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The Ultimate Guide to Cabinet Refacing vs Painting Cost

Updated: Dec 19, 2023

Are you considering giving your kitchen a fresh new look without breaking the bank? One cost-effective way to revitalize your kitchen is by updating your cabinets. Two popular methods for achieving this are cabinet refacing and painting. In this guide, we’ll explore the differences between these options, compare “cabinet refacing vs painting cost”, weigh the pros and cons, and provide useful tips to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you’re looking to sell your home or simply improve its aesthetics, understanding the distinctions between cabinet refacing and painting can save you time and money while delivering impressive results. Let’s dive in!


Key Takeaways


  • Cabinet refacing and painting are two distinct processes with different purposes.

  • Cabinet painting is More economical than cabinet refacing, but cost should not be the only consideration when making a decision.

  • Selecting quality materials and experienced professionals is essential for achieving desired results in cabinet refacing or painting projects.


Understanding Cabinet Refacing and Painting



Classic kitchen room interior with large kitchen island with granite counter tops, modern cabinets, stainless steel appliances and pantry.
Classic kitchen room interior with large kitchen island with granite counter tops modern cabinets, stainless steel appliances and pantry.

Cabinet refacing and painting may seem similar on the surface, but they serve different purposes and involve distinct processes. Refacing cabinets involves replacing existing cabinet doors and drawer fronts, while painting entails applying a new layer of paint to the current doors, drawers, and cabinet walls.

Deciding between the two options depends on your preference. If your kitchen cabinet doors don’t appeal to you anymore, cabinet refacing might be an ideal solution. Conversely, if you like your existing doors but want a different finish, cabinet painting might be preferable. Now, let’s delve into the specifics of each option.


Cabinet Refacing: What It Is


Cabinet refacing, especially refacing kitchen cabinets, is the process of retaining the existing cabinet boxes while replacing the doors and drawer faces with newer counterparts. This method offers a cost-effective way to achieve a new look without the expense and hassle of a full cabinet replacement. To reface cabinets, the procedure typically involves removing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts, applying a fresh veneer or finish to the existing cabinet surfaces, and potentially replacing the hardware.


Materials commonly used in cabinet refacing include:


  • Wood

  • PVC vinyl

  • Laminate

  • Wood veneers

  • Plastic laminates

  • Rigid thermofoils


Depending on the size of your kitchen and the number of cabinets to be refaced, the project can take up to four days to complete.


Cabinet Painting: What It Is


Cabinet painting, on the other hand, involves applying a fresh coat of paint to the existing doors, drawers, and cabinet walls. This option is not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly, as it repurposes your current cabinets instead of replacing them with new cabinet doors.

The best way to approach painting kitchen cabinets is to enlist the services of a cabinet company, as they can ensure the paint applied does not wear away quickly. The process typically involves:

  1. Removing the drawers and sending them to a professional paint shop to be painted in a booth.

  2. Painting the remaining boxes in place.

  3. Reattaching the doors and drawers.



Cost Breakdown: Cabinet Refacing vs Painting



Getting a grasp on the cost variations between cabinet refacing and painting can aid you in making an informed decision. Generally, cabinet painting is more economical than cabinet refacing. The estimated cost for cabinet refacing typically ranges from $4,300 to $9,980, while the estimated cost for cabinet painting typically ranges from $1,500 to $5,000.

However, cost should not be the only factor in your decision-making process. You must take into account the value each option adds to your kitchen. We’ll delve into the variables that can influence the cost of both cabinet refacing and painting.


Factors Affecting Cabinet Refacing Cost


Detail of shaker style kitchen cupboard joinery doors and brushed gold handles.
Detail of shaker style kitchen cupboard joinery doors and brushed gold handles.


The cost of cabinet refacing is influenced by several factors, including the materials used, labor required, and the size of the kitchen. Kitchens with more cabinets tend to incur a higher cost for refacing than those with fewer cabinets. The materials used, such as laminate, plywood veneer, or solid wood, can also significantly impact the cost, which ranges from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the material quality and cabinet size.

On average, cabinet refacing costs about $7,000. The cost mainly depends on the material and can range from $60-$500 per linear foot. Laminate is at the lower end with $60-$80, followed by plywood veneer with $100 - $200 and solid wood topping up to $250 - $500.


Factors Affecting Cabinet Painting Cost


Endless cabinet door selection.
Endless cabinet door selection.

Cabinet painting costs are generally determined by the paint quality, labor, and the size of the kitchen. The quality of paint used can significantly affect the cost, as higher-quality paints tend to be more expensive, but they can also yield a more desirable finish and longer-lasting results. Cabinet painters typically charge an hourly rate of approximately $90 for labor.

The size of the kitchen can also impact the cost of painting cabinets, with larger kitchens usually incurring higher costs due to the increased amount of cabinets requiring more time, materials, and labor. Ultimately, the cost can be calculated based on the linear or square footage of the cabinets.


Pros and Cons: Cabinet Refacing vs Painting



Beautiful kitchen in luxury home with island, pendant lights, cabinets, and hardwood floors. tile back splash, stainless steel oven,range, a. tile back splash, stainless steel oven,range, and hood compliment the elegant features.
Beautiful kitchen in luxury home with island, pendant lights, cabinets, and hardwood floors. tile back splash, stainless steel oven,range, a. tile back splash, stainless steel oven,range, and hood compliment the elegant features.


Having compared the costs of cabinet refacing and painting, it’s time to explore the advantages and disadvantages of each method. Cabinet refacing offers numerous benefits such as cost savings, time-saving, less disruption, and being eco-friendly. However, it also has certain drawbacks, including less durability, limited improvement to cabinet interiors, inability to make layout changes, and potential cost considerations.

On the other hand, cabinet painting may not add as much value to a home as refacing, but it should still increase the home’s value. We’ll delve into the benefits and drawbacks of both alternatives in further depth.


Advantages of Cabinet Refacing


Cabinet refacing, which includes cabinet refinishing, offers a wide range of design options, such as:


  • Cabinet painting

  • Modern cabinet trends

  • Open shelving

  • High-gloss materials

  • Adding wood trim to cabinet doors

  • Selecting different colors and styles


Additionally, refacing projects are typically completed within 3-5 working days, making them a time-efficient option for homeowners.

Another notable advantage of cabinet refacing is the increased home value it provides. By improving the aesthetic of the kitchen, which is often considered the heart of the home, cabinet refacing can allow homeowners to recoup over 80% of the project cost when the home is resold.


Disadvantages of Cabinet Refacing


Despite its benefits, cabinet refacing also has some drawbacks. Here are a few to consider:


  1. Refacing is generally more expensive than painting.

  2. It doesn’t address any structural or layout issues with the existing cabinets.

  3. The interior of the cabinets remains largely unchanged, which may not resolve any workflow or storage problems.


Furthermore, there may be hidden costs associated with a cabinet refacing project, such as repairs, upgrades and customization, removal and disposal, and any unforeseen complications. These potential additional costs should be taken into account when contemplating cabinet refacing.


Advantages of Cabinet Painting


Cabinet painting offers several benefits, including its cost-effectiveness, eco-friendliness, and the ability to change the kitchen’s appearance with minimal effort. By selecting from a range of colors and finishes, you can refresh the look of your painted cabinets without having to replace them.

Moreover, cabinet painting can contribute to eco-friendliness by:

  • Utilizing water-based stains or paints with lower VOC content for stained cabinets

  • Diminishing waste through repainting existing cabinets

  • Employing eco-friendly formulas with recycled materials or natural pigments.


Disadvantages of Cabinet Painting


Cabinet painting also comes with its share of challenges. Some of these challenges include:


  • Painting detailed or intricate cabinets may be difficult, leading to uneven paint coverage

  • Extended painting time

  • Potential paint drips or runs

  • Difficulty in achieving a smooth finish on the detailed surfaces


Certain types of cabinets, such as hard maple and melamine, can also be more challenging to paint. Additionally, painted kitchen cabinets may require regular cleaning, maintenance, and potential repairs for scratches or discoloration. These aspects should be considered when choosing cabinet painting.


How to Choose the Right Option for Your Kitchen


Modern beige and grey colored kitchen interior in classic style with dining table in luxury home.
Modern beige and grey colored kitchen interior in classic style with dining table in luxury home.

Armed with the insights on cabinet refacing and painting, you’re now in a better position to decide, considering your kitchen cabinets’ condition, your budget, and your anticipated outcomes. Assess the state of your cabinets and consider whether a minor update like painting would suffice or if a more extensive transformation through refacing is warranted.

Ultimately, the choice between cabinet refacing and painting will depend on your unique needs and preferences. By carefully considering all factors, you can ensure a successful project that will breathe new life into your kitchen while staying within your budget.


Assessing Your Kitchen Cabinets' Condition


Assessing the condition of your cabinets is a vital step towards identifying the best choice for your kitchen. Check for any signs of water damage, structural issues, or cosmetic flaws. If your cabinets are in good shape but simply need a new look, painting may be the better option. However, if the front-facing doors are unsatisfactory, refacing may be the recommended solution.

Keep in mind that the condition of your cabinets is just one factor to consider. Your budget and desired results should also play a significant role in your decision-making process.


Considering Your Budget and Desired Results


When it comes to budget and desired results, cabinet refacing offers a more extensive transformation at a higher cost, while painting is a more budget-friendly update. The estimated cost differential between cabinet refacing and painting is approximately $1,500 to $5,000, with refacing costing around $6,500 and painting cabinets requiring around $100 to $200 for materials.

Remember that more intricate or customized end results may necessitate additional labor and materials, thereby increasing the overall cost of the project. Consider what you hope to achieve with your kitchen makeover and how much you’re willing to invest in the process before making a final decision.


Tips for a Successful Cabinet Refacing or Painting Project


Beautiful kitchen in luxury contemporary home modern interior with island and stainless steel chairs.
Beautiful kitchen in luxury contemporary home modern interior with island and stainless steel chairs.

Whether you opt for cabinet refacing or painting, following a few essential tips can help ensure a smooth and successful project. Choosing quality materials and hiring experienced professionals can make a significant difference in the outcome and longevity of your kitchen cabinets.

We’ll delve deeper into these tips, aiming to assist you in attaining the optimal outcome from your cabinet refacing or painting project.


Choosing Quality Materials


Selecting high-quality materials for your cabinet refacing or painting project is crucial for achieving a durable and visually appealing result.


For refacing, consider using materials like:


  • Wood

  • PVC vinyl

  • Medium density fiberboard (MDF)

  • Laminate


For cabinet painting, it’s important to use high-quality paint and the appropriate primer to ensure a long-lasting finish.

By investing in quality materials, you can rest assured that your old cabinets, with their internal shelves, will stand the test of time and maintain their beauty for years to come.


Hiring the Right Professionals


While it may be tempting to tackle cabinet refacing or painting as a DIY project, hiring experienced professionals can often lead to better results. Professionals have the necessary skills, tools, and expertise to ensure a smooth and successful project, providing expert advice and skilled labor.

To verify the experience and credentials of a professional cabinet painter or refacer, you can:

  • Request referrals or references from prior clients

  • Examine online reviews and ratings

  • Inquire about their experience and training

  • Observe examples of their previous work

This due diligence will help you find the right professional for your project and achieve the kitchen makeover you’ve always dreamed of.


Summary


In conclusion, both cabinet refacing and painting offer cost-effective solutions for homeowners looking to revitalize their kitchen cabinets. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, making the choice between the two dependent on factors such as cabinet condition, budget, and desired results. By carefully considering all aspects, you can make an informed decision that will transform your kitchen and enhance its overall appeal.


So, whether you choose cabinet refacing for a more extensive transformation or painting for a budget-friendly update, the key to a successful project lies in selecting quality materials and hiring experienced professionals. With the right approach, your kitchen cabinets will enjoy a fresh new look that will last for years to come.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is it cheaper to paint kitchen cabinets or reface them?


Overall, it is significantly cheaper to paint kitchen cabinets than to reface them. Painting will save you more money compared to cabinet replacement, although it can be challenging and typically costs more than painting walls in the house.


What is the downside of cabinet refacing?


Cabinet refacing is not suitable for structural repairs and cannot change the layout of cabinets. Additionally, it offers no improvement to the interior of cabinets and is less durable than a full replacement.


Is cabinet refacing worth it?


Cabinet refacing can save up to 25-50% on the cost of replacing cabinets and is done in much less time, making it a great option if you're looking for an affordable way to update your kitchen.


What is the main difference between cabinet refacing and painting?


Cabinet refacing involves replacing existing cabinet doors and drawer fronts, while painting simply entails applying a new layer of paint to the existing cabinets. Thus, the main difference between the two is that cabinet refacing is a more thorough and comprehensive approach.

What factors influence the cost of cabinet refacing and painting?

The cost of cabinet refacing and painting is primarily influenced by the quality of materials, labor, and kitchen size.

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