At Creative Kitchens, we’ve noticed that when it comes to cabinets, one of the greatest misconceptions people have is the difference between cabinet “refacing” and “refinishing” (luckily, everyone seems to have the term “replacing” down). People seem to fall into two camps: they’re either unsure of what each entails, or they think the two terms are interchangeable. About the only thing anyone seems certain of is that both processes are cheaper than buying new cabinets. And if your cabinets are well-made and in good condition, refacing or refinishing are viable options to freshen up your kitchen’s look. Let’s clear up all misconceptions in short order – and while we’re at it, make you semi-experts on refacing and refinishing.
First things first. What the heck are refacing and refinishing?
In refacing , the existing cabinet framework is retained and the surfaces are replaced with laminate or wood veneer. You keep your existing cabinet boxes, but replace all cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones. It is also common to can also replace cabinet face frames, side panels, and moldings to achieve a uniform appearance. This also treats blemishes and finish issues while giving you the flexibility to update the style or color as you wish. You can even add the flourish of crown molding or decorative hardware. In refacing, the doors and drawer fronts are removed. The old finish is roughed up on face frames and side panels in order to begin the process. Next, the installer will nail or glue finish over the old to fill all existing nail holes and trim edges and seams to soften their appearance. Molding or new panels are attached to the upper cabinet undersides for a polished look. In addition, and the installer may replace the toekick on the base cabinet. Finally, brand-new doors and drawer fronts are installed, complete with new hardware.
Refinishing retains the main components of your cabinetry while altering the color or the finish. This is accomplished by sanding or chemically stripping the existing wood finish, followed by the application of new paint or stain. The three most common finish options are wood veneer, rigid thermofoils (RTF), and plastic laminates. Laminates for refacing can be found in a range of solid colors and wood-grain looks. While spendier than RTF, laminates are not particularly malleable. As a result, you are limited to plain cabinet door styles. RTF, by contrast, can be fashioned into a variety of styles. While RTF does not have the color availability of laminates, it is easy to achieve a realistic wood grain look.
Okay… so, what’s the cost?
Refacing is the more expensive option of the two. HomeAdvisor.com places the national average for refacing at around $6,600. There are several factors that cause the price tag to vary, such as materials used and the number of cabinets involved. The key statistic to remember here, though, is that you’ll pay about half as much for refacing as you would replacing (it really rolls off the tongue).
Refinishing. According to Improvenet.com, the national average to refinish cabinets in a kitchen is a little more than $2,400. Obviously, the more cabinets, the higher the price tag. Also, the complexity of the job can make a difference: cabinetry that has little to no detailing, carving, or trim is simpler to refinish than more ornate cabinets. The time and expertise required to evenly refinish complex carved or detailed cabinets will increase the final total.
Keep in mind, though, that these are just rough estimates to be used as a yardstick!
How do I know which process is right for my kitchen?
Refacing can be a great route for those who want to update the look of their kitchen without going to the trouble and expense of changing the layout. The variety of colors and finishes to choose from means that you can indulge your creativity. Since it takes only a few days at most, the inconvenience factor is minimal. But if your cabinets are in great shape and you’re not in love with the color, look into refinishing. Still another way to go is to mix and match — stain the cabinets to bring out their rich oak tones, but replace a couple of doors with glass panes to display the fine china. The possibilities are endless.
There’s no substitute for having a professional perspective on your cabinetry needs. At Creative Kitchens, we use our expertise to give you exactly what you’re looking for down to the last detail. We pride ourselves in providing the best cabinet refacing services in Portland. And, you’ll be heard-pressed to find a more skilled team for cabinet refinishing in Portland. But why not schedule a consultation to find out for yourself? Drop us a line today to find out how we can unlock your kitchen’s potential.