Do You Reface or Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets for a New Look? 

Many homeowners are considering a new look for their kitchen cabinets. Typically there are two main options to consider: refacing or replacing. Cabinet refacing involves taking off the existing doors and drawer fronts and replacing them with new doors, drawer fronts, and hardware. Cabinet replacement is the complete removal of your kitchen cabinets, countertops, and flooring to installing brand new cabinetry, countertop, and flooring. Cabinet refacing often costs less, takes less time, and is a less invasive process than cabinet replacement, but it doesn’t always solve the problem.

Cabinet Refacing

If you like your cabinet door’s style, it may be possible to change the finish with paint or stain. Depending on the material, this is not always possible. For cabinets that can’t be painted, some homeowners add veneers to change the look. Others decide to reface the cabinets with new doors.

Cabinet Boxes and Trim

When you reface kitchen cabinets, the cabinet boxes and frames remain to keep your cabinetry’s kitchen layout and size the same. If the cabinet boxes are in good condition, this is an option.

Most cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and openings are a standard size. Finding standard replacements is easier than on older or custom cabinets. Refacing custom cabinets or those with non-standard sizes will cost more as you may need them custom made.

Measuring

When shopping for new cabinets, accurate measurements of doors, and drawer fronts, are extremely important, especially if you’re purchasing from an online cabinet wholesaler. You can provide your cabinet company with an old door and drawer front to match the size and minimize error.

Hardware

When you reface kitchen cabinets, you often buy new hardware. You should coordinate your choice of pulls or knobs with the hinges of your cabinet doors. Remember that, because re-hanging cabinet doors can be tricky, the smart move is to use adjustable hinges, which allow for adjustments and fine-tuning to be done with a screwdriver.

When cabinet refacing doesn’t make sense

It’s not uncommon for people to start refacing or resurfacing their cabinets only to realize it costs more than they expected. Many homeowners get more than halfway through the project and start wishing they had replaced the cabinets instead.

If you do not like the current layout of your cabinets, for example, then refacing won’t change that. A new look will not alter the functionality or efficiency of your cabinets. If your cabinets are poorly constructed or compromised, paying to reface them would be a waste of money.

Cabinet replacement

Cabinet replacement opens up the possibility of changing the layout and functionality of your kitchen. You could always swap new cabinets into the space left by the old set. But homeowners who choose replacement want their cabinets to reflect their style and improve the kitchen’s storage and function.

Renovating kitchen cabinets can often lead to new countertop, flooring, and appliances. Because kitchen cabinets last between 20-30 years, sometimes up to 50, you’ll want to consider any other replacements you need to make around the same time. Homeowners don’t make a habit of renovating their kitchen every year when a new appliance is purchased.

According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, the following kitchen appliances last on average:

  • Sink: 5-10 years
  • Faucet: 15 years
  • Dishwasher: 9 years,
  • Cabinets: 50 years
  • Range, gas: 15 years
  • Refrigerator: 13 years
  • Countertops made of natural stone: lifetime
  • Countertops made of marble: 20 years

If you are leaning toward a kitchen remodeling project that involves cabinet replacement, here are a few signs that might help you decide if your cabinets need to be replaced and not refaced.

5 Signs Your Cabinets Need To Be Replaced

1) Cabinets are not functional

If your cabinets’ overall function does not work for you, for example, not enough storage, the layout is not sufficient for prep, cooking, or cleaning, this is another sign that you may want to replace instead of repair. 

Signs the design of your cabinets could benefit from replacement:

  • Cabinets open up all wrong. For instance, if you open two cabinet doors at once and they slam into one another.
  • Cabinets are hard to access and require removing items to reach other items tucked in the back.
  • Drawers do not open without getting stuck or are making an odd sound is a sign of damage beneath the drawer.

2) Water damage

Are your cabinets showing dark color spots, swollen, or not correctly closing? You may have water damage. Here are signs of more severe water damage if the:

  • Cabinets show signs of mold.
  • Wood has started to warp.
  • Outsides are delaminating.
  • Cabinets are bubbling up on the outside or inside.
  • Wood has started to change colors or blacken.
  • Cabinets do not open or close properly.

By finding the water, stopping the leak, and drying the wood, you might be able to repair the cabinets. Before starting a repair, you want to be that the repair will fix your cabinets.

3) Cabinets are soft 

If the sides of your cabinet feel soft when pushing on them, this is a sign that they are damaged and may start to fall apart. The sides of your cabinets are essential for the structural integrity of your cabinets. If they are not in good condition, there is no point in wasting money on refacing them.

4) Cabinets are moldy 

Mold can compromise the general integrity of your cabinets, but large quantities of mold can also affect your health. A water leak usually causes mold. Stop the water first and decide if you can repair or replace your cabinet.

5) Cabinet box is in bad shape

If the cabinet box is too worn out for you to drill new holes or mount new hinges, the cabinet box structure will not be sound enough to support new cabinet doors. A replacement will save you money in the long run.

To get some expert advice on whether or not you could reface your kitchen cabinets or consider replacement, visit with our certified cabinet designers. They can help walk through the functionality of your kitchen and give you the information you need to make the best decision.