Would you buy a new house simply because your front door isn’t working well? What about purchasing a new car just because your existing car has peeling paint? Probably not. But, sometimes, that’s how people look at a kitchen upgrade. Even though the kitchen cabinets fit well in the space and have quality interiors, they might be outdated or have doors or faces in poor condition. But you can save a lot of money in your kitchen remodel if you consider the option of kitchen cabinet refacing; in fact, the savings can be about 50% of what it would cost to replace your cabinetry altogether. (Other budget-friendly options, of course, include finding used kitchen cabinets and cheap kitchen cabinets.)
What is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing?
Kitchen cabinet refacing is what gives your kitchen a surface, almost cosmetic, upgrade. It’s like putting “new clothes” on your kitchen cabinetry, or even a new skin. (Interesting fact: Some industry pros actually refer to the veneer as the “skin,” and the cabinet box itself is the “carcass.”) Kitchen cabinet refacing is done with, and even made possible because of, wood veneer.
Wood veneer is essentially a very thin slice of hardwood that is placed over other less expensive wood products, such as plywood, or even cosmetically damaged cabinets. Most popular hardwoods, including ash, birch, hickory, mahogany, maple, oak, walnut, and more are available as veneers.
Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Process
So, what, exactly, are you signing up for with kitchen cabinet refacing? Just how extensive is the process itself? Essentially, there are three primary steps in kitchen cabinet refacing, which the surfacing people will take your kitchen cabinets through: (1) Removing and replacing drawers and doors. (2) Skinning the remaining cabinet boxes. (3) Updating hardware and accessories (perhaps optional). We’ll take a closer look at this process below:
1. Removing and replacing drawers and doors.
Before any real change can be made and your kitchen cabinets, they need to be removed. This includes not only the faces of your kitchen cupboards, but also your drawer fronts. Once removed, these will be replaced with the new version, in whatever color/style/material that you have chosen. The drawers themselves will stay intact; only the face will be removed and replaced.
2. Skinning the remaining cabinet boxes.
The old cabinet drawers and doors have been removed and replaced, but the new faces aren’t going to be installed right back onto the old cabinet boxes without a little facelift on those first. This will help to update the look of the entire kitchen cabinet, as well as hide those cosmetic blemishes or damage.
- The front sides of the cabinet boxes are going to be given new “skins” themselves with a veneering of either wood or RTF (melamine-based stuff).
- The sides of the cabinet boxes are going to be skinned with either laminate or wood veneer.
- Note: In general, older kitchen cabinets that are in good working order tend to be stronger and sturdier than even new kitchen cabinets, so refacing these cabinets is an excellent choice.
3. Updating hardware and accessories.
This step may or may not be optional, depending on (a) your preferences and tastes, and/or (b) the compatibility of your new faces with the old hardware or accessories. Assuming the old hardware won’t work with the refaced kitchen cabinets, then new hardware such as handles, knobs, or pulls will be installed, along with new hinges. Other optional add-ons might include things such as countertops, moldings/trim, glass, custom drawer pull-outs, etc.
As a general rule, the kitchen cabinet refacing process takes about three days. Of course, this depends on the size of your kitchen, the number and complexity of your kitchen cabinetry, etc. But it’s a good guideline for an average work schedule. The first day will involve Step 1 and part of Step 2 of the Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Process. The second day will likely involve a continuation of Step 2, with more veneering. The third day generally involves finishing up Step 2 and moving onto Step 3 and making final adjustments. Add-ons will increase this timeline, of course.