As budgets have tightened over the last few years, cabinet refacing has begun to grow in popularity.

Not long ago, the idea of refacing a cabinet seemed almost like a custom project—something to be pursued only if you were looking for a unique style or color you couldn’t find in standard cabinets. But as budgets tightened, the appeal of refacing grew.

On average, refacing can cost about half of what standard boxed cabinets cost. What was once seen as a tedious project is now seen as a “cheat code” to completing a quality kitchen renovation on a dime. But there are still some caveats to consider before you cancel that cabinet order; refacing doesn’t work for every project.

What Is Refacing?

Simply put, “refacing” is replacing the cabinet door and drawer fronts. The replacement doors and drawers are custom-made to order so they match the exact sizes you need. The sky is the limit for the colors, shapes, and styles you can order. Refacing kits even include matching paint in case you need to match your cabinet color to the next color you choose for the fronts. For example, if you’re going from a white cabinet to sage green doors and drawers, you’ll want to paint the face frame to match.

Pros and Cons

If refacing is so great, why doesn’t everyone do it?

There are a few things to consider before you start a refacing project. The most important thing to review is the condition of the existing cabinet carcasses. If there’s been any water damage, then refacing is an immediate no. Likewise, if your cabinets are cheaply made with a material such as particle board, they’re probably not worth refacing.

The ideal situation for refacing is to have a great wooden cabinet (even if it’s more than 20 years old!) with an old-fashioned look and feel that you can give a facelift.

Also consider the other features of your renovation. If you’re ripping up all the flooring, and removing the countertops, keep the cabinet carcasses in mind. It might be worth choosing boxed cabinets if trying to preserve the existing cabinets will slow down or hinder the renovation.

Here are the pros and cons of refacing:

Refacing Pros:

  • About half the cost of boxed cabinets
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Minimally invasive renovation (a new look and feel without all the dust)
  • Quick turnaround

Refacing Cons:

  • Delicate handiwork compared to installing premade boxed cabinets (requires painting face frames, installing hinges, lining up drawer fronts)
  • Not an option if you’re changing the layout of the existing kitchen or the existing cabinet carcasses are of poor quality

Happy renovating!

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