Updated: November 2017

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing:

One of the first areas of a house that requires remodeling is the kitchen. It seems that appliances, floors, sinks, countertops, all go out of style at some point. Kitchen cabinets are a big part of any remodel job and often you can save $$ by just refacing the cabinets instead of replacing them. Ultimately it's the homeowners decision as to what they want to do. Cabinet refacing is not cheap, but it's definitely less expensive than buying brand new ones. In our recent kitchen remodel we decided that the cabinets needed to be refaced since they were structurally sound. Over the years they have become scratched on the outside and the paint is chipping away on some edges. A few years ago we had replaced the cabinet hardware which had become outdated. The new satin nickel knobs and pulls looked great but we knew a refacing would follow shortly. How much does refacing kitchen cabinets cost? Do I need a professional to do it? We answer those questions and many more below.

You might get ads in the paper or mail for cabinet refacing, also commonly called cabinet resurfacing or refinishing. I see offers from Sears, Home Depot and Lowes all the time for their services. I've even heard of some DIY types that take on a project of this scope and successfully complete it. I know my skills around the house, and redoing our kitchen cabinets was going to be left up to the pros. One of my neighbors had their cabinets refaced and I saw first hand the before and after pictures. I was sold that this would really liven up our kitchen and go well with the new granite countertops. Finding a contractor to handle a big job like this is not easy. I was lucky enough to use the same company that my neighbor used and they did great work. You can find cabinet contractors on Craigslist or online if you search for those terms on Google. You'll want to get 3 estimates on the work and make sure that each quote clearly lays out what the price includes. Also, check that the contractor is licensed, bonded, and insured in your state. Checking references is not a idea either. Expect the project to last between 2 to 4 days and perhaps longer if you have custom cabinet work that needs to be done. The cost to reface varies by style of cabinets and size of kitchen. The more cabinet space you have the higher the estimates will run. Keep in mind this is a good time to add things like lazy susans, rollout drawers, crown trim, breadboards, or shelfing. If you haven't done so already get new pulls or handles and hinges for the doors. No sense in coming back and redoing those items at a later time.

Cabinet Refacing Cost:

Ok, now to the guts of the project. Just what is it going to cost you to reface your cabinets. Prices range from $1000 to $9000 with lots of variations in between. The low end price is for RTF or plastic laminate. RTF stands for rigid thermo foil and it is quite durable and owners say it's easy to clean. The plastic laminates range from $1000 to $3000 to reface and although less durable than RTF, you get to choose from more color options. Wood veneers are the most expensive of the bunch at $2500 to $6000 - we did read some reviews from homeowners who paid closer to $9000 for high quality wood veneer. Our project ran just under $6000 and included all the things listed below:
  • reface existing kitchen cabinets with Eastern hardrock veneer - included covering the bottoms of our upper cabinets
  • install pulls or handles that we had purchased
  • build and install solid maple frame and panel doors in recessed panel style
  • install all doors on hidden Euro hinges that are spring loaded and fully adjustable
  • install crown trim around the perimeter of the upper cabinets
  • install new breadboard made of solid alder
  • build and install 3 rollout drawers
  • build and install 7 new drawers that are to be mounted on white vinyl clad ball bearing glides
  • finish all wood products with a clear conversion varnish finish
You should be able to get estimates from 3 contractors for the work required and then you can compare the $$ amounts to see which one you want to go with. Always get references and ask plenty of questions. The biggest complaint from homeowners is that the contractor sticks them with a bigger bill due to work having to be done that was not discussed initially.

Refacing vs Replacing Kitchen Cabinets:

Replacing the cabinets in your kitchen is probably not a great option when you look at prices. If you are going to do a complete remodel of the kitchen area, then perhaps outdated and oddly shaped cabinets may need replacing. In our case the house was not that old and the cabinets were still in tremendous shape so we went with refacing. Many people think that refacing is too much and decide on replacement instead. All we can say is ask your contractor for some before and after pictures of cabinet refacing projects and you might change your mind. The facelift on the cabinets can really change the dynamics of the kitchen and help accent things like granite countertops or new appliances.