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Cabinet Refacing vs. Painting: What to Consider

Updated
8/11/23
cabinet refacing
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Are you considering giving your cabinets a makeover but aren't sure whether to go for cabinet refacing or painting? In this blog post, our experts at Kitchen Cabinet Guys will explore the options of cabinet refacing and painting so you understand what factors to consider when making this decision.

We'll dive into the benefits and considerations of each method and discuss specific materials such as 3D laminate. By the end, we're hoping you'll have a clearer understanding of whether cabinet refacing vs. painting is the right choice for your kitchen renovation project. Let's get started.

What Is Cabinet Refacing?

Cabinet refacing involves replacing the doors, hardware, and exterior surfaces of existing cabinets rather than replacing the entire cabinet box and interior framing. Refacing cabinets is a more affordable option compared to full cabinet replacement. Cabinet refacing provides a kitchen with a fresh, updated look with custom door styles and finishes. It's a budget-friendly way to transform the style and color of your existing cabinets without a major renovation.

Cabinet Refacing Process

The cabinet refacing process involves removing old doors and drawer fronts before replacing them with new components to give cabinets a fresh look. To reduce costs, existing cabinet boxes and interior frames are left in place. Old surfaces are prepared and covered with new veneer panels to hide flaws and damage. New doors and drawer fronts are installed, along with any updated hardware like knobs, pulls, or hinges. To add customization and a built-in appearance, trim pieces may be added. Refacing provides a kitchen facelift by altering cabinet surfaces, doors, and hardware without removing the underlying boxes.

Cabinet Refacing Options

Cabinet Refacing Options

Another cost-effective way to transform the look of your cabinets includes cabinet refacing options. 3D laminate provides a durable and low-maintenance solution, with a wide range of colors and finishes available. Additionally, cabinet door replacement allows for further customization and allows you to achieve the desired style and functionality for your space.

Thermofoil Cabinet Refacing

Thermofoil is a popular, affordable material for refacing worn cabinets. It's a thin plastic film coated with a woodgrain pattern that's bonded to existing cabinet frames and doors. Thermofoil cabinet refacing provides a quick facelift for outdated cabinets by covering surface flaws with durable, decorative film. This is an inexpensive way to give your cabinets a fresh, modern appearance without full cabinet replacement, but is somewhat behind the times when compared with the next option.

3D Laminate Cabinet Refacing

Another option is 3D laminate which offers a realistic woodgrain look for refacing worn cabinets. This material uses photographic prints sealed under a clear coat to mimic natural wood textures. 3D laminate panels and doors can refresh stained or painted cabinets with beautiful new finishes. It uses durable laminate sheets that are wrapped around existing cabinet frames for an affordable makeover. 3D laminate cabinet refacing recreates the aesthetic of wood while hiding flaws and damage through an overlay process.

Cabinet Door Replacement

Replacing cabinet doors can give your kitchen or bathroom a completely new look without the cost of brand-new cabinets. Cabinet door replacement allows you to update the style, color, and finish of your cabinets while keeping the existing cabinet layout intact. Whether you want to switch from outdated styles to modern ones, or from stained cabinets to painted ones, replacing the cabinet doors is a great option for achieving a fresh and customized look in your space.

Pros and Cons of Cabinet Refacing

When it comes to updating cabinets, cabinet refacing offers both advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Cabinet Refacing

  • Cost Savings: Refacing cabinets is generally more affordable than completely replacing them, so it's a budget-friendly option for a kitchen or bathroom remodel.
  • Time Efficiency: Cabinet refacing takes less time compared to a full cabinet replacement. It's a quicker process that won't disrupt your daily life.
  • Change in Appearance: Refacing cabinets allows you to completely transform the look of your space by updating the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware. This gives your kitchen or bathroom a fresh and updated aesthetic.
  • Sustainability: By choosing cabinet refacing, you are minimizing waste by reusing existing cabinet frames. It's an eco-friendly option that reduces the need for new materials.
  • Customization: Cabinet refacing offers flexibility in terms of color, finish, and door styles. You can choose from a wide range of options to match your preferred design taste and style.

Cons of Cabinet Refacing

  • Limited Structural Changes: Cabinet refacing doesn't allow for significant changes to the layout or structure of your cabinets. If you're looking to reconfigure the cabinet layout or make major modifications, refacing may not be the best option.
  • Limited Repair Options: Refacing doesn't address underlying issues with the cabinet frames or structure. If there are significant damages or structural problems, new cabinet doors may be a better solution.
Cabinet Refacing Pros Cabinet Refacing Cons
Offers a wide range of colors and finish options Requires more preparation and labor-intensive process
Can be less expensive than cabinet refacing or replacement May require multiple coats or touch-ups over time
Gives a new and refreshed look May not have the same resale value as new or refaced cabinets
Allows you to reuse and update existing cabinets, reducing waste Can be time-consuming and disrupt daily life during the painting process

What Is Cabinet Painting?

Cabinet painting involves applying new paint or stains to existing cabinet doors and boxes to refresh their appearance. It provides a low-cost cabinet makeover compared to a full replacement. Painting kitchen or bathroom cabinets allows you to update their color and style dramatically without replacing them. Painted cabinets are an affordable way to give worn, dated cabinets a fresh, new look.

Cabinet Painting Process

Painting kitchen cabinets involves carefully preparing the existing cabinet surfaces before applying new stains or paint. The process starts by cleaning cabinets and lightly sanding to help the paint adhere. Any repairs are made to fix damages or flaws. Primers specially formulated for painting cabinets are applied to seal the wood and improve paint adhesion. Typically, two or more coats of cabinet paint or stain are brushed on for full, even coverage and color. To complete the transformation, new cabinet hardware can be installed. Painting upgrades old cabinets at a fraction of the cost of new cabinet installation.

Pros and Cons of Cabinet Painting

Pros and Cons of Cabinet Painting

Painting cabinets is a popular option to give them a fresh and updated look, but it also has its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Cabinet Painting

  • Cost-Effective: Cabinet painting is a more affordable option compared to replacing or refacing cabinets, so it's a budget-friendly choice for a kitchen or bathroom makeover.
  • Design Versatility: Painting cabinets allow for endless color and finish options, so you'll be able to fully customize the look of your space and match it to your preferred design style.
  • Quick Transformation: Cabinet painting is a relatively fast process and causes minimal disruption to your daily life. You'll be able to achieve a new look in a shorter timeframe compared to other remodeling options.

Cons of Cabinet Painting

  • Preparation and Labor: Properly preparing cabinets for painting can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. It involves removing doors, sanding, priming, and applying multiple coats of paint, which can be a tedious process.
  • Durability and Wear: Painted cabinets may be more prone to wear and chipping over time, especially in high-traffic areas such as the kitchen. This could require touch-ups or repainting in the future to maintain the desired appearance.
  • Limited Repair Options: The process of painting cabinets doesn't address underlying structural or functional issues. If there are significant damages or problems with the cabinets, painting may not be ideal.
  • Inconsistent Look: If cabinets have different materials or finishes, it can be difficult to achieve a uniform and consistent look through painting. Variations in wood grain or texture may still be visible after painting.
  • Potential Loss of Wood Grain: Painting cabinets can cover up the natural beauty and texture of wood grain, which some homeowners may prefer to showcase.
Cabinet Painting Pros Cabinet Painting Cons
Offers a wide range of colors and finish options Requires more preparation and labor-intensive process
Can be less expensive than cabinet refacing or replacement May require multiple coats or touch-ups over time
Gives a new and refreshed look May not have the same resale value as new or refaced cabinets
Allows you to reuse and update existing cabinets, reducing waste Can be time-consuming and disrupt daily life during the painting process

Refacing vs. Painting Cabinets - What's the Difference?

Updating your cabinets is a big decision, and the choice between cabinet refacing and painting is a common dilemma. Understanding the key differences between the two can help you make an informed decision.

Easiness

Cabinet refacing and painting differ in terms of the ease of the process. Cabinet refacing generally involves less effort and time compared to cabinet painting. With refacing, the existing cabinet frames and boxes are left intact, and only the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware are replaced or covered with new materials. The process is relatively straightforward and less invasive.

On the other hand, kitchen cabinet painting, particularly for wood cabinets, requires thorough preparation, including sanding and priming, to ensure proper adhesion and a smooth finish. Multiple coats of paint may also be necessary on your kitchen cabinet doors, so the process can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive.

Easier to implement: Cabinet refacing

Cost

When renovating on a budget, the cost of painting kitchen cabinets vs refacing is the key. Painting is more affordable, requiring supplies like primer, paint, and tools for surface prep. Refacing has a higher upfront cost for new 3D laminate materials and professional installation.

However, painted solid color cabinets show flaws while refacing covers blemishes for a seamless facelift. Despite the higher initial investment, refacing can increase durability and save costs long-term. For tight budgets, painting refreshes for less, but refacing provides better value over time.

More Affordable: Tie

Maintenance

Another consideration is the long-term maintenance when choosing to reface cabinets by painting or refacing. Refacing applies new materials like 3D laminate over existing cabinet boxes, creating durable surfaces that require minimal upkeep besides occasional cleaning.

Painted cabinets show wear over time, requiring more frequent touch-ups and full repainting in as little as a few years. The paint on cabinet walls can chip, crack or fade from sunlight exposure or moisture. Refacing provides low-maintenance new finishes while painted cabinets continue to age and will likely need redoing in the future.

Easier to maintain: Refaced cabinets

Customization

Painting allows the selection of any color but shows flaws and offers limited finishes like solid paint or glaze. Refacing provides more options like woodgrains and patterns in quality 3D laminate materials.

New doors and faces modernize the door style. Refacing transforms both cabinet interiors and exteriors for a seamless, integrated look not achievable by painting boxes alone. For significant upgrades in appearance, finish, and style, refacing enables greater customization and versatility versus the limitations of painted cabinets.

More versatile: Cabinet refacing

Aesthetics

When updating kitchen style, the aesthetic appeal of refacing versus painting cabinets makes a big difference. Painting simply applies color to existing finishes, often leaving visible flaws beneath.

Refacing transforms interiors and exteriors by replacing doors, frames, and panels with new 3D laminate. These durable materials create consistent, seamless appearances not achievable by painting. Refacing integrates old boxes with new faces for a harmonious, built-in style.

More appealing: Refaced cabinets

Factors Cabinet Refacing Cabinet Painting
Cost Moderate cost Lower cost in the short term
Time Less time-consuming installation More time-consuming process
Maintenance Durable and long-lasting May require touch-ups over time
Customization High customization options Limited customization options
Ease of Process Relatively easy More effort and labor-intensive
Aesthetics High-quality finish Fresh and updated look
Eco-Friendliness Reuses existing cabinet structure Minimizes waste

Final Thoughts: Transform Your Kitchen Cabinets with Cabinet Refacing

When considering whether to choose cabinet refacing or painting, it's essential to evaluate the pros and cons of each option. While both can offer a fresh look to your cabinets, cabinet refacing, especially with materials like 3D laminate, provides a durable and long-lasting solution.

If you're ready to transform your kitchen cabinets with cabinet refacing, contact the Kitchen Cabinet Guys. Our experts specialize in cabinet refacing projects and will guide you through the process and ensure exceptional results. Contact us today and take the next step toward your dream kitchen today!

FAQs

Is it worth it to reface cabinets?

Yes, refacing cabinets is often worth the investment. It modernizes style and provides long-lasting durability at a fraction of the full replacement cost. Refacing upgrades aesthetics with a seamless new finish.

Does refacing cabinets devalue a home?

No, refacing kitchen cabinets typically doesn't decrease a home's value. Refacing can modernize the look and increase functionality, making the interior more appealing to potential buyers.

Is it cheaper to replace cabinet doors or reface them?

Though replacing doors may seem cheaper upfront, refacing with 3D laminate is often the more cost-effective option long term. By not having to replace existing cabinet and drawer doors, you can save 30-50% on the cost of cabinet refacing. Refacing provides a seamless, durable finish that avoids the ongoing costs of painting or replacing low-quality doors.

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