Kitchen Cabinet Options: Install, Reface or Refinish

May 12, 2020

Editor’s Note: It’s no doubt that kitchen renovation is among ImproveNet’s most popular projects. Upgrading feature like cabinetry, countertops and appliances is essential to have a modern, chic kitchen. If you’re researching how to give your kitchen cabinets a new look, you’ve found the right place. We’re bringing this article back out of the archives again to share our top tips on how to determine if you should install new cabinets, reface existing kitchen cabinets or refinish them. Take a look.

Kitchen cabinets should make a splash in every home. Given that kitchen remodeling takes priority over almost any other renovation project, it can be argued that kitchen cabinets are perhaps the most recognizable features of your home. Unlike other items in your home, you have numerous options when it comes to renovating kitchen cabinets: You can replace your cabinets, you can reface them with new exteriors or you can refinish them by sanding and adding a new coat of paint. 

Each tactic has its pros and cons. Understanding each tactic will not only save you money but ensure that you are generating the greatest possible value for your remodeled kitchen.

Are you ready for a kitchen cabinet upgrade? Contact a kitchen remodeling contractor today and get quotes from pros in your area, for free.

Green Countertops

Installing Kitchen Cabinets

What Is It? 

Installing kitchen cabinets is rather simple when compared to cabinet refacing or refinishing. Believe it or not, installing new cabinets does not only apply to new homeowners. If you want to completely change the look, layout or feel of your current kitchen, you will have to install new kitchen cabinetry.

If existing cabinetry is in place, then it must first be removed. While it’s certainly possible for DIY-savvy homeowners to remove kitchen cabinets themselves, this can be a labor-intensive job that might be better left to a professional. Experienced carpenters can remove cabinets without damaging the walls, which will end up saving money in the long run.

Get connected with a kitchen cabinet contractor in your area today. 

Cabinet Installation Cost

When it comes to the overall price of installing kitchen cabinets, one of the biggest determining factors will be whether the cabinets are already made or customized to fit the exact decor and size of your kitchen. Customization does come with a price tag.  A general rule of thumb is to determine how many linear feet of cabinetry your kitchen requires. Then, multiply that number by $100 for basic cabinets, $200 for mid-range cabinets and $300 for upscale cabinets.

Remember, you must also account for the actual installation. After having your kitchen cabinets picked out (or made), purchased and delivered to the home, professionals can install them safely and securely. The average cost of installation is $1,834, but this will depend on how quickly the project needs to be completed.

Granite Countertop Colors

Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

What Is It?

Refacing kitchen cabinets is exactly what it sounds like. You are completely replacing the doors and drawer faces (and handles). Additionally, cabinet refacing also entails covering the existing cabinet boxes or outlines with a thin layer veneer.

While cabinet refacing can’t correct a poorly designed space the way a renovation can, it can update the kitchen’s appearance to suit the taste of the home’s current owner. Usually, this type of project can be completed in less than a week’s time and without forcing those living in the home to stop using the kitchen.  

Cabinet Refacing Options

A wealth of options is available for kitchen cabinet refacing. Choosing rigid thermofoil, or RTF, doors is perhaps the least expensive option. RTF uses fiberboard coated by a tough vinyl film. It’s available in a wide variety of solid colors, textures and patterns. Plastic laminate is another trusted option. Generally, it’s slightly more expensive than RTF, but it’s also versatile and durable. The most expensive option is solid wood doors and drawer fronts. This provides a more customized look. While solid wood costs more, it has the authentic appearance that some homeowners demand.

Cabinet Refacing Cost

In the broadest terms, refacing costs about half of what it would cost to completely replace kitchen cabinetry. The average kitchen is about 10 feet by 12 feet and features approximately 30 linear feet of cabinetry. Frequently, contractors will quote estimates based on the linear foot. Using basic materials in most markets, the price for material and installation will be between $2,400 and $3,200. Upgrade to slightly better materials, and the cost to reface kitchen cabinets will likely range between $3,000 and $4,000. Finally, customized, solid-wood refacing may cost as little as $3,700 and as much as $5,000. 

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

What Is It? 

Refinishing kitchen cabinets usually consists of glazing, staining, sanding, repainting or any combination of the three. Where cabinet refacing is bringing in new materials, cabinet refinishing is updating your current kitchen cabinets. If you are tackling a refinish job yourself, experience with stripping, minor cosmetic repair and staining or painting will greatly help. If not, we highly recommend hiring a professional.

Cabinet Refinishing Options 

Refinishing kitchen cabinets can be done in a variety of ways. Wood cabinets may be restored with a fresh application of stain, either in the same shade as the original or something deeper for a bold look. Paint is another option that can brighten up old kitchens. When the refinishing job is done right, it will give the kitchen a whole new look and feel.

Cabinet Refinishing Cost

Cabinet refinishing is the cheapest of all three options. It is also the easiest DIY project for homeowners, so additional savings can be attributed as well. The cost of refinishing falls somewhere in the $400-$900 range depending on location and your DIY experience. If you are looking to update your kitchen on a tight budget, refinishing is your best option.


The kitchen is the most popular room to remodel and your kitchen cabinets will play a key role in its new design and layout. Many homeowners feel new cabinets are always necessary, but depending on your goals and budget, refacing or refinishing may be the better solution.

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