Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Expensive kitchen cabinets: price can outweigh ROI

by Shannon Lee
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

When you start to think about replacing kitchen cabinets, price is likely a top consideration. Though it might be tempting to simply yank out and replace those kitchen cabinets with something new, a tight budget often becomes a stumbling block. Resurfacing your kitchen cabinets can make a big difference, both in the look of your kitchen and in your bottom line.

Kitchen cabinets: price for replacement vs. refacing

Resurfacing your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them is a cost-effective option. When you replace kitchen cabinets, expect to remove all the cabinet boxes, including those underneath your countertop. If you replace them with stock cabinets, expect to pay between $4,000 and $5,000 to complete a 10-by-12 kitchen. If you want something other than a model straight off the showroom floor, semi-custom cabinets can cost between $8,000 and $10,000. Custom cabinets, built to your exact design specifications, can cost between $16,000 and $20,000 or more. Keep in mind that these estimates do not include installation or countertop cost.

If you choose to keep the cabinet boxes and simply replace the doors and drawer fronts, the cost drops considerably. Using plastic laminate or rigid thermofoil can cost between $1,000 and $3,000. Real wood veneer can run between $2,500 and $6,000, while high-quality woods can cost between $7,000 to $9,000 or more.

If that is still too rich for your budget, there are other options, such a painting the kitchen cabinets or using a self-adhesive veneer. These do-it-yourself projects can be completed for only the cost of materials, and can run less than $1,000 for the full job.

What about resale value?

There's more good news about resurfacing kitchen cabinets. Remodeling Magazine's Cost vs Value Report for 2010-2011 estimates a minor kitchen remodel can recoup 72.8 percent of investment. However, going for a major kitchen remodel, including replacement of the kitchen cabinets, recoups only 68.7 percent. In fact, the more expensive you go, the less you might get back; a major, upscale kitchen remodel with top-of-the-line everything might only recoup 59.7 percent of the initial investment when it is time to sell the home.

Replacing kitchen cabinets is a convenient way to get a new look at a much lower cost. As long as the cabinet boxes are in good shape, simply refacing the doors can make it seem like you spent thousands of dollars on a brand-new kitchen. A good contractor can finish the work within a few days, which means little downtime and the chance to enjoy your new kitchen even sooner.

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