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

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There comes a time when homeowners can choose to update their kitchen cabinets while renovating. In this regard, they will have three options– to reface, refinish, or replace the cabinet entirely. However, they may not know which one is best for their space or need.

In what situation a kitchen cabinet should be replaced? When is a refinish or reface more suitable?

At PA Kitchen, we are here to help you and your clients decide on the best option to update their kitchen cabinets. Let us take a deep dive into updating kitchen cabinets for the best results.

1. What is Cabinet Refacing?


Kitchen cabinet refacing is a type of renovation that focuses on the cabinets’ exterior.

Some people might be familiar with the term cabinet resurfacing, which is the same as cabinet refacing. Technically speaking, refacing kitchen cabinets involve updating a kitchen cabinet’s face, or the exterior parts such as the drawers and the doors.

All the cabinets’ doors and drawers will be replaced with new material, but the structure largely remains the same. It’s also worth noting that its location will stay where it was originally, including the box.

As for the inside, contractors and remodelers will make the interior appear the same. More often than not, a new veneer is applied to the sides and front to transform it into a new-like state. It’s also a good idea to match the hardware colors, or add new hinges or handles to boost its aesthetic effect.

Resurfacing involves changing the cabinet surface with wood or laminate veneer, usually the color of the rest of the kitchen to give it that themed look.

Refacing is a cost-effective solution for those who want to cover up their cabinets’ finish problems and blemishes. At the same time, homeowners can update the color and style for a clean and seamless kitchen look. Crown molding and decorated hardware can be installed depending on the kitchen owner’s preference.

2. How Cabinet Refacing Works

Cabinet refacing is simpler compared to cabinet replacement and requires less time.

First, the drawers, fronts, and doors are removed from the main box structure, including the hinges and pulls or handles. Each front-facing material is covered with the desired laminate, RTF or Rigid Thermo Foil, or wood veneer. The sides of the cabinet will be treated the same way and with the same veneer material.

The kitchen owner can choose to install new hinges at this point or continue with the old ones. Work continues, and the new drawers and doors are put back into their respective places. Customization options, e.g., fixture details and new pulls or handles come into play next.

Accessories such as custom crown moldings or lighting may be added in to complete the look.

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.

Stuck Doors and Drawers

While not entirely a game-breaking issue, having drawers and doors getting stuck from time to time can get really annoying. The experience ranges from sticking to the frame, getting stuck while opening or closing, and non-alignment.

In a reface process, the contractor will usually replace old cabinet hardware systems with new ones. In several instances, they can replace it with new soft-close solutions to reduce noise along with smoother operation.

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

The kitchen is usually the first room in the house to get dirty and grimy, with all that cooking and use. Spills, stains, and steam can create soiled surfaces, mold problems, and grime, just to name a few.

A reface is a viable solution to refresh the kitchen cabinet and make it look great again.

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?


Kitchen cabinet refinishing is a type of renovation that focuses on a cabinet’s appearance.

In a cabinet refinish, there’s little work involved on the cabinet itself. Basically speaking, you change the ‘finish’, which usually means giving the cabinet a fresh coat of paint or stain, depending on the homeowner’s wishes.

Along the way, the original drawers and doors stay the same. The process is even shorter than a cabinet reface in terms of project length. However, it’s worth noting that not all kitchen cabinets can be refinished.

Only wooden cabinets are eligible for a kitchen cabinet refinish, as there’s paint stripping, then sanding, and painting or staining involved. Unfortunately, Thermo Foil and laminate-type cabinets may not be refinished because there’s no way to strip the color. More importantly, the cabinet itself should be in good condition or the dents and imperfections will show, even with a new look.

Refinishing kitchen cabinets is the cheapest and quickest update out of all the three options. Homeowners can pick the color and finish they want to match their kitchen theme and design, including lacquer, varnish, melamine, glaze, and natural, just to name a few.

Homeowners who are satisfied with their cabinets’ placement, orientation, and condition can opt for a refinish and update its appearance. The structure must be strong enough to survive the paint-stripping and sanding process for the best results.

6. Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing Options


Restaining kitchen cabinets can highlight the natural grain and enrich its features. Staining is largely limited to cabinets that are made from natural wood. Preparation is the key to a proper stain procedure– it’s important to sand off old finishes and paint thoroughly before applying the staining solution.

Stained kitchen cabinets 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.


A kitchen cabinet glaze is in essence a top coat that adds to the cabinets’ existing paint or stain. This process serves to highlight the features of the cabinet, particularly in raised panels and shaker-style doors.

Homeowners can choose to have an accent glaze, which creates a contrast along the lines and corners. Or, they can have glazing applied to the whole kitchen cabinet for an enhanced 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.

However, this will hide defining markings and grain. This might be okay with some people but not others, and it helps to lay out expectations before you proceed.

Painting gives homeowners the freedom to choose the color they want, regardless of how uncommon it is. However, paint tends to peel and crack as time goes by, which means that there will be a need to update the cabinets again.

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.

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?

The best way to determine if a kitchen cabinet replacement is better than a refinish or reface is to check the integrity of the cabinet.

Replacing the kitchen cabinet makes more sense if the homeowner will have to pay more to have it refinished or refaced. The process is straightforward- the whole kitchen cabinet is manually removed, and a new one is installed in its place.

Replacing kitchen cabinets on a budget only applies if the cost is lower than having to refinish a water-damaged cabinet, for example. A cabinet replacement is a viable choice for homeowners who are completely redesigning their kitchen space or when there’s irreparable damage.

Cabinet layout and location also play a huge role in determining if there’s a need for a complete replacement. Homeowners who find it difficult to find something they need while cooking can consider replacing and relocating their kitchen cabinets. It’s a great solution as well for those who are thinking of a completely new kitchen layout.

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 will not improve a badly-designed kitchen cabinet or one that’s inferior in quality or materials.

Low-cost kitchen makeovers or builds might end up costing homeowners more as time goes by. In cabinets, it’s important that the storage can hold up to the weight and that its structural integrity is sound.

A quick inspection will reveal if drilling is not possible and if reinforcing won’t contribute to the cause. Once the costs outweigh the price of undergoing a kitchen cabinet replacement, then it’s obvious 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 can choose from a dozen or so kitchen cabinet manufacturers to work with. It’s not something to consider lightly though, because the overall success depends on the company’s ability to deliver high-quality products that meet their client’s needs.

Nowadays, you can turn to the World Wide Web for sourcing custom-made cabinets. Buying them online from a reputable cabinet brand guarantees that the final product will be exactly according to specifications. You can choose to have it delivered straight to the site for convenience.

The PA Kitchen team is committed to excellence when it comes to presenting professional solutions and reducing site difficulties in cabinet assembly. We can accommodate both small and large projects alike and provide full support for efficient resolution.

When you buy kitchen cabinets you’ll want them ready for installation as quickly as possible. The advantages of buying the kitchen cabinet you need for a project online can give you an edge, and with the help of the PA Kitchen team, you can expect the timeline to be followed accordingly.

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


We at PA Kitchen are dedicated to serving our customers to the best of our abilities. We provide a high level of quality and efficiency as soon as you request a custom kitchen cabinet, quote or estimate from our production team.

We understand that there’s no room for error in kitchen cabinet projects, which is why we have a streamlined service to be as precise as possible. Our capable team can provide appropriate solutions as we gain a deep understanding of our customer’s vision. To reduce time and costs, our professional staff will take a close look at requests to have a deep understanding of the project concepts. We can provide 3D rendering and 2D drawing as needed to bring your designs to life.

Furthermore, we can collaborate with customers in checking for possible problems and come up with smart solutions and adjustments. Mock-ups and assembling can be done before manufacturing starts.

PA Kitchen is the leading kitchen cabinet manufacturer for a reason– we use the latest technology and breakthrough innovation to create high-quality products at low prices. We beat our competitors with the automated, intelligent production of custom-made house furniture, all crafted and inspected by highly-skilled masters of the trade. High standards ensure every order we ship out is the right style, dimension, and material.

We can provide precise cost estimation and work closely with you through real-time responses, as well as ensure that your order is made exactly how you want them.

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2 Responses

  1. I love that you talked that knowing your options could help you gather ideas for your kitchen cabinets. My sister mentioned yesterday that she was planning to have a kitchen cabinet refacing to make the most out of their kitchen space without expensive costs. She asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to consider. I’m glad about this helpful article. I’ll tell her it will be much better if she consults a trusted kitchen cabinet refacing service for more information about the process.

  2. I’m really glad you said that cabinet refinishing can match the new design of your kitchen! My sister was at my house last night for dinner, and she talked about how she feels like her kitchen has a very outdated look to it, so she was wondering what she should change so that it can look more up-to-date. I’ll pass this information along to her so she can look into hiring cabinet refinishing services!

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