When Updating Old Kitchen Cabinets Should You Reface or Replace?

Replace or Reface Kitchen Cabinetry

Updating old kitchen cabinets? Should you reface or replace them? We look at the pros and cons

If you're tired of your old kitchen and want to give it a facelift, you have two options. You can replace your cabinets which can be a considerable expense when you factor in demolition, replacing the cabinets, replacing the hardware and fixing any damage done during the installation. If you're completely remodeling your kitchen, this is the recommended choice. It allows you to start fresh, and redesign your kitchen changing the layout. This can cost you some serious money, but you end up with a new kitchen.

The second option is to reface your cabinets. This consists of using the existing cabinet boxes, occasionally including the doors and hardware, and upgrading your kitchen cabinets. This is much more budget friendly and when well, can give you a beautifully updated kitchen.

Let's look at the pros and cons of replacement vs updating old kitchen cabinets, including exactly what the refacing process entails and the best circumstances for each option.

Updating Old Kitchen Cabinets: The Refacing Process

Refacing kitchen cabinets consists of installing new drawer fronts and cabinet doors and covering the face frames of your existing cabinet boxes with wood or plastic veneer. The entire process takes between two and four days to complete. If you are keeping your existing doors and drawer fronts, they are roughed up and refaced. The boxes are then covered with veneer and then any nail holes are filled. The cabinets can then be stained or painted if desired.

Refacing is an option if several criteria are met. First, your existing cabinet boxes must be of good quality and condition. If you live in an older home, wood cabinet boxes were generally made of higher quality than today's cabinets. These can be good candidates for refacing. Next, it makes sense to reface your cabinets if you are happy with your current kitchen layout. Finally, refacing your cabinets is a great choice if you have a modest budget and are looking for an update at a moderate price. In fact refacing costs about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of replacing your cabinetry.

Updating Old Kitchen Cabinets: Replacement

If you're doing a complete remodel, or if funds and time aren't a major consideration, updating old kitchen cabinets by replacing your existing cabinets offers a great deal of flexibility and many design options. Today, there is a huge selection of both stock and custom made cabinets. The variety of materials for new cabinetry is wide ranging.

If you choose the replacement option, pay special attention to the construction, quality of materials, door and drawer hardware, and interior accessories. Costs and options can vary widely. You also need to be aware that replacement can take significantly longer and be a more involved project than a simple refacing. You will need to allow time for ordering and delivering, or if you are having cabinets custom made, build time. The process of installation includes demolition, replacement and then repairing any damage cause during the removal and installation process. In addition, your access and use of your kitchen may be impacted and extremely limited during the course of the project.

An average replacement cost is two to three times as much as refacing, but in the end, you can have exactly the kitchen you want. Replacing cabinets is a great option if you have the budget and time is not a problem, and also if you are seeking to rearrange or add to your existing layout. Finally, if your existing cabinets are structurally damaged, or you're looking for new features like soft closing doors and drawers or a properly fitting knife block, replacement is a better option.

Whether you choose refacing or replacement for updating old kitchen cabinets, make sure you hire qualified, experienced professionals to do the work. Both options give you the opportunity to improve the look and functionality of your kitchen. While replacement offers more options, refacing offers convenience and savings, but only if the work is done correctly by a professional cabinet installer.

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