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Replace, re-face or re-door your kitchen cabinets

Freshening up cabinets by refacing them is less

Freshening up cabinets by refacing them is less disruptive -- and far cheaper -- than gutting the kitchen. Photo Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto

A kitchen renovation is one of the best investments you can make in your home when it comes to selling it and recouping that investment. But living in a home that has a freshly renovated kitchen will bring returns on your enjoyment, and that’s worth the investment, too. So, how do you get a kitchen renovation without the cost of buying all new cabinetry? Fortunately, there are options for renovating your kitchen that don’t require a complete gut job of the room — or your wallet.

Appliances and countertops are usually an easy and almost painless update to the kitchen. But when it comes to the cabinets, that’s where the pain of time and money sets in. Much of the cost of kitchen renovations goes to cabinets, especially if they’re all wood and custom-made. This makes refacing a good option.

A case for replacing is when your cabinets are extremely dated. Some of the cabinet styles of the ’70s will still look like the ’70s even if they’re painted white. Even so, there are options that can give those old cabinets an update and bring them into the current decade. If your cabinets are in bad shape, replacing them is usually the best way to go. Especially if the cabinets are MDF, or medium density fiberboard, which doesn’t always stand up to repairs as well as solid-wood cabinets. But when the style is dated and the cabinet is in good shape, refacing is a good alternative. Refacing will create a new look in the kitchen for a fraction of the cost to replace.


Refacing can be done in one of three ways. The first, least expensive, and easiest is to repaint. The difficulty comes when you have those ’80s oak cabinets that everyone loved. Repainting oak cabinets simply turns them from that yellow oak look to an oak look that’s painted or re-stained a different color.

The problem with oak is the grain, and that’s what makes them look dated. To make oak cabinets look like newer cabinets, you’ll need to apply a grain filler before painting. Even with the extra step, which will cover a lot of the grain, this is still one of the most affordable ways to reface a cabinet and make it look current.


The second type of refacing is using a veneer. The cabinets, drawers and doors are all re-covered with a thin wood veneer. This is applied with an adhesive, or there are some veneers available with adhesive that are applied in a peel and stick fashion. It takes time to do this properly, and having a professional do the job can cost a few thousand dollars.

Door replacement

The last type of refacing involves resurfacing the lower and upper cabinets and then replacing the doors. Each type of refacing is costlier than the next, but you still retain a significant savings over replacing all the cabinets in the kitchen.

Another option that isn’t as labor intensive as completely refacing is to re-door your cabinets. The upper and lower cabinets would be stripped of the old paint and stain and then repainted or re-stained, and then new doors are applied. However, for a new look altogether, you can carefully remove the face frames of the cabinets, then replace with a new face frame and doors. You’ll have a new-looking kitchen in less time and for less than the cost of replacing with all new cabinetry.

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