Cabinet Refacing Pros and Cons
Outdated or damaged cabinets can quickly ruin the appearance of your kitchen or bathroom, even if you update the other elements in the space. Replacing the cabinets is one way to add an instant update, but you could also reface them instead. The better option depends on your budget and the layout or condition of the existing cabinets.
Refacing cabinets involves installing new cabinet doors and drawer fronts and covering the exposed face frames of the cabinets with a wood or plastic veneer. This typically takes four to six days, depending on the size of your kitchen, and professional artisans usually do the work. The doors and drawer fronts must be removed to reface them, and the old finish is roughed up to prepare the surface for the new covering, which is glued or nailed over the old finish. The nail holes are then filled, and seams and edges are trimmed. Replacing your cabinets is much more involved and can take much longer if you factor in the planning and ordering of the cabinets. The cabinets must be removed, so their contents must be packed away. While homeowners can replace cabinets, a professional installer knows how to measure and order to ensure the cabinets fit perfectly into your kitchen or bathroom.
When refacing cabinets, you typically have three options for finish: rigid thermofoils (RTF), wood veneer, or plastic laminates. Laminates come in various colors, but their rigidity limits their use to plain cabinet styles. RTF uses flexible vinyl foil over medium-density fiberboard and can be shaped into multiple types. Wood veneer gives the look and warmth of natural wood cabinets but costs more than either RTF or laminate. If you replace the cabinets, your design options expand to include various colors, styles, sizes, and materials. You can choose whatever suits your budget.
1. Refacing kitchen or bathroom cabinets cost considerably less than replacing them. Depending on the size of the kitchen and the materials you choose for refacing, you may spend between $3,000 and 8,000 as of 2013. However, even in the high-cost range, you would spend almost twice as much to replace the cabinets because several hidden costs must be included in a complete remodel. For example, get a quote on the cabinets. You must then add the cost of handles, molding, delivery charges, and trim and refinish any left exposed or damaged walls after the replacement.
Making the Right Choice
Consider your current cabinets before you decide whether to replace or reface them. If you’re unhappy with how your cabinets look but are otherwise in good shape and their layout works with your space, refacing may be the right choice. It improves the look of your cabinets and is less disruptive to your daily routine. Because you’re not removing the cabinet, you can leave the contents, which does less work for you. If your kitchen doesn’t work for you in terms of layout, replacing the cabinets allows you to rearrange them. If the cabinets are structurally damaged, you should replace them. Refacing doesn’t correct damage or deterioration of the cabinet materials.
The difference between painting (or refinishing) and refacing your cabinets is simple. Painting your cabinets freshens the existing look of your kitchen cabinetry while refacing them gives it a new look almost entirely.