Face Your Kitchen
Your Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Refacing kitchen cabinets: is it your best option?

by Jeffrey Anderson
Face Your Kitchen Columnist

There are many decisions that must be made when planning a kitchen remodel, but perhaps the one that most affects the cost of the project is what to do about the kitchen cabinets. If the interiors of the existing cabinets are in good shape and the overall layout isn't being changed, refacing is often considered to be the least expensive option. So, just how much can you save by refacing kitchen cabinets rather than buying new?

Refacing kitchen cabinets vs. buying new

One very important thing to remember when pricing various cabinet options is that there are many variables involved that may affect the total cost. Installing new cabinets often requires unhooking plumbing, disconnecting appliances, and removing the countertops--all of which can normally be avoided when you do cabinet resurfacing.

But how about the cabinets themselves; how much do the prices vary between refacing and buying new? One of the most common cabinets used in a kitchen is a 36-inch, double-door base that has one or two drawers at the top and double doors below. Here are some very approximate costs for buying this cabinet new and how they compare to cabinet resurfacing the 36-inch base unit you already have:

  1. Custom cabinets. Custom is when a trim carpenter has the cabinets built to your specifications in a specialty millwork shop. The cabinets are built specifically for your kitchen and usually fall into the same category as planes and yachts. If you have to ask the price, you probably can't afford them.
  2. Semi-custom cabinets. These are the higher-end model lines from companies such as KraftMaid and Yorktowne Cabinetry: The boxes are solid wood and finish options are numerous. Expect to pay about $390 for an oak, 36-inch, double-door, semi-custom base cabinet at Lowes.
  3. Stock cabinets. These are also called builder's grade as they're often found in entry and mid-level homes. They may have particle-board side and rear panels with an applied, wood veneer and a solid wood face. A stock, 36-inch, oak base cabinet can be purchased for about $218 from Lowes.
  4. Ready-to-assemble cabinets. These are often high-quality, but are shipped in pieces and must be put together on the jobsite. Expect to pay about $126 for an oak, 36-inch, double-door RTA cabinet.

The materials for refacing that 36-inch base cabinet along with new solid oak doors and drawer fronts can be purchased for about $266, and you shouldn't have to unhook an appliance, remove any cabinets, or take off that delicate countertop.

About the Author

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I., and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time. He spends his time writing, remodeling his old farmhouse, and in animal rescue.

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