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Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

The Difference Between Refinishing and Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

The lifespan of kitchen cabinets can be as long as 50 years, but you may not want your kitchen to have the same look for decades. That said, replacing cabinets is an involved and costly process. You may want to consider refacing or refinishing instead. Cabinet refacing and refinishing are more affordable alternatives, and either option makes sense if you like your kitchen’s current layout. Here’s a discussion of the difference between kitchen cabinet refinishing and kitchen cabinet refacing services.

What Are Refacing and Resurfacing?

Kitchen cabinet refacing and resurfacing are similar processes. Both involve the replacement of all surfaces and parts you can see when the cabinets are shut. These surfaces and parts include knobs, doors, and the front panels of drawers.

Toe kicks, end panels, and the front of frames are usually resurfaced by using laminates and veneers. Typically, if you want the look of real wood, you’ll need kitchen cabinet refacing. It’s hard to switch from a dark to a lighter wood stain, and it’s tricky to match stain if it goes with a different kind and color of wood than what you have. But if your goal is to paint the cabinets, you can refinish rather than reface them.

What Is Refinishing?

Again, kitchen cabinet refacing means placing new material on your current frames and switching out drawer fronts and doors. Refinishing means putting a new finish on the visible parts of your cabinets. This may be a good, cost-effective choice if your cabinets are mostly free of damage.


Typically, it’s not possible to stain the material beneath solid color cabinets. Cabinetmakers aren’t inclined to cover high-quality wood with an opaque stain. The doors of most white cabinets are made of medium-density fiberboard, which is not real wood and therefore can’t be given the appearance of wood using a stain. When real wood is used to make doors for solid color cabinets, it’s likely a paint-grade wood and not meant for wood stain.

Refinishing oak cabinets with a solid color paint is generally not recommended, since the wood grain may be visible through the paint. However, an experienced refinisher may be able to hide the grain. Ask them to refinish one of your cabinet doors to make sure the grain doesn’t show through.

Changing Hardware

If your cabinets are mostly free of damage, but you want a more dramatic change than just applying a different color, you may want to replace your hardware, including drawer pulls, door handles, and hinges. You may also want to replace these parts if they look dated. If you’re in the process of refinishing, your cabinets are already disassembled. This means it’s a good time to make hardware changes. New hardware can improve the look and feel of your kitchen as effectively as a new color for the cabinet doors. You may also want to consider new cabinet accessories that you’ll enjoy having in the kitchen, such as sliding spice racks, hangers for pots and pans, and soft-close drawers.

Benefits of Refacing and Refinishing

  • They cost half the price of replacing kitchen cabinets.
  • There is less time involved, as the work can often be done in under a week.
  • Your kitchen is still functional during the refacing or refinishing.
  • These are greener options than replacing cabinets since there’s nothing to throw away.

What is the Process of Installation?

For best results, you’ll need to hire a professional to reface or refinish your cabinets. They will need measurements in order to figure out the amount of veneer or paint needed, accurate sizes for doors and the fronts of drawers, and the type and amount of hardware required. You may need to wait a week or two for orders of materials to arrive.

Once the installer has all materials, they’ll take off your cabinet drawer fronts and doors, wash and sand the cabinet frames, and repair damaged areas that might show through the veneer or paint. They will apply the veneer or paint to visible surfaces, attach the refaced or refinished doors and drawer fronts, and install the hardware.

If you don’t want the expense and hassle of a complete kitchen remodel, refacing or refinishing your cabinets are affordable, time-saving options. Call our team today to find out how to get started on your new kitchen look.

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