When to Reface vs. When to Install New Cabinets

You’ll find that numerous aspects go into a kitchen remodeling job, but nothing impacts the overall quality and style of your new kitchen design quite like the cabinets. This essential part of your kitchen offers two primary options for how you want to handle the upgrade. You can either reface them or replace them entirely. Both options have plenty of benefits and downsides, so you’ll need to think about your unique needs to determine the best path forward. Here’s everything you need to know about when to reface vs. when to do new cabinets.

What is Refacing and Replacing?

Before you can determine which option is best for your kitchen, you’ll have to consider exactly what each entails. Refacing involves redoing the doors and drawers of your cabinets along with any front and side panels if necessary. The process begins by removing all the doors and drawers. Then a wood or veneer is applied to the cabinet boxes and new doors and drawer fronts are secured. This provides a completely refreshed look, without changing the integrity of the cabinet or layout.

Replacing involves a much more drastic change to your cabinet design, as the entire structure is replaced. This is typically required when you want to change the fundamental layout of your cabinets. That’s the primary difference. With refacing, your cabinet layout remains mostly the same, with minor adjustments if necessary. With a replacement, you’re free to change the layout as you see fit.

When to Reface Your Cabinets

If you’re looking to just reface your cabinets, you may find yourself in the perfect position to do so depending on what you’re looking to do with your kitchen. Above all else, refacing may be the best option if you’re looking to limit your budget as much as possible. Refacing is typically more affordable than replacing because you are reusing your existing cabinet boxes, so keep that in mind before you finalize any design decisions.

You’ll find far more than just budgetary considerations when choosing what to do with your cabinets, however, as functionality matters as well. If your cabinets’ placement is generally satisfactory for your kitchen design, there’s really no reason to change them. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Similarly, you may want to consider refacing if the inside and outside of your cabinets are in relatively good condition. Doors and drawers can be an exception to this, as they can easily be replaced in a refacing without having to replace the entire box of the cabinet.

When to Replace Your Cabinets

Replacing your cabinets is the best option for two primary scenarios. First, you’ll want to replace your cabinets when the integrity of the cabinet boxes has been compromised, and second, you’ll want to replace them when you’re looking to change the orientation of your cabinet space significantly. Poor cabinet design often needs to be changed entirely, such as when you have trouble accessing the back of a cabinet or the doors open into each other.

There are several signs you can look out for when it comes to catching serious disrepair with your cabinets. Cracks are the most obvious problem to look for, but you should also keep an eye out for any peeling, bubbling or delamination on the exterior. Water damage to cabinets is also something that is a very common reason people replace their kitchen cabinets. Any of these signs indicate that it’s probably best for you to replace the cabinet boxes even if you don’t want to change the layout of your cabinets.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Refacing

If you decide to reface your cabinets, there are several advantages and disadvantages to be aware of. These are especially important to consider if the factors in your kitchen can lend themselves to either refacing or replacing. One of the most prominent advantages is that refacing is much more affordable. For the most part, refacing can be as much as 50% less than the cost of replacing your cabinets entirely. Additionally, you’ll find that refacing your cabinets is much more eco-friendly because there isn’t as much wasted material.

The disadvantages of refacing typically manifest when it comes to convenience. Refacing cabinets is much more difficult than replacing cabinets. Typically, refacing all your cabinets will take about two to four days depending on how many cabinets you have, while replacing them can be done in a day or two. Additionally, refacing requires more specialized techniques that even some accomplished DIY people may not have fully mastered. It’s always best to hire a professional, and that can offset the cost savings you might enjoy compared with replacing in some cases.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Replacing

Replacing cabinets is a little more convenient from an installation perspective. The most difficult aspect of installing new cabinets is having the brute strength to demolish the existing cabinets and lift the new cabinetry into place. It can also be challenging to start with a clean slate because the options are endless. That is both an advantage and disadvantage of new cabinetry. When you go with new cabinetry, you need to make sure you consider every aspect of the space and measurements become extremely important. For example, you don’t want to have cabinet doors bumping into each other or empty corners you can’t reach. It’s also essential to emphasize the leveling of cabinets to ensure they function properly. You can even opt for ready-to-assemble cabinets to seriously cut down on costs.

While replacing cabinets is certainly convenient in terms of design freedom and level of difficulty, there are some disadvantages to keep in mind. The most obvious is cost. Replacing cabinets will require a lot more materials to get the job done properly. Even if labor costs are reduced, the sheer amount of supplies can push your budget to its limits. Replacing cabinets isn’t exactly eco-friendly either. While it may be a necessity if the cabinet boxes you have now are in bad shape, replacing perfectly good cabinet boxes to rearrange the design of your kitchen can lead to boxes and hardware getting landfilled. Don’t forget to consider recycling or donating if you do opt for replacement over refacing.

Optimize Your Cabinets with Kitchen Solvers

Now that you know when to reface vs. when to go with new cabinets, it’s time to find a place for all your cabinet solutions. At Kitchen Solvers, we can work with your design and budget restrictions to help you craft the kitchen of your dreams. We offer a wide variety of cabinet solutions including refacing and replacement, so you can find quality and convenience no matter which option you choose. Oftentimes, we even do a hybrid situation where we reface what we can to cut down on cost, but add new cabinetry where we need to to improve functionality. Contact us today to get started!

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