Refacing vs. Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

Looking to give your kitchen a brand new look, but not interested in paying for a whole wall of new cabinetry? At Kitchen Land we offer several services to give your kitchen brand new look. Those methods include refacing, refinishing and remodeling (brand new design and cabinetry). Our customers often ask us, what is the difference between refacing, refinishing and remodelling?

Refinishing means that you keep all components of your existing cabinetry and simply change the color or finish. This is done through hand sanding or chemically stripping the existing finish from the wood, then applying a new paint or stain. (Note: refinishing only works on wood cabinets.)

Refacing means that you keep your cabinet boxes, but replace all your cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones. This method allows you to change the door style, as well as its color. You can also replace cabinet side panels, face frames and moldings so that everything matches.

Some homeowners have a third option, wood restoration, but that works only on stained wood cabinets. White cabinets, however, are painted wood or else MDF or particleboard with a laminate or resilient vinyl surface (typically called thermo foil) – so restoration is out for you.

Refinishing also is out of a question, if your cabinets are laminate or thermo foil. These materials can’t be sanded or stripped, and it’s nearly impossible for paint to stick to it. In addition, water damage to a laminate door cannot be repaired as it can with a wood door.

If you have wood cabinets, and you’re still torn between refacing and refinishing, consider door style, kitchen layout and budget. If you hate your door style, why refinish them? Likewise, if you don’t like your kitchen’s configuration and want to add an island or other cabinetry, don’t refinish – it will be very difficult to match to new cabinetry, unless you paint instead of stain.

However, if budget is your top priority, refinishing is the cheaper option. On average refinishing your cabinets will cost about 60 percent of the cost of refacing, while refacing will cost about 70 to 80 percent of the cost of installing good quality replacement cabinets. Exact numbers depend on job size, door style and finish, regional labor costs and taxes, and many other factors.

These estimates assume that you hire a professional contractor to do the work. If you prefer to save money by doing the work yourself, don’t forget to add in the cost of buying the required tools for the job. Refinishing is more in demand than refacing, although neither are easy jobs for do-it-yourself.