Kitchen designers are often asked if their clients should reface or replace their cabinets. The best answer is, it depends on the factors below, but first what is refacing and is it for you? Thousands of homeowners each year make the decision to update a kitchen. They often choose to reface their cabinets rather than replace. Rather than spend $25,000 to $40,000 ripping out their kitchen, cabinet refacing is cheaper and less intrusive.
It involves basically covering the frames of the cabinets with wood veneer or plastic like materials and installing new doors. Generally there are 3 different options. Plastics, rigid thermofoils (RTF) and wood veneers. Wood veneers look best but are also more money. With this option you get real wood doors usually, which in my opinion definitely makes it look better.
Thermofoils are not good anywhere they are exposed to heat like dishwasher sides and around the stove. Thermofoils are OK if you want light cabinets and don’t just want to paint them. The factors below should help you in making a decision on whether to reface or replace when considering to update a kitchen.
- Is the layout good? If you go to the expense of refacing your cabinets and you still have a non-functional kitchen you wasted your money.
- If you are very detailed, do not reface as in a lot of cases you will see the seams especially if MDF or composite board is used to glue the new laminate to. This avoids sanding but can look unsightly.
- If you have allergies to glues check to make sure the glues are hypoallergenic.
- If the insides of your cabinets are scratched, made of metal or poorly constructed particle board, replace the cabinets.
- Does your kitchen need insulating? If your walls need to be ripped down to insulate it doesn’t make sense to leave the old cabinets. You can however in some cases use blown-in insulation.
Definitely refacing can be a temporary solution and a permanent one for the buyer who plans on staying in the home short time. You can still get a lot of the options like lazy Susan’s, tilt out for sponges, trash bins, pull out drawers and more. A lot of companies now actually can make additional cabinets to match, for example for over the refrigerator. Some will do floors, backsplashes and countertops. Most will not do electrical or plumbing upgrades. Remember codes have changed and we all now use much more small appliances than before. In closing refacing can work for some homeowners who want to update a kitchen.
It is less money and a lot less intrusive. If your only reason to update is to have light cabinets it is an OK solution. Most jobs are done in under a week. Be aware because the quality of workmanship varies widely. Larger companies like Kitchen Magic from NJ while they might be a little more then the mom and pop refacers do a nice job. In the long run I find homeowners are happier with a complete renovation.