Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Refacing doors or cabinet refinishing: Which is better?

by Shannon Lee
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

When remodeling a kitchen, the first changes most homeowners make are to the kitchen cabinets. Remodeling can be quite expensive, so saving money on a cabinet upgrade is usually at the top of the priority list. That's why some homeowners will opt for cabinet refinishing instead of cabinet refacing.

What is refinishing?

Kitchen cabinet refinishing is simply giving your cabinets a new look. This can be done by stripping the paint or stain and applying new colors or finishes. Refinishing can give your kitchen a fresh look while saving money, since the only cost is for supplies. If you choose to spend a bit more and hire a contractor to refinish the cabinet doors, you may still save money on materials.

How refinishing compares to cabinet refacing

Refinishing with a bright new paint and attractive hardware can make your kitchen look like new while giving your budget a break. But is the savings really worth it? Refacing doors on your kitchen cupboards can be a bit more expensive; however, the advantages are clear.

  1. A completely different look. When refinishing cabinets, you have the old look to work with. You can dress it up with a fancy stain or a nice new paint color, but in the end you have the same style and design that you started out with. If you're already tired of the cabinets, refinishing won't brighten things up for long.
  2. Sturdier cabinets. Over time, those old cabinets get worn down. The boxes collect scuffs and dents, the hinges begin to loosen and creak, and the doors might not hang properly anymore. Cleaning up the boxes and refacing the doors can put your kitchen in tip-top shape again.
  3. Longer life. Simply refinishing your cabinets does little for longevity. On the other hand, refacing cabinets with brand-new doors could mean a much longer life for your kitchen look.
  4. Good resale choice. When savvy homebuyers come calling, they might be able to tell whether the cabinets have simply been painted or whether they have been refaced--and you can bet their real estate agent will ask. Since most professionals agree that the kitchen is the biggest selling point in the home, it pays to sink your remodeling money into the cabinets.

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, remodeling with the best you can afford makes sense. If your budget is truly strapped, kitchen cabinet refinishing might be a temporary answer. However, saving the money to put toward cabinet refacing in the future could be a smarter way to approach your kitchen remodel.





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