Guide to Updating Kitchen Cabinets: Reface, Refinish, or Replace?

Guide to Updating Kitchen Cabinets: Reface, Refinish, or Replace?

If you’re looking for a way to give your kitchen a fresh and updated look, you might be wondering whether you should reface, refinish, or replace your kitchen cabinets. Each option has its pros and cons, depending on your budget, preferences, and the condition of your existing cabinets. In this article, we’ll explain what each option entails, how much it costs, and how it can transform your kitchen. We’ll also give you some tips on how to optimize your kitchen cabinets reface project for 2023.

1. What is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing?


Refacing kitchen cabinets is a process that involves covering the existing cabinet frames with new veneer, and replacing the doors, drawer fronts, and hardware with new ones that match the veneer. Refacing kitchen cabinets can change the style, color, and appearance of your cabinets without changing their layout or structure.

If you prefer your kitchen’s current layout and your cabinet boxes are in good condition, refacing the cabinets is an excellent choice to give them a fresh update. Not only does it offer a cost-effective solution, but it also saves time compared to replacing them entirely. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of refacing kitchen cabinets ranges from $4,000 to $9,000, depending on your kitchen’s size and the chosen materials. Unlike replacement, refacing can be completed within a few days rather than enduring weeks of renovation.

Refacing kitchen cabinets can also give you more options to customize your cabinets. You can choose from a variety of wood species, colors, finishes, styles, and hardware for your new doors and drawer fronts. You can also add features like crown molding, glass inserts, soft-close hinges, pull-out shelves, and more to enhance the functionality and aesthetics of your cabinets.

How to Reface Kitchen Cabinets

Refacing kitchen cabinets is a project that requires some skill and attention to detail, but it can be done by yourself if you have the right tools and materials. Here are the basic steps to reface kitchen cabinets:

  1. Remove all the contents of your drawers and cabinets. This is a good time to get rid of any clutter.
  2. Remove all cabinet doors, drawers and drawer fronts. Remove all the hardware from the cabinets and drawer pulls from the drawers.
  3. Clean the sides and faces of the cabinets and drawers with a degreaser and a sponge. Make sure they are dry before proceeding.
  4. Measure the cabinet frames and cut strips of self-adhesive wood veneer or laminate to fit them. You can use a laminate slitter, a table saw, or a paper cutter to cut the veneer.
  5. Apply the veneer to the cabinet frames by peeling off the backing paper and pressing it firmly onto the surface. Use a veneer tool or a roller to smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles.
  6. Trim any excess veneer with a utility knife or a file.
  7. Measure and order new doors and drawer fronts from a reputable supplier. You can choose from ready-made or custom-made options in various styles, colors, and materials.
  8. Install new hinges on the cabinet frames and new doors. You can use cup hinges that are easy to adjust and install.
  9. Install new drawer slides on the cabinet frames and new drawer fronts on the drawers.
  10. Install new hardware on the doors and drawers, such as knobs, pulls, handles, etc.
  11. Add any finishing touches like molding, lighting, or accessories.

2. The Refacing Process

Kitchen cabinets reface is a multi-step process that begins with the careful measurement and assessment of your existing cabinets. This is done to ensure that the new doors and drawer fronts fit perfectly. Once the old fronts have been removed, the cabinet boxes are prepared for veneer application.

The next stage involves applying the veneer to the cabinet boxes, which provides a matching appearance with the new fronts. Once this is done, the new doors and drawer fronts are installed, complete with new handles and knobs. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a week, depending on the size of your kitchen.

The Advantages of Refacing

One significant benefit of kitchen cabinets reface is its cost-effectiveness. Refacing often costs less than replacing your cabinets, making it a viable option for homeowners on a budget. It’s also less disruptive, as it allows you to use your kitchen during the renovation process. If you’re looking for a fresh look without the hefty price tag, refacing may be the way to go.

3. Signs You May Need to Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets

Outdated Design


Refacing a kitchen cabinet is an excellent option for those who are in the midst of a kitchen remodel or renovation. Instead of the cabinet sticking out like a sore thumb, it’s treated with a quick makeover so it matches the new theme or design.

Cabinet refacing can be cheaper than a full cabinet replacement and requires less effort for the contractor or remodeler.

Visible Wear and Tear

Over time, daily use can take a toll on your kitchen cabinets reface. You might start noticing chips, cracks, fading, or discoloration. The doors may not close properly, or the drawers might get stuck. If your cabinets are structurally sound but have cosmetic damages, refacing is an excellent way to restore their appearance.

Unhappy with the Current Look

Sometimes, you might simply grow tired of the way your cabinets look. If you’re not happy with the color, design, or hardware, refacing can offer a cost-effective solution. With refacing, you can change the cabinet doors and drawer fronts to a style that you prefer, aligning with your current taste and the overall design theme of your home.

More Storage Needed

A homeowner’s kitchen cabinet needs can change, especially once they turn into a large family. They might find the current cabinet space is inadequate and want roomier options.

A good old cabinet refacing can introduce measures that are more effective in the terms of storage. Minor alterations and value updates can be done without incurring massive labor or changes. In some cases, custom woodwork can give homeowners the space they need for their kitchen items.

Old and Worn Kitchen Cabinet Appearance

If your kitchen cabinets are starting to look dated and are detracting from the overall aesthetic of your kitchen, it may be time to consider refacing. Trends in kitchen designs change over time, and while your cabinets may have been stylish a decade ago, they may now appear old-fashioned. Refacing allows you to update the look of your cabinets to match more contemporary styles without having to replace them entirely.

Remember, refacing is an excellent option when your cabinets are structurally sound, and only the external appearance needs an upgrade. However, if there are structural issues with the cabinets, it may be best to consider replacement.

4. Pros and Cons of Cabinet Refacing


  • Lesser time commitment and cost
  • Eco-friendly cabinet update solution
  • Fix stuck cabinet doors and drawers


  • Cabinet interior stays the same
  • Custom elements can really add up

5. What is Cabinet Refinishing?


The Benefits of Cabinet Refinishing

While refacing offers an excellent option, you may prefer the route of refinishing your cabinets. This method involves applying a fresh coat of paint or stain to your existing cabinets, giving them a new lease on life without altering their style or structure.

The Process of Cabinet Refinishing

In a cabinet refinish, minimal work is required on the cabinet itself. Essentially, you change the ‘finish’ by applying a fresh coat of paint or stain, depending on the homeowner’s preferences.

Throughout the process, the original drawers and doors remain unchanged. Moreover, the refinish project is even shorter in duration compared to cabinet refacing. However, it’s important to note that not all kitchen cabinets are suitable for refinishing.

Eligibility and Considerations for Cabinet Refinishing

Only wooden cabinets can undergo a kitchen cabinet refinish, as it involves paint stripping, sanding, and painting or staining. Unfortunately, Thermo Foil and laminate-type cabinets cannot be refinished due to the inability to strip the color. Furthermore, it is crucial that the cabinet itself is in good condition, as any dents or imperfections will be noticeable even with a new finish.

Cost and Customization

Refinishing kitchen cabinets is the most cost-effective and efficient option among the three. Homeowners have the freedom to choose the color and finish that best matches their kitchen theme and design, including options such as lacquer, varnish, melamine, glaze, and natural finishes.

For homeowners who are content with the placement, orientation, and condition of their kitchen cabinets, opting for a kitchen cabinet reface can be a suitable choice to update their appearance. However, it is crucial to ensure that the cabinet structure is sturdy enough to endure the paint-stripping and sanding processes, guaranteeing optimal results during the refacing process.

6. Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Options


Restaining kitchen cabinets can enhance the natural grain and beauty of the wood. This method is primarily used for cabinets made of natural wood and requires careful preparation, including thorough sanding before application.

Stained kitchen cabinets reface have a longer lifespan, and homeowners will like how it doesn’t crack or peel as easily. However, there are only a few color options, and the surface isn’t as smooth as a painted or glazed finish.


Glaze serves as a top coat that adds a level of depth and detail to the cabinets’ existing paint or stain. It can be used to emphasize the features of the cabinet, especially in styles like raised panels and shaker-style doors. Homeowners can choose from accent glaze for contrast or an all-over glaze for additional shine and texture.


Having the kitchen cabinet repainted is one of the most popular options for a refinish. Done right, the cabinet will have a smooth surface and an even color.

Painting the kitchen cabinets is a popular option that offers a smooth, even color and the freedom to pick virtually any shade. While it can hide the wood’s natural grain and markings, painting is a quick way to dramatically change the look of the kitchen. However, painted cabinets may need occasional touch-ups due to peeling or cracking over time.

7. Signs You May Need to Refinish Your Kitchen Cabinets

Outdated Look

Perhaps the most obvious sign that a kitchen cabinet needs to be refinished is if it doesn’t match the home decor. A refinish can be a part of the kitchen renovation process, especially if the homeowner wants a different look.

Peeling and Cracked Paint

Cracking and peeling means that the paint is old, and the kitchen cabinet is due a fresh coat. If the overall structure and characteristics of the cabinet are acceptable, then a quick refinish usually gets the job done.

Small Imperfections and Minor Damage

Refinishing kitchen cabinets is a suitable procedure to cover minor imperfections and damage. It’s a low-cost endeavor with the effect of having a cabinet looking good as new.


Over time, sunlight, cleaning products, and everyday use can cause your cabinets to become discolored or faded. If you notice significant color variations, it may be time to refinish your cabinets.

Difficult to Clean or Maintain

If your cabinets have become increasingly hard to clean or maintain, or if they often look grimy or dull despite regular cleaning, it could be a sign that the finish has worn off and needs to be refreshed.

Preference for a New Look

 Sometimes, you might simply desire a new aesthetic for your kitchen. If you’re not ready for a full renovation, refinishing the cabinets can offer a relatively inexpensive and quick way to change your kitchen’s overall look and feel.

8. Pros and Cons of Cabinet Refinishing


  • Even cheaper than refacing kitchen cabinets
  • Fast and easy way to freshen up
  • Offers a variety of colors and finishes


  • Tends to crack and peel over time
  • Replacement is better if the cabinet structure is compromised

9. Is It Worth to Replace My Kitchen Cabinets?

When considering whether to reface or replace your kitchen cabinets, there are several factors to take into account. These include your budget, the condition of your current cabinets, your desired outcome, and the overall functionality of your kitchen. Here are some key points to consider when evaluating if kitchen cabinet refacing is worth it for you.


Replacing kitchen cabinets can be a significant investment. It typically involves not only purchasing new cabinets but also professional installation. If your budget allows for it and you’re looking for a complete transformation or upgrading to higher-quality materials, replacing cabinets may be worth it.

Structural Integrity

Assess the structural condition of your current cabinets. If they are in poor condition, have significant damage, or are not functional, replacing them might be the best option. It ensures you have sturdy, durable cabinets that will last for years to come.

Layout and Functionality

Consider if you’re satisfied with the current layout and functionality of your kitchen. If you want to make significant changes to the cabinet configuration, such as adding more storage space or incorporating new features, replacing the cabinets allows for greater customization.

Aesthetics and Style

If you’re looking for a completely different look or if your current cabinets are outdated and don’t align with your desired kitchen style, replacing them can provide a fresh start and allow you to choose cabinets that better match your vision.

Time and Disruption

Keep in mind that replacing kitchen cabinets is a more extensive and time-consuming project compared to refinishing or refacing. It involves removing the existing cabinets, preparing the space, installing new cabinets, and potentially making adjustments to plumbing and electrical systems. Consider the inconvenience and disruption this may cause to your daily life.

Ultimately, the decision to replace your kitchen cabinets depends on your specific circumstances, preferences, and budget. If your cabinets are in good condition, but you want to update their appearance, refinishing or refacing might be a more cost-effective and less disruptive option. However, if your cabinets are in poor condition or you’re looking for a complete transformation, replacing them can provide a fresh start and create the kitchen of your dreams.

10. Signs You May Need to Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets

Extensive Structural Damage

It’s certainly more advantageous for the homeowner to get a kitchen cabinet replacement if it looks like it will fall apart any second. Obvious sagging, peeling laminates, and cabinets not opening or closing properly are obvious signs that the structure is compromised.

Dissatisfaction with the Current Kitchen Layout

Homeowners will ask for a full kitchen renovation if they want extensive work done on their space. This usually entails changing the layout to suit their current needs and involves a cabinet replacement in order to have storage where they want it.

A complete redesign isn’t out of the picture, and a new kitchen cabinet system can give them control over how many shelves they want, its configuration, and how it swings. Furthermore, they can get to choose the style and finish so it complements the rest of their kitchen.

Low-Quality Make

A kitchen reface or refinish cannot improve a badly-designed kitchen cabinet or one that is of inferior quality or made with subpar materials. Choosing low-cost kitchen makeovers or builds may end up costing homeowners more in the long run. It is crucial for cabinets to have storage capacity that can withstand weight and maintain structural integrity. A quick inspection can determine if drilling is not possible and if reinforcement will not contribute to the cause. When the costs outweigh the price of undergoing a kitchen cabinet replacement, it becomes evident that a replacement is the better choice.

Presence of Mold and Water Damage

Wood discoloration and warping are signs that the cabinet material has been damaged. Tiny holes and bore dust also indicate serious structural damage.

Extensive mold on cabinets can lead to a risk to the homeowner and their family member’s health. Cleaning mold off kitchen cabinets is a very extensive task, and in the end, a cabinet replacement could be a more viable solution.

11. Pros and Cons of Cabinet Replacement


  • Brand new kitchen cabinets
  • Freedom to change layout, design, and amount of space
  • A good solution for a complete kitchen renovation


  • Time-consuming and extensive
  • Homeowners will not be able to use their kitchens for a while

12. Where to Buy New Kitchen Cabinets


Contractors, project builders, designers, and wholesalers have numerous options when it comes to choosing a kitchen cabinet manufacturer to partner with. However, this decision should not be taken lightly, as the overall success of the project relies on the manufacturer’s ability to deliver high-quality products that align with their clients’ needs.

In today’s digital age, the World Wide Web offers a convenient avenue for sourcing custom-made cabinets. Opting to purchase cabinets online from a reputable brand ensures that the final product precisely meets the desired specifications. Additionally, the convenience of having the cabinets delivered straight to the site further enhances the buying experience.

At PA Kitchen, we prioritize excellence and professionalism in providing tailored solutions and minimizing challenges during cabinet assembly. Our team is well-equipped to handle projects of all sizes and offers comprehensive support to ensure efficient resolution.

When purchasing kitchen cabinets, timely installation is often a priority. Buying the necessary cabinets for your project online offers several advantages, and with the assistance of the PA Kitchen team, you can expect adherence to the proposed timeline.

13. PA Kitchen Is Your Go-To Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturer & Supplier


At PA Kitchen, we prioritize delivering exceptional service to our valued customers. We commit ourselves to providing top-notch quality and efficiency right from the moment you inquire about a custom kitchen cabinet quote or estimate.

We recognize the significance of precision in kitchen cabinet projects, so we have streamlined our services to minimize errors. Our skilled team invests time in fully understanding your vision, offering tailored solutions that cater to your specific needs. To optimize both time and costs, our experienced staff conducts a thorough examination of your requests, gaining a comprehensive understanding of your project’s concepts. Additionally, we offer 3D rendering and 2D drawings to bring your designs to life.

We strongly believe in the power of collaboration and highly value your input in identifying potential issues and finding intelligent solutions. Before we commence manufacturing, we provide mock-ups and assemblies for your review, ensuring your confidence in the final product.

As a leading kitchen cabinet manufacturer, PA Kitchen distinguishes itself by incorporating cutting-edge technology and innovative techniques, resulting in high-quality products at affordable prices. Our highly skilled craftsmen oversee our automated and intelligent production processes, guaranteeing that each item we ship adheres to stringent standards in terms of style, dimensions, and materials.

With our precise cost estimation and real-time communication, we foster a close working relationship with you to ensure we craft your order precisely to your specifications. Your satisfaction remains our utmost priority throughout the entire process.


Deciding whether to reface, refinish, or replace your kitchen cabinets depends on a variety of factors, including your budget, the current condition of your cabinets, and your overall vision for your kitchen. With a thorough understanding of each process, you can make an informed decision that will give your kitchen a fresh and inviting look.

Remember, kitchen cabinets reface offers a cost-effective, transformative solution, but it’s not the only choice. The end goal should be a kitchen you love and functions well for your needs. So, choose the option that best aligns with your desires, and enjoy the journey towards a refreshed kitchen.

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