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Problems with Refacing Kitchen Cabinets: What You Must Consider

Looking to reface your kitchen? Understanding the potential issues with refacing cabinets is key. You might run into design limitations and structural complications. Discover what could go wrong and decide if refacing cabinets is the right move for your kitchen makeover.

Key Takeaways about Potential Problems with Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Problems with Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

  • Refacing cabinets can update the look but has limitations in design choices, won’t fix structural problems and can be time-consuming, especially if DIY.

  • Cabinet refacing is cost-effective, saving 25-50% over new cabinets, and is more eco-friendly by reusing materials and reducing waste.

  • Choosing quality materials for refacing like wood veneer, laminates, and hardware is crucial for aesthetics and durability, while weighing the option of DIY versus hiring professionals must consider skill, time, and budget.

Challenges of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Old and worn-out kitchen cabinets in need of refacing
Old and worn-out kitchen cabinets in need of refacing

Opting to reface your cabinets is a cost-effective and convenient way of giving your space a fresh look without committing to a full remodel. Before embarking on this project, there are certain challenges that you should be aware of. Kitchen cabinet refacing costs are significantly less than total kitchen remodels, and can drastically improve the appearance of your cabinets, but it may come with limitations when it comes to design options.

Keep in mind that if there are any underlying structural issues with your current cabinets, refacing alone will not resolve them. Furthermore, it’s important to note that depending on the scale and complexity of the project, as well as whether you choose DIY or professional services, the process itself could potentially take up quite some time.

Limitations in Design Options

One of the primary obstacles when it comes to kitchen refacing is limited ability to make design changes. Although this approach effectively updates your existing kitchen appearance, it maintains the current layout of your existing cabinets. This means that if you are dissatisfied with how they are currently arranged, refacing may not be an appropriate solution.

While kitchen refacing often does provide a cosmetic makeover for your kitchen, significant structural modifications cannot be made. If you intend on adding or removing cabinets or completely revamping the layout of your kitchen space in general. Simply opting for a refacing might prove insufficient in achieving desired results, especially when dealing with poorly designed kitchens requiring extensive alterations.

Inability to Fix Structural Issues

Cabinet refacing also has its limitations, particularly when it comes to addressing underlying structural problems. Refacing is not a viable solution for cabinets that have suffered water damage, are damaged or have separated face frames. These issues not only affect the appearance of your cabinets, but their overall functionality as well.

It’s important to note that cabinet refacing primarily serves as an aesthetic improvement rather than a structural one. This means that if your cabinets are already in poor condition, simply refacing them will not resolve these underlying issues. In such cases where significant damages exist, opting for a complete cabinet replacement may be a more suitable and effective option.

Time-Consuming Process

Refacing your existing cabinets is a labor-intensive task that can take several days to complete, especially if you are doing it on your own. This process involves not only attaching new veneers or laminates to the existing surface but also removing and cleaning old cabinet doors and drawer fronts before applying the new veneer material carefully. Depending on the size of your kitchen and number of cabinets, this can be a long process.

It’s important to note that refacing isn’t just about adding in new cabinet doors and materials. Rather, it includes extensive preparation work such as taking off old cabinet doors, cleaning surfaces thoroughly, fixing damaged cabinets, and precisely fitting in the replacements. Whether you choose professional help or plan to do it yourself, take into consideration both factors - the complexity of your project and the time required - when planning for refacing your kitchen cabinets. Still, the end result will be a newly updated kitchen decor.

Pros and Cons of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Cost-saving benefits of kitchen cabinet refacing
Cost-saving benefits of kitchen cabinet refacing

Despite the difficulties, opting for kitchen cabinet refacing comes with its own set of advantages. The most notable one being cost efficiency - compared to purchasing brand-new cabinets, you can save anywhere between 25% and 50%. This makes it a viable option for those working on a tight budget. Refacing is more environmentally friendly as it utilizes existing materials instead of creating waste and depleting resources.

There are limitations to consider when choosing this method. Refacing primarily focuses on enhancing the appearance of your current cabinets and does not allow for significant improvements in functionality and changes to the existing layout. Now let’s take a closer look at both the pros and cons associated with kitchen cabinet refacing.

Cost Savings

Refacing your kitchen cabinets offers a significant advantage over replacing them, especially in terms of cost. While getting new cabinets can be quite expensive, especially if you opt for custom designs or high-quality materials, refacing existing cabinets is much more budget-friendly. In fact, it typically costs less than half the price of a full cabinet replacement.

The total cost of cabinet refacing will vary depending on factors such as the size and number of cabinets being worked on, the chosen materials used during the process, and where you live geographically. However, in most cases, you’ll find that going with refaced instead of replaced proves to be a far more economical option.

Environmental Benefits

Refacing your cabinets not only offers cost savings but also provides several environmental advantages. By reusing existing materials and keeping existing cabinet boxes in place while replacing old doors, drawer fronts, and hardware, the amount of waste ending up in landfills is reduced. This process conserves resources.

Furthermore, in choosing to reface instead of replacing your cabinets, you are decreasing the demand for new materials which results in lower energy consumption during manufacturing. This eco-friendly approach not only saves you money, but also helps lessen the environmental impact of a full kitchen remodeling or renovation.

Limited Improvement

Although refacing has its benefits, it is important to understand that it primarily focuses on improving the appearance of your cabinets. It does not greatly enhance the functionality or your kitchen's layout. If you have structural concerns with your current kitchen setup or are unhappy with the design, refacing may not be the most suitable option.

Replacing cabinets allows for more customization compared to just refacing them. This means if you have a specific look in mind or want additional features added to your cabinets, there may be limitations when choosing to reface instead of replace them.

Selecting Quality Materials for Cabinet Refacing

Selection of quality wood veneers for cabinet refacing
Selection of quality wood veneers for cabinet refacing

When considering refacing as a solution for your kitchen remodel, the next step is to select appropriate materials. Your choice of material will greatly impact the appearance, longevity, and cost of the remodeling project. It's always a wise ideal to choose high quality materials. The three main options for refacing include veneers, laminates, and new hardware.

Each option has its own merits, and we will now delve into each one in more detail.

Wood Veneers

Cabinet doors made of natural wood veneers are a popular choice among those looking to reface their cabinets as they provide an excellent, long-lasting finish. These thin slices of wood that can be affixed onto cabinet surfaces give them a modern and updated appearance.

Compared to alternatives like laminates or rigid thermofoil, using wood veneers may come at a higher cost. The price for refacing your cabinet doors with this material could range anywhere from $2,500 to over $6,000 depending on the size of your kitchen. If you desire superior quality and durability in your new cabinetry, look no further than opting for beautiful wooden or wood veneer top finishes.


Laminate is a popular choice for refacing cabinets due to its affordability and versatility. This synthetic material, made from layers of paper and plastic, comes in various colors and styles that can fit any budget. It is also highly durable, making it ideal for areas with heavy use like kitchens.

Aside from being cost-effective, laminates are resistant to scratches and stains, which makes them easy to maintain. For cabinet refacing costs ranging from $2,000-$4,000 on average-sized kitchens, using laminate materials offers an affordable option that does not compromise quality or durability.

Hardware Choices

Although veneers and laminates can completely transform the appearance of your cabinets, it’s important not to overlook the impact that new hardware can have. By upgrading elements such as hinges, handles door hinges, and knobs on your cabinets, you can significantly enhance the overall look of your kitchen.

When choosing new hardware for your cabinetry, be sure to take into account both the style of your kitchen and desired aesthetic. For instance, a warmer color scheme pairs well with bronze,gold or black hardware while gray finishes are complemented by silver,pewter,and black options effectively

DIY vs. Hiring Professionals for Cabinet Refacing

Comparison between DIY cabinet refacing and professional services
Comparison between DIY cabinet refacing and professional services

When considering whether to tackle cabinet refacing on your own or hire professionals, it’s important to take into account factors such as your level of expertise, available time for the project and budget. Familiarizing yourself with what this process entails and the materials that can be used will help you make an informed decision.

Skill Requirements

Undertaking a DIY cabinet refacing project requires specific skills. This includes being detail-oriented, having experience with tools, and possessing basic knowledge of measurements and cutting materials.

Despite having these abilities, one may encounter common mistakes such as inadequate preparation or mismatched styles and colors. Another mistake to avoid is skipping steps in the process, which can result in an unsatisfactory outcome. It’s also crucial to correctly label and protect your kitchen during the refacing process.

Time Commitment

It is important to also consider the amount of time that will be required to reface your existing cabinets. Even if you hire professionals, this process can still take several days due to its labor-intensive nature. Those who plan on doing it themselves should allocate even more time.

The timeline may vary depending on factors such as the size of your kitchen and the number of cabinets. One must account for preparation and application times for new materials as well as drying periods before completion.

Professional Services

Conversely, enlisting the services of a professional for your kitchen cabinet refacing worth this venture can provide numerous advantages. First and foremost, professionals possess the necessary expertise and equipment to deliver impeccable results. This not only saves you time but also relieves any stress associated with DIY projects.

Experts such as Ideal Home Improvement a Massachusetts based company, have access to a wider selection of materials, which offers more options for your project. While it may seem costlier initially, hiring a professional can prove economical in the long run by avoiding costly mistakes and ensuring that you receive durable and high-quality finishes for your cabinets.

Alternatives to Cabinet Refacing

A handyman sanding kitchen cabinets
Comparison of cabinet refacing alternatives

While refacing cabinets is a popular choice for kitchen renovations, it’s not the only option available. If you’re looking to update your cabinets in a more impactful way or if cabinet refacing doesn’t align with your vision, there are alternatives such as painting them, upgrading existing hardware, or even completely replacing them altogether. These options offer different levels of change and can cater to varying budgets and preferences.

Cabinet Painting

Cabinet painting presents a wallet-friendly and environmentally conscious option compared to refacing. By modifying the color of your cabinets, you can give your kitchen an entirely new appearance.

The process for repainting the old cabinet boxes includes:

  1. Detaching doors and drawers

  2. Thoroughly cleaning all surfaces

  3. Applying primer on the cabinets

4.Apply coat(s) of paint

Although it may require some time and effort, cabinet painting Costs less than refacing while also being more beneficial for the environment.

Replacing Cabinet Hardware

A cost-effective and simple way to give your kitchen a new look without going through a full refacing process is by replacing the cabinet hardware. This means changing the handles of doors and drawer pulls and on drawers for your existing cabinets.

It’s an easy project that can usually be completed within one or two days, making it both time-efficient and budget-friendly. Selecting the right hardware can significantly impact how your entire kitchen looks, so if you’re seeking a quick update option, this may be perfect for you.

Full Cabinet Replacement

If your kitchen layout current cabinets are in poor condition or if you desire a complete kitchen transformation, opting for a full cabinet replacement may be the ideal solution. This process involves taking out old cabinets and installing brand new ones.

Though it is pricier than other options, this approach yields significant and noticeable results. You will have total control over designing and arranging your new cabinetry to perfectly fit your preferences.

  • Select materials and finishes that best reflect your personal style.

  • Customize storage solutions according to specific needs.

  • Create a tailored kitchen space that caters precisely to your lifestyle.


To give your kitchen a new and fresh look, refacing your cabinets can be an environmentally-friendly option that also saves on costs. It’s important to understand the process involved, required materials, time commitment and any potential drawbacks before starting. If refacing is not suitable for you, there are alternatives such as painting or replacing hardware which could work better. Ultimately, investing in a kitchen makeover has many benefits including increasing the value of your home and enhancing your overall experience in the space.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the cons of Cabinet Refacing?

Cabinet Refacing will only enhance their appearance and won’t solve any functional problems they may have. The expense of this project varies depending on personal style preferences, so it might not be the most cost-effective option for everyone.

How long do refaced kitchen cabinets last?

The longevity of refaced kitchen cabinets can range up to 20 years or beyond when constructed with top-quality materials such as wood veneers or laminate. The lifespan may be shortened if lower-grade options like particleboard are utilized in construction.

Is it better to reface or paint cabinets?

It’s better to reface cabinets rather than paint them, as painted cabinets typically have a 5-year lifespan, after which replacing new doors or refacing should be considered.

Is it cheaper to buy new cabinets or reface them?

Cabinet Refacing is often the cheaper option compared to replacing them entirely, but it depends on the condition of the existing cabinets and the overall kitchen design.

Consider these factors before making a decision.

Can I change the layout of my kitchen through Cabinet Refacing?

Cabinet Refacing does not permit major modifications to the arrangement of your kitchen, as it primarily focuses on making cosmetic changes.

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