All You Must Know About Cabinet Refacing

cabinet refacing

Should you replace or reface your cabinets? When you are faced with a kitchen remodeling project, you have two main options for updating your kitchen cabinets without the need to install new ones. The two primary options are replacing and refacing. These options significantly boost the value and appearance of your kitchen. But, many of their similarities end there.

Cabinet refacing typically entails covering the outer surfaces of your cabinets with new veneers, hardware, and moldings. In case your existing cabinet is a solid wood, refinishing or repainting it with a new color of stain or paint can also update its appearance.

As a homeowner, you understand well that your kitchen is the heart of your home that sees the most traffic. Therefore, it is important to give it a facelift particularly when the cabinets become outdated or worn. Today, cabinet refacing is a well-liked option over major kitchen remodeling. This is because the options and materials have become more advanced technologically. Besides, the price of refacing is about half that of entire cabinet replacement.

Factors to consider when deciding whether to reface or replace your cabinets

1. Functionality

In case, you don’t have any issue with your current layout, and you want to maintain your kitchen design, the best choice is to reface your cabinets. But, if you prefer additional storage, more flexible functions or counter space, you should consider new cabinets.

2. Durability

Check if the structure of your existing cabinets is stable. In case you doubt the whole condition of your cabinetry, then a professional contractor can assist you to establish if you need more than the cosmetic of refacing.

3. Appearance

If you have committed to a substantial investment in updating some parts of your kitchen, you need to consult a highly experienced kitchen remodeling professional to help you determine if your kitchen will be better off with a total renovation.

4. Cost

If time and funds are not important factors in your kitchen remodeling, then you can consider other options provided with replacements. There is a broad range of new cabinetry with many choices available in both custom offerings and stock. But, your budget is important. Refinishing or refacing your cabinets can save both money and time during your kitchen remodel.

Kitchen cabinets that have structurally firm cabinet boxes and are in good conditions are the best refacing candidates compared to the cabinets that are deformed, have broken frames or water damage. If you consider cabinet refacing, you can also replace the knobs, hinges, molding and pulls to complete the new appearance.

Costs of refacing cabinets

The costs of cabinet refacing can differ widely. It is important that you pay careful consideration to construction, drawer, and door hardware, quality of materials and interior accessories. In addition, despite the fact that it is much lengthier and very involving project to install new cabinets than refacing, your access & use of your kitchen can still be very limited during the project. Cabinet refacing cost is about half, or a third of the total cost of an entire kitchen remodel.

Pros of cabinet refacing

Consider refacing your cabinets in case you are planning to maintain your kitchen layout and want the work to be completed quickly. Besides, you will be able to use your kitchen during the process of remodeling. Below are some of the advantages of refacing.

  • There is no required demolition
  • There is no subcontractors
  • No ongoing maintenance required
  • It is faster and cheaper compared to replacement.
  • Heat, scratch, moisture and impact-resistant
  • There is wide range of colors, finishes and styles
  • It can be cleaned easily with water and soap
  • Recessed & raised panels
  • Wood and MDF/RTF Options
  • Unglazed and glazed options
  • Match base & crown molding

Cons of cabinet refacing

  • Refacing will not fix a bad design of your kitchen
  • You will be tempted to spend more on exotic veneer & hardware. This will increase the total cost of refacing.

Choosing the correct material for your cabinets

You have two options when choosing the right refacing material. These options are Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF) with RTF (Rigid Thermofoil) finish and Wood Cabinets.

MDF/FTF Cabinets

MDF (Medium-Density Fiberboard) is the most admired composite material nowadays. MDF manufacturers use high quality recycled wood fibers & resin only. The process involves uniformly separating the particles to make an excellent and consistent material that is cooked & pressure steam. It is a good substitute for solid wood in different applications. It is also your perfect option for painting because there are no wood grain features. Medium-Density Fiberboard is versatile, and it is used in furniture, shelves, doors and decorative molding.

RTF (Rigid Thermofoil) is a laminate finish which is applied to Medium-Density Fiberboard with heat-activated glue under vast pressure in a high vacuum press. If you want a beautiful product with no any upkeep and care that natural wood cabinets need, Rigid Thermofoil is your best choice.

Wood Cabinets

There are three significant choices when you are choosing the correct wood. These choices are the type, grain, and color. Woods are categorized as either soft or hard. Softwoods are made from needle-bearing evergreen trees. On the other hand, hardwoods come from broad-leaf trees like oak, maple, and cherry. Natural wood have non-uniform grain patterns that result in an inconsistent appearance. It is important for you to note that, over time, wood cabinets are prone to warping because of moisture and heat.


Refacing your present kitchen cabinetry and accessories is the best way for you to get brand new, fresh looking cabinets for much less than the total cost of replacing them. However, this cheaper option is not good for every person and every kitchen. Just like other home improvement plans, there are some of the factors that you need to consider before you decide to reface your cabinet. When deciding whether to reface or replace your kitchen cabinets, you should keep in mind that it is cheaper to reface than replace. Refacing also provides a brand new appearance. Besides, there is no demolition during cabinet refacing. However, it is not a do-it-yourself thing.

Image: Jenna Sue

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