Should You Reface or Replace Cabinets When Remodeling a Kitchen?

Refacing vs. Replacing Kitchen Cabinets: Choosing the Best Option for Your Remodel

Kitchen remodeling is a big project, and one will have many decisions to make that will consequently impact the cost of the project, its duration, and the outcome. One of the most important is whether to reface or replace kitchen cabinets since this decision will directly influence how much of the budget you expend.

More importantly, it also directly influences the look and feel of the kitchen and its actual use. Therefore, with all the importance of the cabinets in a kitchen design—using up a lot of visual space and overall functionality—it becomes important to make a very informed choice.

Understanding Cabinet Refacing

Refacing, on the other hand, is the replacement of the surface exteriors of kitchen cabinets, with the cabinet boxes being left intact. As opposed to cabinet restorations, which are the removal and replacement of the whole cabinet.

It typically involves the long-overdue replacement of old doors and drawer fronts with new ones while similar veneering work is applied to the existing frames. It’s a nice idea when your cabinet structure is strong but the look is old and unattractive.

The Refacing Process

Refacing your kitchen cabinets usually follows these steps:

  1. Removing Old Doors and Drawers: The first step involves taking off the existing doors, drawer fronts, and hardware.
  2. Preparing the Cabinet Boxes: Technicians sand and clean the cabinet boxes to prepare them for the adhesive and new veneer.
  3. Applying Veneer: The chosen veneer material is carefully measured, cut, and adhered to the cabinet boxes.
  4. Installing New Doors and Hardware: Finally, new doors, drawer fronts, and often new hardware are installed to complete the transformation.

Materials commonly used in refacing include wood veneers and laminates, each offering various colors and finishes to match any kitchen decor.

Benefits of Refacing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Cost Efficiency

Kitchen cabinet refacing is generally the less expensive option, as it requires less material and less labor than replacement. Here you may save anything between 30% and 50%, which makes it a brilliant option for people who are running on a tight budget.

Environmental Impact

Since refacing reuses the existing cabinet boxes, it generates less waste than replacing the entire cabinets. This aspect makes it an environmentally friendly choice, helping to keep perfectly usable materials out of landfills.

Time and Convenience

Generally, it takes less time to reface than it does to completely replace a cabinet. In general, a remodeling project is completed within 2-4 days, which offers less intrusion in everyday life and, as such, is good news for very busy households.


Although somewhat more limiting than new cabinets, refacing provides many choices for individual tastes. Homeowners can select from numerous styles, colors, and finishes that lend themselves to a rejuvenated look in a kitchen.

Cons of Refacing

Design Limitations

Refacing does not address functional design flaws in the kitchen layout. If the current layout is not functional, refacing may be aesthetically pleasing but ultimately unsatisfactory in improving kitchen usability.

Dependence on Existing Structure

Refacing very much depends on a quite good condition of the cabinet boxes that are already there. If those are not in tip-top shape, with damage from water or structural faults, or it’s severely worn out, then refacing might not be a very good idea at all.

Understanding Cabinet Replacement

Cabinet replacement involves completely removing old cabinets and installing new ones. This option is ideal for kitchens needing significant updates in layout, style, or functionality.

The Replacement Process

Replacing kitchen cabinets is more involved and usually includes:

  1. Demolition: Removing existing cabinets, which might involve significant labor and temporarily render the kitchen unusable.
  2. Design and Customization: Selecting new cabinet designs that can completely transform the kitchen’s layout and functionality.
  3. Installation: Installing new cabinets, which can include additional features like modern organizers or built-in appliances.

Benefits of Replacing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Complete Customization

Replacement allows for total customization of the kitchen layout and style. Homeowners can redesign their storage solutions, choose from a wide range of materials, and integrate the latest innovations in cabinetry.

Increased Home Value

New cabinets will considerably raise the value of your house, especially when it improves the performance of the kitchen in general appearance. This can be very helpful, particularly if you wish to sell the house.

Cons of Replacing

Higher Costs

Replacing kitchen cabinets is usually more expensive than refacing. It involves more extensive labor, materials, and potentially the costs of new countertops, appliances, and flooring adjustments.

Longer Project Duration

The process can take several weeks to complete, during which time the kitchen may be partly or fully unusable. This can be a significant inconvenience for the household.

How to Decide Which Option is Best for You

Assess the Cabinet Condition

Refacing could be a cost-effective way and green solution in case the structure of your cabinets is good. If not possible and they show too much wear or damage, new cabinets have to be installed.

Take Your Budget

Replacing is more affordable and can be a good idea for your project if you are a bit hard up. If budget is not so much of a concern, and you want such a big change, well then replacement is the way to go.

Evaluate Your Kitchen Layout

If you are happy with the current layout, then refacing is probably for you. Not satisfied with the layout? During the installation of new cabinets, one does achieve a completely new layout: more functional, and more enjoyable to cook up a storm or just bake cookies.

Real-Life Homeowner Experiences

Both refacing and replacing of the kitchen cabinets sound very positive in customer experience: for instance, those who did refacing mostly mentioned the quick turnaround and savings, while those who did replacement, talked about an extension in kitchen functionality and design features.


Based on the state of your cabinets, your budget, and your satisfaction with the present layout of your kitchen, refacing or replacing your kitchen cabinets will guide you through making a decision. Make sure that these four factors are well-thought-out and that you choose the one that fits your demands for a kitchen you will enjoy over time.


How do I know if my cabinets are suitable for refacing?

The structure must be checked to find out whether your cabinets are suitable for refacing. Cabinets suitable for refacing would need to have strong frames, without major damage in the form of water or mold, or huge parts that appear to sag or are broken. If the basic structure is solid, particularly in the cabinet boxes, then refacing can be considered.

Can I change the layout of my cabinets if I choose to reface them?

No, you are not able to change the layout when you reface your cabinets. What you replace in a refacing is your doors and drawer fronts, your hardware, and you put a new veneer on your existing cabinet boxes. If the layout in your kitchen needs to be changed, then the cabinets may need to be replaced.

How much does it cost to reface cabinets?

Refacing kitchen cabinets can set you back from as low as $4,000 to even as much as $9,000. This price can vary widely depending on your locale, kitchen size, and materials selected for refacing. In general, though, refacing kitchen cabinets budgets from $15,000 to $30,000 or more if you are to replace all the cabinetry.

Can I reface the cabinets myself or should I hire a professional?

Some do-it-yourself homeowners may be comfortable carrying the refacing themselves, but for a majority, hiring out a professional is the best option. This is because refacing involves a significant amount of measurement, cutting, and finishing so that the new materials fit correctly and will last long.

In addition, professionals will have all the AT tools and necessary expertise to deal with unforeseen difficulties that might pop up during the job.

Replacing vs Refacing – Which option is better for increasing the value of my home?

Average returns on investment are substantially improved when kitchen cabinets are replaced in total, particularly with enhancements in the layout and functionality of the kitchen or an investment in premium quality materials.

Replacements of cabinets tend to do more for the overall appeal of a kitchen than refacing usually achieves, but consider the prospect: you love your existing arrangement because it is still more or less serving your needs. With that in mind, however, a refaced arrangement can significantly improve the appeal of the kitchen to prospective buyers.

Is cabinet refacing worth it?

Cabinet refacing is worth considering if:

  • Your cabinet boxes are in good condition.
  • You are satisfied with the current layout of your kitchen.
  • You want to update the look of your kitchen without the extensive cost, time, and inconvenience associated with replacing the cabinets.
  • You are looking for a less wasteful alternative to a full cabinet replacement.