When kitchen cabinets are scratched, beat up, or need a refresh, it’s time for an upgrade.

There are many ways to change the appearance of cabinets in a kitchen or bathroom, including refacing or refinishing the cabinets or even replacing them entirely. Each of these three methods has pros and cons that any contractor or homeowner needs to consider before deciding which alternative is best for your specific project.


Refacing vs. Refinishing vs. Replacing Cabinets

If your kitchen cabinets are damaged, have cosmetic imperfections, or simply need a facelift, consider an upgrade by refacing, refinishing, or replacing them.


cabinet refinishing / refacingCabinet Refacing

The cabinet refacing process involves removing the front-facing parts of your cabinets and replacing them with new ones.
While the cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware (including drawer pulls and cabinet hinges) are removed, the rest of the kitchen cabinets stay in place. Then, after you replace the missing parts, you apply a new veneer to the surfaces of your cabinets to match the new pieces.


Cabinet refacing may also include replacing pieces of your kitchen cabinets such as side panels or molding to help create a uniform look in your kitchen.

Pros & Cons of Cabinet Refacing:

Pros of cabinet refacing:
Cons of cabinet refacing:
• Eliminate blemishes to cabinet doors

• A variety of colors and finishes

• Extends the life of your cabinets

• Changes the look of your kitchen without the cost
of replacement

• Insides of cabinets are not refaced

• Cannot change the layout of the cabinets

• Existing cabinet framework must be in good shape

• More expensive than refinishing


Cost of Cabinet Refacing

Refacing kitchen cabinets is less expensive than replacing them altogether but more expensive than refinishing the cabinets instead. Cabinet refacing projects can cost between $4,000 and $10,000, depending on the size of your kitchen, how many cabinets you are refacing, and the type of replacement doors and drawer fronts you choose. Expect to pay anywhere from $90 to $450 per square foot.



Cabinet refinishingCabinet Refinishing

Refinishing is an excellent option when kitchen cabinets are in good shape. The process involves sanding down or chemically stripping the existing finish from the cabinet doors, applying new stain or paint, and making them look like new again.

With cabinet refinishing, no parts of the kitchen cabinets are replaced. Instead, you keep all the components of your existing cabinetry and simply change their appearance.


Pros & Cons of Cabinet Refinishing:

Pros of cabinet refinishing:
Cons of cabinet refinishing:
• Fully customizable look

• A variety of colors and finishes

• Easily hide minor wear and tear or other small imperfections

• Most affordable option for upgrading kitchen cabinets

• Quicker than a refacing or replacing cabinet project

• Some cabinet materials (laminate, thermofoil, etc.)cannot be

• Overall layout or design of the kitchen does not change

• Existing cabinet framework must be in good shape

• Does not fix significant damage or major dents


Cost of Cabinet Refinishing

Refinishing cabinets is generally less expensive than refacing or replacing them. A kitchen cabinet refinishing project can cost as low as $1,500 or up to about $4,000, averaging between $4 and $10 per square foot.



kitchen remodel consultCabinet Replacement

Replacing your kitchen cabinets is a gut job. Contractors will remove your cabinets and drawers, including the framework, and install entirely new cabinets, doors, drawers, boxes, and hardware—resulting in an entirely new kitchen.

If there is significant damage, such as signs of mold, warped wood, or broken doors, replacement may be the best (and only) way to revamp your kitchen cabinets.


Pros & Cons of Cabinet Replacement:

Pros of cabinet replacement:
Cons of cabinet replacement:
• Better resale value

• Can change styles or restructure the kitchen layout

• Easy to add additional storage or cooking space if desired

• Most expensive option• Disposes of potentially functional cabinets and frames

• Significant disruption to everyday life during installation

• Less sustainable than other options


Cost of Cabinet Replacement

The cost of replacing kitchen cabinets is considerably higher than refacing or refinishing them. Projects can range from $10,000 to $30,000 or higher, depending on the type of cabinets you want to install. Plan to spend at least $100 per square foot for a complete cabinet replacement.


Is It Better to Refinish or Reface Kitchen Cabinets?

If your cabinets are in good condition and you like how they are oriented in your kitchen, it’s better to refinish them.Cabinet refinishing is the cheaper option, and it’s a great way to give your kitchen a fresh new look without the hassle and expense of a renovation.

How Much Does It Cost to Have Kitchen Cabinets Refinished?

Refinishing your kitchen cabinets is the most affordable way to upgrade them. While the circumstances of the project will affect the bottom line, in general, refinishing cabinets costs about 60% of the cost of refacing them and is a much less expensive option than replacement.

An experienced kitchen refinisher will be able to give you an accurate project estimate.

How Many Times Can You Refinish Cabinets?

Cabinets must be in good condition to withstand the refinishing process. If your kitchen or bathroom cabinets are free of significant damage, they can continue to be refinished. Most cabinets can tolerate three or more cycles of refinishing before the wear down.

How Often Should You Replace Kitchen Cabinets?

Most kitchen cabinets can last between 5 and 15 years, with some of the higher quality models lasting up to 50 years. However, the quality of the cabinets you purchase as well as how frequently you use them will greatly impact their lifespan.

Kitchen cabinets need to be replaced when they show a change in appearance or function. At the same time, many homeowners choose to replace their cabinets when they want an upgrade.

Instead of replacing your kitchen cabinets, consider refinishing them to save money and create a whole new look for your kitchen.

NAPCO Training: Learn to Refinish Cabinets (& So Much More)

Are you ready to explore a career in kitchen and bath refinishing?

At NAPCO, our goal is to help kitchen and bath refinishers find new customers, get more leads, and grow their business. Our training program offers sessions for both new and experienced refinishers led by highly experienced trainers. We also provide refinishers with ongoing marketing and business support—from an online portal where you can access customized marketing materials to on-call refinishers who can assist you with any problems you experience on the job. We are also proud to offer a customer loyalty program that helps refinishers stay on budget and save even more on top-tier refinishing materials.