Should I repaint, reface, or replace my kitchen cabinets?
We get it – deciding what to do with your cabinets can be a challenge during a remodel. You might want to replace your old cabinets, but why spend the money when you can repaint or reface them for less? How do you know which option will be best for your kitchen?
At Lamont Bros., our team has worked with dozens of clients working through the same questions. As a full-process design and build firm, our teams help homeowners just like you make educated decisions for their remodel design. Whether you choose to repaint, reface, or replace your cabinets, you need to be able to justify your choice.
In this article, we’ll discuss the three main options for remodeling your cabinetry. By the time you reach the end, you should have a firm understanding of why you might choose each of the three options. You can expect to read about the cost, process, pros, and cons of the three options:
Option 1: Cabinet Repainting
Plenty of homeowners want a new look for their kitchen, but don’t want to pay full price for new cabinets. Sound familiar? This is often the primary motivation to choose to repaint their cabinets rather than reface or replace them. But while the price may seem attractive, cabinet repainting does come with its risks and challenges.
Repainting cabinets is exactly what it sounds like. You keep your current cabinets exactly as they are and simply add a fresh coat of paint. The immediate result is an inexpensive, refreshing change to the visual design of your kitchen. How the repaint ages over time, however, is based on the method you use.
What’s the process for repainting cabinets?
When repainting cabinets, there are two main methods for getting the job done. The first is a simple DIY approach.
First, you’ll want to remove the doors and drawers from the cabinet boxes. Then, mask off the walls and appliances with tape and a drop cloth. Paint the doors and drawers separately from the boxes, with a brush or roller. We’ve seen the best results using chalk-paint, which looks great when finished.
This is a method you can usually do yourself in a few days. While this approach is fast, cheap, and simple, it requires a lot of maintenance, and the results are often mediocre. The paint will likely begin to peel and bubble within a few weeks to months and will require constant touch-up work throughout its lifetime.
The other option is to have it done professionally. In this case, the painter will remove and drawers from the cabinets and send them to a professional paint shop to get painted in a booth. Then, they’ll paint the remaining boxes in place. Once everything is done, they’ll reattach the doors and drawers. Although this method tends to produce a more durable, longer-lasting finish, it is still very limiting in terms of customization.
How much does it cost to repaint kitchen cabinets?
If you choose to do it yourself, repainting your cabinets is often the least expensive option. It’s also the lowest-quality job on the market, but if the price is the most important thing to you, this is the way to go. The total cost of materials is usually around $200, including tape, dropcloth, and enough paint to cover your cabinets.
If you hire a professional to repaint your cabinets, you’ll end up with a cleaner, more uniform quality finish that gives your cabinets an almost-new look. For a project like this, you can expect to spend between $5,000 – $10,000, depending on the size of your kitchen.
Pros & Cons of repainting your cabinets
- Least expensive option
- Relatively fast, easy process
- Little to no design work is required
- Low-quality finished product
- Can’t change cabinet construction material or hardware
- Won’t solve design issues
Repaint your cabinets when:
- It’s the only option you can afford
- You like everything about your current cabinets but want to refresh them
Option 2: Cabinet Refacing
Considered a mid-tier cabinet option for kitchen remodeling, cabinet refacing is a halfway point between repainting and replacing. As with repainting, your cabinet boxes stay exactly where they currently are. However, this approach offers you more flexibility in terms of style and color changes.
Refacing cabinets involves keeping your old cabinet boxes but replacing them with brand new doors and drawer faces. With this type of cabinet remodel, you replace the bulk of your kitchen’s visible cabinet surfaces with new material. This offers a nice aesthetic reset to your kitchen without needing to replace the entire cabinet setup.
What is the process for refacing cabinets?
Cabinet reface projects are often done by specialized refacing companies. When you hire someone to reface your cabinets, the first step is to figure out the dimensions of the cabinet doors and drawers. They’ll need a full inventory of each surface you intend to replace so they can order the correct size. It’s best to replace every door and drawer in your kitchen at once so that they all match.
The next step is for you to select a style and color for your new cabinet surfaces. Shaker and slab style cabinets are currently popular, but there are also dozens of other available style options for you to choose from. Once you’ve settled on a style and ordered the new doors and drawers, then need to match your cabinet boxes to the new doors. This can be done using paint if you want solid-color cabinets. If you choose a wood stain finish for your doors, the best way to match the boxes is by installing a veneer or panel to the exterior of the cabinets.
Once the boxes are painted and the new hardware arrives, the last step is to install the doors and drawers. To ensure proper alignment and reduce damage risk, this is also a task you might consider leaving up to a professional carpenter.
How much does it cost to reface cabinets?
Several factors will influence the cost of a full kitchen cabinet refacing project. While jobs like these don’t require the work of a designer, you can greatly benefit from the expertise one can provide. A little design work upfront can help you establish a comprehensive plan for taking inventory and purchasing all of the necessary doors, drawers, and hardware for your cabinets. It will also help you envision how the space will look at the end of the project so you know exactly what to expect.
In addition to a designer’s help, you’ll want to hire a professional cabinet refacing company to handle most of the work. This will likely include a painter to handle the cabinet boxes and a carpenter to install the doors and drawers. The cost adds up when you combine the cost of new cabinet surfaces with the labor costs of a designer, painter, and carpenter. For an average-sized, 12×12, U-shaped kitchen, the total cost for cabinet refacing can be anywhere from $10,000-$15,000. As you can read about below, this price is astoundingly close to the cost of entirely new cabinets.
Pros and cons of refacing your cabinets
- Fresh, brand new doors & drawers
- Cabinet boxes don’t need to be replaced
- The job process is typically very fast
- You don’t have to replace countertops/backsplash
- Closer in price to new cabinets
- Limited by cabinet design of the old kitchen
- Sometimes no hardware replacement
- Interiors are the same
- Construction is the same
- Design is the exact same.
Reface your cabinets if:
- You want a quick fix with a better quality finish than repainting can offer.
- You want to stain them a different color instead of paint them.
- You don’t want to replace the countertop
Option 3: Cabinet Replacing
Although it can be more expensive than a repaint or reface, the option to replace your cabinets offers more flexibility and customization than any other option. It will also increase the value of your kitchen by the highest dollar amount.
Cabinet replacing involves tearing out all of the old cabinets from your kitchen and replacing them with brand new cabinets. The new cabinets can be installed in the exact same arrangement as the old ones, or you can switch it up and go for a new kitchen layout. A cabinet replacement project gives you full control over the style, color, and arrangement of your cabinets.
What’s the process for replacing cabinets?
First off, when replacing cabinets, it’s always a good idea to work with a professional designer. Cabinet design is a tricky process and you’ll benefit greatly from the expertise of someone who understands cabinet layout and how to order the correct sized cabinets for your kitchen. A designer can help you figure out what in your old layout can stay and what you should change to improve functionality.
Once you’ve decided on a design layout, you or your contractor can purchase the cabinets from a manufacturer. Cabinet installation is a job that should always be done by trained professionals. Poor installation can affect the integrity of your cabinets and damage your appliances or countertops. A skilled carpenter will remove all of the old cabinets and prepare the space for installation. This involves making sure the floor and walls are flat and level so the cabinets will mount firmly.
Installing new cabinetry is a process that affects nearly every area of the kitchen. Because everything is going to get torn up and moved out anyway, it’s often a good idea to replace your countertops, backsplash, and flooring at the same time. In addition, you also have the option to upgrade your cabinetry to a more durable surface material. Instead of paint, you might consider matte foil wrapped cabinets, like these ones from Dura Supreme.
How much does it cost to replace cabinets?
Although cabinet replacement does require the expertise of a designer and more labor to install, the cost is somewhat variable. What it ultimately comes down to is the quality of the cabinets you choose.
You may be surprised to learn that new cabinets can cost as little as refacing them. A full-sized kitchen cabinet set from Fabuwood, an entry-level, good-quality cabinet manufacturer, costs between $16,000 – $20,000. New cabinets can also get much more expensive – we’ve seen clients willing to pay $70,000 for high-end, best-level cabinets.
Pros and cons of replacing cabinets
- Brand new cabinetry including doors, drawers, and boxes
- Freedom to design a new layout
- Adds most value to your home
- Longer process for manufacturing & installation
- Costs can vary – may be similar to refacing or much more expensive
- May require new countertops, backsplash, & flooring
Replace your cabinets if:
- The kitchen has layout designs that need to be solved
- You want to start fresh with completely new cabinetry
- You are planning to remodel more than just the cabinetry
Want to learn more about kitchen remodel design?
If you’re as fascinated with the process of remodeling as other homeowners like yourself, you’ve come to the right place! Now that you know more about how to repaint, reface, or replace your cabinets, check out the resources on our website! Here you can learn more about how to turn your current home into your dream home. When you’re ready to become an expert on the art of kitchen remodeling, read through our Ultimate Kitchen Remodel Guide.
Are you ready to stop waiting and start designing your own kitchen remodel? If so, come talk to the remodeling experts at Lamont Bros! We’ll walk you through the entire process of remodeling your kitchen, starting with your ideas and dreams and ending with a finished remodel. Click the link below to schedule a free video consultation with our professional design staff today!