Refacing or Replacing Your Kitchen Cabinets: Pros and Cons to Consider

Jenny Cazares | Discovery Team | Dean Cabinetry

By: Jenny Cazares

I have had many customers ask this question. We always advise budgeting for both options. We feel it is good information for the customer to be able to compare their options, and what might be best for their budget and for their family. Let’s examine a few pros and cons; these will help you decide if you should reface or replace your kitchen cabinets.

What is refacing cabinets?

Refacing could simply be just painting your existing cabinets, or replacing the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware, and covering (or finishing) the rest of your cabinets to match. 

Refacing cabinets is like painting an old used car; you can make it look pretty, but it will have the same “guts” (ie. the same drawer slides, hinges, drawer boxes, etc). Will refacing give you the interior upgrades you’re looking for, to make your driving experience more pleasurable? 

Needless to say, it may be a good option for some.

What are the pros to refacing my kitchen cabinets?

  • Might be less expensive, depending on what you choose
  • MIght have a quicker turnaround time
  • Might be a good option for a quick fix, if selling your property
  • You do not have to demo your kitchen
  • You might be able to keep your countertops

What are the cons to refacing my kitchen?

  • You may not like the finished look
  • You cannot improve the layout
  • You won’t have the chance to make your kitchen more functional
  • The price could add up quickly with hidden fees 
  • Your countertops could be damaged during refacing

Will my refacing quote include everything?

If a contractor provides a quote to only paint your cabinets, it should be pretty cut and dry. Refacing companies may not include everything you feel should be included. Before you sign a contract for refacing, review your quote thoroughly. 

Here are a few things to look for that should be on your quote for both options.

What should be on a quote for painting my cabinets?

  • Materials
  • Prepping your cabinets (i.e. sanding, priming, etc.)
  • Protecting other areas in your home from debris
  • Installing the hardware you choose
  • Clean up 
  • Tax
  • Labor
  • Warranty
  • Start and completion timeline
  • Deposit and balance amount due and when

What if I want a full refacing of my kitchen cabinets?

If you are getting a quote to reface with all new doors and drawers, make sure to ask about any hidden fees. You may receive a quote that does not include the actual color or style that you want, but rather a basic door style in a white finish. You may have smaller doors with a cabinet frame showing, and you might prefer to go with larger doors for a full overlay look that will hide more of your frame.

Some companies may include only a certain number of hinges and drawer slides, and they might not be soft close. Some may not include new drawer boxes, but only the drawer front. Be sure to express exactly what you want for your new kitchen, and be sure everything is included in the quote.  

What should my refacing quote include?

  • All materials; an exact count of every item for your kitchen
    • New door sizes (check the size as they can vary if you want full overlay)
    • Drawer fronts (and new drawer boxes, if requested)
    • New paint or laminate for cabinet boxes
    • New soft close hinges (if requested)
    • New soft-close drawer slides (if requested)
    • Trim, crown molding, light rail molding, toe kick, fillers
    • The color and material choice you selected
    • Hardware; pulls and knobs
  • All labor, including any installation fee
  • How the other areas of your home will be protected from debris
  • How the area will be cleaned up at the completion of the project
  • Disposal of old cabinet doors and drawers
  • Delivery fee
  • Tax
  • Start and completion timeline
  • Warranty for materials and adjustments needed
  • Deposit and balance amount due and when

What will my budget include if I replace my cabinets? 

Your new kitchen cabinet budget should be based on the color and style (i.e. finish selection, painted or stained wood finish) cabinetry you want, determined by the linear feet of cabinets for your kitchen. 

It is important to provide your kitchen cabinet partner with as much information as possible, prior to their budgeting for your cabinetry. Examples of this are if you would like second-tier cabinets or wall cabinets with doors with glass and finished interiors. This is very helpful for your cabinet partner to have, so they can budget your new kitchen accurately. Here are the items that should be included in your budget.

  • Pricing for stock, custom, and semi cabinets
  • Delivery fee
  • Tax
  • Installation fee
  • Lead times for cabinets
  • Warranty

The customer can then choose which budget will work best for them. Once the client has made their final selections and is happy with their design, they will receive a final quote with all their desired items included. If you are budgeting for custom cabinets, the budget should be very close to the final price, unless the customer adds additional cabinetry or additional inserts.

What are the pros if I replace my cabinets?

  • You get exactly what you want
  • You have the chance to improve your layout
  • Your kitchen might be more functional 
  • You can choose all the “bells & whistles” with inserts, rollouts, and more!
  • Increases your property value
  • You’ll have a new warranty

What are the cons of replacing my cabinets?

  • MIght be more expensive that refacing, depending on different variables
  • You may need to hire a contractor to demo and prepare the space
  • You may have to purchase new countertops if you cannot reuse your existing
  • You might have a longer lead time for delivery and installation

Take your time to weigh both options before you make a decision, never feel pressured or rushed, to decide on the best option for you and your family.