Buying new cabinets vs. refacing your existing cabinets

    Refacing cabinets is a process where the doors and drawer fronts are taken off of your cabinets and
    replaced with new ones.  The cabinet surfaces that are exposed are laminated with plastic laminate or
    wood veneer to match the new doors and fronts.  Sometimes the drawer boxes and slides are replaced
    as well.  The purpose of refacing rather than buying new is to save money by avoiding a complete
    remodeling of your kitchen.  For the most part, refacing provides your kitchen with a face lift whereas
    new cabinets will provide you with an aesthetic as well as functional upgrade.  However, functional
    upgrades can be part of a refacing effort by replacing the drawers and slides and putting in modern
    conveniences such as trash pullouts or roll out shelves.  Of course, doing so will significantly add to the
    cost.

    Typically, I would not recommend refacing because it does not provide as much value as replacing your
    cabinets.  Here are the reasons why:

  1. Refaced cabinets will look nicer than what you had but probably not nicer than new ones.  Even
    inexpensive cabinet lines often have nice-looking doors and drawer fronts on them.   The process of
    laminating over your existing cabinet boxes on site does have inherent limitations that the process of
    finishing cabinet boxes at the factory doesn't have.  
  2. You probably won't save that much money over buying new cabinets.  The most expensive part of a
    cabinet is the door and drawer fronts.  If you are having your drawers upgraded as well then the only
    thing you are saving on is the box, which is the cheapest part of the cabinet for most manufacturers.  If
    your old cabinets have old painted interiors that are difficult to clean, you will still have that when the
    refacing job is done.
  3. By refacing, you will save money on construction costs but may regret not spending the money in the
    end.  While it is inconvenient to have your kitchen torn up for several weeks and does cost money to do
    so, it is likely that if your cabinets need updating, so do other areas of your kitchen.  The fact is, I have
    never torn out cabinets in a remodeling project that I thought were in good enough shape to reuse or
    that I thought just needed some new facing and would then be good as new.  Chances are that your
    current layout is not as functional as it could be  and starting from scratch gives you the option of altering
    your cabinet layout to make things more functional.  Furthermore, your kitchen's electrical, plumbing, and
    flooring systems need updating as well and removing your existing cabinets allows for easier access to
    those systems.

    So if you are considering refacing, make sure you price the cost of buying new cabinets against the cost
    of refacing to see just how much you will really save.  Think through your kitchen needs thoroughly  and
    ask yourself if it is the appearance of the kitchen that you are most displeased with or the function of the
    kitchen.  You don't want to end up with a situation where you've paid to have your cabinets refaced but
    end up being unhappy because you still basically have the same kitchen that you had.   If you are happy
    with the layout of your kitchen and your cabinets are fairly new and in good condition but just have an
    outdated appearance, then refacing may be an option that makes sense.