Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Pricing your cabinet refacing or refinishing project

by Karl Fendelander
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

Being able to get a rough idea of how much a home improvement project might cost is a vital step in prioritizing and budgeting. To get the best, most accurate cost estimate, bringing in a contractor to check things out and give you a bid is definitely the way to go, but what if you aren't quite to that stage?

You can get a very rough cost estimate for refinishing, refacing or replacing kitchen cabinets quickly with a tape measure and some basic figures. Here's how to get started:

  1. Measure. An average kitchen comes in at about 200 square feet and has around 30 linear feet of cabinetry. To find out the linear footage of your cabinetry, measure along the face of your cupboards, both the base-mounted cabinets and drawers and the wall-mounted cabinets and shelves. You should also measure the square footage of all the facing wood--anything visible that you'd like refaced or painted.
  2. Consider your options. Once you've got your rough linear and square foot measurements, you can start considering your options. A typical quote from a contractor is $130 to $200 per linear foot of cabinetry plus the cost of materials. Wood veneer can cost anywhere from $1 per square foot for the lowest-end domestic woods all the way up to $8 for exotic, imported species. Painting cabinets usually comes in at around $200 for an average kitchen. If you're going to do it yourself, be sure to factor in your time and tool rental or purchase.
  3. Add on the extras. If you're replacing the drawer pulls and door handles as well, don't forget to add them in to your estimate. Hardware--knobs with or without backplates, handles and hinges--can run anywhere from $1 per piece to more than $100 per piece, so be sure to check out some options first. For a mid-range project, estimating $5 for each handle, pull and hinge should get you close. Other extra costs could come from any repairs that need to be done or any DIY mistakes that need to be fixed.
  4. Do the math. Multiply the linear cabinet footage by $130 and $200 and use this as your pre-materials price range. A contractor may include materials when giving you a quote, so be sure to ask. For laminate refacing, an average kitchen costs around $1,000 to $3,000. Real wood veneer runs anywhere between $2,500 and $6,500, going all the way up to $7,000 to $9,000 for nicer hardwoods.

Overall, when you consider that replacing your cabinets can cost roughly twice of what a professional refacing does, refacing starts to make a lot of sense. Talk to a contractor about getting some real numbers, and don't be afraid to shop around.

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