Updating your cabinets goes a long way in refreshing the look of a kitchen. If you are tired of your kitchen’s design or feel that it has become outdated, before you replace the cabinets completely, consider either refacing or refinishing them. Your budget, the time you can devote to the project, and the effect you hope to achieve are the factors that will guide your decision.
Understanding the difference between refacing and refinishing is the first step to updating your cabinets.
When you reface your cabinets, you discard all the cabinet doors, drawer faces, replace them with new ones, and apply a brand new veneer to the existing cabinet boxes.
This is the less time-consuming option, and because your labor costs will be lower, often the less expensive of the two options. There will be no sanding, painting, or other modifications needed. You order your new cabinet doors, drawer faces, and veneer in precisely the style and color want, have them delivered, and they are installed. It’s significantly easier and cleaner than a refinish.
You can try to reface your cabinets yourself, or you can hire a team to help you. The do-it-yourselfer will need some basic carpentry skills, to achieve a decent finished product with doors and drawer faces that hang correctly and veneer that is properly cut. If your skills with a measure and power tools are limited, you may choose to hire a professional.
To refinish your cabinets, you will need to remove all the cabinet doors, drawer faces, and hardware so they can be sanded, repaired, and repainted. The same is true for the cabinet boxes, which can be refinished in place.
If the surface is smooth and you are not changing the color, the sanding required may be minimal, just enough to give the new coat of paint a good surface to grip to. In the case of drawers and doors that are dinged and scratched, they will need to be sanded down to the wood, repaired, then sanded again. This step is also important if you’re buying and installing new hardware with the cabinets—old hardware holes need to be filled before you paint.
After you’ve repaired the surface, you can apply new coats of primer and paint, and either replace the old hardware or install new. Look for paint that is specifically designed for the wear and tear that often happens in kitchens. Finally, you can reinstall the cabinet doors and drawer faces.
You can see by the steps outlined here, cabinet refinishing is considerably more work and requires more skills than refacing. Paint that is applied to an improperly prepared surface will peel and chip almost immediately. Drips or imperfections in the paint are easily noticeable. For cabinet refinishing, it’s a good idea to hire professionals.
How to Decide?
If you’re unsure whether to reface or refinish, here are some factors to consider that may help you make your decision.
Every project differs in terms of how much time it will take to complete. The number of cabinets to reface or refinish, their condition, how many people are working on the project and the effect you are trying to achieve will all affect the timetable.
However, when it comes to refacing versus refinishing, refacing typically takes less time because the new cabinet doors and drawer faces are pre-painted, and veneer takes less time to apply than refinishing a cabinet box. So, if quick turn-around time is important to you, consider refacing over refinishing.
The average cabinet refinishing project can cost as little as half of refacing because there is no need to purchase new doors and drawers. The exact cost, however, will vary greatly depending on the number and condition of your kitchen cabinets and your desired result. It’s important to get estimates from qualified professionals to help you weigh the cost and benefit of each option.
When you are choosing between a reface and a refinish, consider the effect you hope to achieve. Are you looking for a refreshed look or a dramatic change in color? Do you have antique-style wood doors now but want sleek contemporary lines? Depending on your desired result, you might find that one option is better than another. Talk to a professional who can help you assess which is best for your kitchen’s style.
To sum up, refacing means replacing your old cabinet doors, drawer faces and veneer surfaces with entirely new ones, and refinishing is stripping, sanding, repainting and retouching them
When you decide which project is right for you, consider the amount of time you have to complete the project, your budget, and the effect that you want your kitchen update to have. No matter which you choose, updating your cabinets will transform the look of your kitchen.