to reface our cabinets in our new (to us) house. To replace the doors, drawers and to reface the boxes it was just over $11,000 and that is with a discount. It was much more than I anticipated especially since there aren't many cabinets to begin with. Will post before/after photos once the work is done.

  • Home Repair Tutor
    on Sep 6, 2012

    Thanks Shawne for your update, please let us all know how your remodel turns out :)

  • Shawne D
    on Sep 12, 2012

    I sure will, I'm excited!

  • BONNIE J
    on Sep 13, 2012

    a lot of different people involved before your cabinets are in & all finished!

  • Mary Insana
    on Oct 1, 2012

    $11,000 to reface and that was with a discount? Sounds like a lot to me. I was going to get an estimate from Home depot the other day. When I was answering the questions, they insisted that my husband to be home when they came. I explained that I make all the home improvement decisions in out home. When they insisted that he be home, I told them I don't deal with anyone that won't work with a woman alone. I've had that problem before and shopped around until I found someone that will speak to me and not through my husband.

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Oct 1, 2012

    @Mary Insana That is pretty odd coming from HD. I have far more women clients than Men. To many of them I am the "husband" that can fix all of the things that they can't....LOL

  • Mary Insana
    on Oct 1, 2012

    I wish you were near me then ! Here in Pittsburgh I have a hard time finding anyone to do major work without my husbands "consent" lol. He'd rather me take care of those decisions.

  • Home Repair Tutor
    on Oct 3, 2012

    Mary, good for you (I'm referring to your second to last comment). Too many people still feel that women can't do home remodeling or repairs without guys. This is 2012 and guess what, my daughters will definitely be exposed to tiling, drywall, painting, etc. I understand that certain projects may require the help of professionals but anyone can discover the art of home remodeling :)

  • Mary Insana
    on Oct 4, 2012

    Thanks Home Repair Tutor :-) I'll tackle just about anything within reason. I usually have about 4 different "projects" going on at once. I contribute that to my self diagnosis of ADD. Right now I am painting the master bedroom . I also have the old wallpaper border halfway down in the master bath to get ready to paint in there. I have the paint colors picked out and large sample squares painted in the kitchen and living room. I am also doing sewing projects for friends. I have an embroidery sewing machine and will be making Christmas stockings for them to give as gifts. I also make Memory Pillows through word of mouth referrals. They are made from clothing from deceased loved ones. I have 5 of those to have done for Christmas......And I also work part time as a Nanny. PS. I'm 58 years old and have a husband, 16 year old daughter and a 20 year old son in college 3 cats and a dog !

  • Home Repair Tutor
    on Oct 4, 2012

    I'm worn out just thinking about your schedule ;)

  • Shawn H
    on Oct 8, 2012

    Any update, Shawne D? I am doing the refacing soon as well but I am currently stuck on what to do with the interior shelves. Do they make an epoxy coating for this purpose?

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Oct 8, 2012

    Shelves are easy to upgrade as they are removable. Melamine coated stock works great, you can even get some nice iron on banding for the edges if you like. When I built cabinets I often use that for the interiors and then edge joint a strip of real wood that matches the cabinets to the edge.

  • Shawn H
    on Oct 10, 2012

    50% of the shelves are not removable in our kitchen.

  • Shawne D
    on Dec 10, 2012

    Sooooo, we had our cabinets refaced...twice...and it has to be done again. Mary, I agree, $11,000 was way too much for the headache it has caused. The first crew that came in did about as good of a job as I'm sure a 5 year old could have done (and the time estimate of getting started on the project was 4-6 weeks and it was over 8 weeks later before the first crew came out). So, the first crew had to be fired, new thermofoil was ordered and another week later, the project started again. All of the work the first crew did had to be removed and the second crew had to start from scratch. I was without a kitchen for several weeks. The second crew did the very best they could but the problem is the product. It is TERRIBLE. The thermofoil scratches if you run your nail over it, when applied, it looks like you can see the glue behind it, the doors, which came direct from the factory, had scratches on them, and when routing the edges, the thermofoil scratched horribly. The manufacturer also sent the wrong drawer fronts (they sent flat--should have been 5 piece). Long story short, I emailed corporate and they are redoing the kitchen again at their cost (to include repairing the counters that were scratched during the refacing and if they can't be repaired, they will replace). They've also pulled the line at least in this area until they can figure out why the product is so completely inferior (at a SUPERIOR price). Unfortunately, I'm not going to end up with the kitchen I have wanted for the last year because the other lines of refacing they carry are very limited in their color choices (I mean, do people still do hunter green cabinets?!). So, I had a white kitchen to start, paid $11,000 to have a gray/green cabinet refacing project done and in the end, I'm going to end up back with a white kitchen. Sigh. Here is a picture of the kitchen. It looks beautiful until you get up close and you can see scratches everywhere. I'll let you know how round 3 goes. Honestly, I would NEVER do refacing again. I think it is cheaper and less time consuming to just replace. First is a before (as the kitchen was when we moved in) and then after.

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  • Ron
    on Dec 19, 2012

    I totally refaced my cabinets. I made all the frame and panel doors using bead board for the panel and simply patched and painted them all. I even built more cabinets to match using a lower grade plywood. I have had people think I bought them. With a little work you can do it yourself. People are amazed when I tell them I only spent $800 for the whole remodeled kitchen.

  • Diane D
    on Dec 19, 2012

    We refaced about four years ago but did the work ourselves. We bought solid maple doors and the rolls of veneer we needed, etc. - on line. We thought the price for the material was very good, we were thrilled with the results, and we're totally satisfied with the durability. But it was all about the labor, which is obviously why it's so costly to have someone else do the work. We spent a few solid weekends plus evenings doing the work. It was A LOT of attention-to-detail labor! I would do it again under the same specific circumstances. We got pretty good at it by the time we finished.

  • MellowMoonbat Peeler
    on Dec 20, 2012

    When my relative refaced her cabinets, it meant a veneer was put over the existing doors and drawers. When I had my cabinets updated, I'm not sure if what I did is called refacing. The "skeleton" of the cabinets (shelves, sides, etc,) are very solid and of good quality. It was the doors and drawer fronts that were worn. We hired a carpenter to make new doors & drawer fronts to replace the old ones. Then the old wood was sanded and stained to match the new mahogany color of the new wood. This turned out great and I could not be more pleased.

  • Joy Hendricksen
    on Dec 20, 2012

    Depends on if the current configuration works and how much time & money is available for the project. I love re-using old things especially if one can modernize them a bit. We are adding steel drawers to our old base cabinets.

  • Shawn H
    on Dec 20, 2012

    My refacing turned out fine. The material is super durable but I didn't go with the Martha Stewart product. Home Depot was super careful about customer service and making sure it went well. I do HATE the high pressure sales of the sub-contractor US Remodelers. So all in all it was a good deal, it looks good and saved me over $6000 for a full remodel.

  • Janet D
    on Dec 20, 2012

    Those Ikea cabinets are sounding really good. Why invest the money refacing, if the outsides are laminate? Not worth it!!!

  • Diane D
    on Dec 20, 2012

    New cabinets would be great - and I've read that many bloggers have been happy with their Ikea choice. One comment, though - if you refaced those "laminate" cabinets, you'd be adding wood veneer to the outsides and the face frames. I had 2/3 original wood cabinets (from 1971) and 1/3 recently added Merillat wood/laminate cabinets. (And yes, I bought a house with a mish-mashed kitchen!) You can use wood doors on the cabinets side or order the plywood panels that are veneered to your finish. Covering the face frames with wood veneer was the most time consuming part of the project, but it tied everything together. We did add (build) one upper cabinet over the microwave, so it helps to have some DIY experience to do this project. With just the cost of the doors and veneer, etc., we saved a ton - if you don't count our time of course. I researched this for a few years before ordering. That said, in other circumstances, I'd not hesitate to go with full replacement.

  • Shawn H
    on Dec 21, 2012

    I did get much better drawers, drawer slides and hinge hardware than I saw on any Ikea product.

  • Carol humphrey
    on Jan 24, 2013

    reface absoulutley...

  • Carol humphrey
    on Jan 24, 2013

    i love this post, thank you so much, so many CHEEP ideas !!!

  • Marie R
    on Feb 11, 2013

    Wow..glad to hear all the advice, too!!

  • BONNIE J
    on Feb 12, 2013

    MARY--I UNDERSTAND THEM WANTING U BOTH THERE. HAVING BEEN IN SALES, YOU'D BE AMAZED AFTER GIVING A LONG SALES PRESENTATION HOW MANY WOMEN TELL U THEY HAVE TO TALK TO THEIR HUSBAND 1ST! THE HUSBAND WHO HASN'T HAD THE BENEFIT OF HEARING ALL THE BENEFITS, IN MOST CASES SAYS, ''NO''! SALE LOST AFTER ALL THAT TIME & EFFORT!! SAD, BUT STILL VERY COMMON--THE MAN RULES! SO DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.

  • Becky (J) P
    on Jul 31, 2013

    interesting post, sorry I am late to the discussion. @Mary I. I totally agree with you about the "husband" part. If you can't take my word for it, you aren't getting my business. My husband has nothing to do with the "decorating/money" aspect of this house, I do. @BONNIE J, sometimes you have to play the "husband" card to get the contractor out of the house......it's called stalling. The "man" does not rule in this house! lol

  • Harold
    on Apr 8, 2014

    I have been a kitchen contractor for 30 years and the last thing you want to do is have your cabinets refaced. It is very expensive and you still have your old cabinets. The salesman will tell you they don't make cabinets like that any more, well he is full of BS. It is just a sales pitch. I have purchased new cabinets for less the refacing cost. I would always beat the refacers estimate by a lot. I would buy my cabinets from All Wood Cabinets.Com they have good prices and good cabinets. So take it from experience don't reface.

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