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Refacing vs Replacing Cabinets: How to Decide

Your kitchen cabinets are looking a bit worse for wear, but you’re not sure whether it makes more sense to freshen them up or find something new. Here’s a breakdown on key factors to help you decide between refacing vs replacing cabinets.

Before we dive right into the pros and cons of each option, let’s define what they are.

Cabinet refacing

Refacing, or resurfacing as it’s also called, involves installing new laminate or veneer surface material to the existing cabinet framework (boxes), then replacing the cabinet fronts and drawers. Related items like cabinet hardware are also usually replaced.

Cabinet replacing

Replacing your cabinets is exactly what it sounds like. All of your existing cabinets are removed, then new ones are hung, along with new doors and hardware. This is usually done by professional installers, as the measuring and leveling components can be complex.

refacing vs replacing cabinets: large gray kitchen cabinets

A note about Refinishing

A third cabinet updating option is refinishing, where all of the cabinet components are retained, but you update the look/color of them. This is done by first sanding or stripping the existing finish, then applying new stain or paint. This can be a budget-friendly option if your cabinets are in relatively good shape. But for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on refacing vs replacing.

When does it make sense to reface vs replace my cabinets?

Cabinet Refacing

Deciding between these two options often comes down to how much you like the footprint of your current kitchen. If you’re happy with the current layout, but your cabinets are suffering from some wear and tear, then refacing may be the best option.

Refacing may also make sense if your cabinet boxes are in solid shape, and the doors and drawers are primarily in need of a makeover.

Lastly, if your budget is tight, refacing may be the option that makes the most financial sense.

Cabinet Replacing

If you’re planning a full kitchen remodel with a layout change, or doing a kitchen addition, cabinet replacement is the best option, for a few reasons. First, when demoing an existing kitchen space — including popping out countertops and backsplashes — it may be impossible to prevent damage to the cabinets, so replacement may be your only choice.

Also, chances are the look of your new space will be different than it did when your original cabinets were installed. So replacing them may be the wise choice in order to achieve a cohesive style.

refacing vs replacing cabinets: kitchen cabinet inserts

Plus, when you replace your cabinets you can take advantage of features your older ones may not have had, like soft touch closing, more divider options, and more contemporary door styles.


Cabinet refacing

For a more simple remodel, refacing cabinets will likely run you somewhere in the $15,000-$20,000 range for a 15×15-foot kitchen. If your space is smaller or you simply have fewer cabinets, your costs will go down. But on average, refacing costs about a third to half as much as replacing cabinets.

Cabinet replacing

When it comes to a kitchen remodel, new cabinets can often take a big bite out of the budget, sometimes as much as 20-25% of the total cost. That can translate to upwards of $35,000 for a $165,000 kitchen.

Cabinet quality can play into your overall cost, with higher end products that offer more color and customization options driving up the budget a bit more. But as we mentioned above, if you’re doing a full kitchen remodel, it likely makes sense to build this in to your project scope in order to create the space that best meets your needs.

Here are some popular cabinet manufacturers listed in our good-better-best model:

Good: Yorktowne classic, Fabuwood

Better: Yorktowne Iconic, Crystal Current

Best: Crystal Keyline

Bottom line

Sherwood Kitchen Remodel

Though deciding between refacing vs replacing cabinets can sometimes be budget-driven, don’t forget to keep the bigger picture in mind, especially if you’re doing a major kitchen remodel or addition. In those cases, replacing your cabinets will likely make more sense than trying to reface what you already have.

If your cabinet boxes are in relatively good shape and you aren’t planning a large kitchen overhaul, then refacing may be the right choice.

Are you thinking about doing a kitchen remodel and aren’t sure where to start? We’re happy to discuss your project. Simply schedule a conversation with us!

Related Links

For more information and inspiration for your next kitchen remodel, check out the links below: