Refacing Cabinets Vs Painting| What, When, How, And Key Difference




Thinking about making your kitchen look better? You’ve got two main choices: refacing cabinets vs painting them.

Refacing means you change the outside parts, like doors and drawer fronts, to make them look new. Painting is just putting a new color on your current cabinets.

Refacing vs. Painting Cabinets

Refacing Vs. Painting Cabinets

However, when refacing vs. painting cabinets debates come, many factors influence this issue. Each way has its steps, costs, and results for your kitchen. The key difference between refacing cabinets and painting cabinets comes in terms of the following:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Durability
  • Appearance
  • Cabinet layout
  • Other options etc

In today’s guide, we’ll help you see the differences between refacing and painting. So you can choose the best makeover for your kitchen. Let’s get into what sets these two options apart.

Summery of the article is-

  • Refacing cabinets involves replacing the doors and applying new veneer, offering a completely new look.
  • Painting cabinets update the color or finish without changing the structure.
  • Refacing is generally more expensive due to materials and labor, while painting is less expensive, primarily involving the cost of paint and supplies.
  • Refacing takes longer, potentially a few days to a week, while painting is usually quicker and can be done in a few days.

What is the Refacing Cabinet?

Before exploring the guide on refacing cabinets vs painting, you must know what is refacing a kitchen cabinet. Kitchen cabinet refacing means creating a new look for your cabinets. It contains replacing the old doors with new ones.

However, refacing kitchen cabinets is an easy project you can do yourself. If you like the color of your kitchen and want new doors, it’s pretty straightforward.

What is the Refacing Cabinet

But if you’re dreaming of a different color kitchen, things get a bit more complicated. Let’s say your cabinets are maple, but you want a white kitchen.

You’ll need to change the outside part of your cabinets, too. Once you take off the old doors, you can change your cabinet’s exterior color by refacing the cabinet doors.

You might paint them to match the new doors, stick on a laminate veneer, or use a mix of paint, veneer, and new panels to get the look you want.

Benefits of Cabinet Refacing 

The benefits of cabinet refacing are:

  • The Most Bang for Your Buck: Refacing your kitchen cabinets is a smart move. It changes your kitchen’s look without a huge expense. You end up saving money for other things. You won’t have to buy a new table. You can just refinish the table, and it’s good to go.
  • Less Hassle & Inconvenience: Refacing means less mess and trouble at home. It’s quicker than a complete remodel, so you can get back to using your kitchen faster.
  • More Money Left for Other Upgrades: When you save on cabinets, you can spend on other kitchen cabinet updates. Get that appliance you’ve been eyeing, or add a stylish backsplash.
  • Numerous Options to Inspire You: You have many choices with cabinet refacing. There are plenty of styles and colors. All these make it easy to find the perfect match for your kitchen.
  • An Eco-Friendly Investment: Refacing is good for the environment. It keeps your cabinets out of landfills by giving them a new look and reducing waste.
  • Keep Quality Hardwood Boxes Intact: If your cabinets are still strong, keep them. Refacing uses the quality wood you already have, updating its look without wasting it.
  • Prevent Hidden Costs & Surprises: With refacing, you know what you’re getting. It’s unlikely you’ll face unexpected issues or extra costs that can happen with extensive remodels.

What Does Painting Cabinet Mean?

A cabinet painting, also known as a ‘cabinet picture,’ is a small painting. Usually, it’s no bigger than two feet in any direction, and often it’s even smaller.

This term is mainly used for paintings that display full-length figures on a small scale. This is different from paintings that focus on a head or another object almost as big as in real life. Cabinet paintings are known for their detailed and polished finish.

What is the Painting Cabinet

Benefits of Painting Cabinet

The advantages of painting cabinet are:

  • Minimal Disruption: Trying to paint the cabinet doors and cabinet boxes by yourself can be hard when you’re juggling work and family. You should not leave your kitchen in a mess for too long.
  • Cost Savings: Getting professionals to refresh your kitchen cabinetry can make everything look new without the expensive option of a full kitchen renovation. DIY might seem cheaper, but you likely have just basic tools. 
  • So Many Color Choices: Kitchen cabinet painting gives you different color choices. So, you c an give a new look to your kitchen with a new color. 

Refacing Cabinets vs Painting: Key Difference

Cabinet refacing or painting, which one do you need? However, cabinet refacing vs painting cost is a major factor to consider in this case. But, there are other factors also that influence your decision on refinishing cabinets vs painting debate.’

So, check out the differences between refacing cabinets and painting cabinets

FeatureRefacing CabinetsPainting Cabinets
DefinitionReplacing cabinet doors and applying new veneer to cabinet boxes.Sanding and applying new paint to existing doors and boxes.
CostGenerally more expensive due to materials and labor.Less expensive, primarily involves the cost of paint and supplies.
TimeCan take a few days to a week, depending on the size of your kitchen.Usually quicker, can be done in a few days.
AppearanceOffers a completely new look, almost like installing new cabinets.Updates the color or finish, but the cabinet’s structure remains the same.
DurabilityLong-lasting, as it involves new materials.Depends on the quality of paint used and the preparation work.
Impact on Cabinet LayoutDoes not change the layout; keeps the cabinet boxes intact.Keeps the layout and boxes intact; changes are purely cosmetic.
OptionsWide range of materials and styles for new doors and veneers.Limited by the types of paint and finishes that adhere well to cabinetry.
Eco-FriendlinessLess eco-friendly due to new materials being used.More eco-friendly if using low-VOC paints; minimal waste produced.

So, after going through the above discussions, hopefully, now you get the answers to your question, “is it better to paint or reface kitchen cabinets?” Hopefully, the above table also provides a clear insight into the question, “Is it cheaper to paint cabinets or reface them?” Now, take your decision wisely.

What are the Cons of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets?

Refacing your kitchen cabinets is a cheaper way to make your kitchen renovation look new. But it’s not perfect for every situation. However, cabinet refacing before and after comes with some disadvantages as well. Those are:

What are the Cons of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Matching Problems

It can be hard to match new parts with your current cabinets. Even with a fresh coat of paint, the new cabinet frames might not blend well with the old ones, making your kitchen layout seem mismatched.

Structural Issues

Refacing won’t fix any big issues with your cabinets. If there were problems with the cabinet layout before, those problems would still be there. Kitchen cabinet refinishing only changes how things look, not how they work.

Bad for Damaged Cabinets

If your cabinets are really damaged, refacing isn’t the answer. Broken cabinet frames can’t be fixed just with a new coat of paint or new drawer pulls.

No Big Changes

Refacing means your current cabinets stay where they are. So, you can’t change your kitchen layout much. If you wanted a big change, refacing won’t do that.

Risks of Cheap Contractors

Going cheap on the contractor might save money now but could mean trouble later. Poorly fitted cabinet doors or quickly chipping coat of paint will cost you more down the line.

What is the Downside to Painting Kitchen Cabinets?

The disadvantages of painting your kitchen cabinets are:

  • Takes a Lot of Time: Painting your kitchen cabinets can take up a lot of your time and effort.
  • Needs Skills: To make them look good, you need to know what you’re doing.
  • Paint Might Not Last: Paint can chip or scratch easily, meaning more touch-ups later.
  • More Cleaning: You might have to clean painted cabinets more often to keep them looking nice.
  • Could Lower Home Value: Some people prefer natural wood cabinets, so painting them might not be great for selling your home.
  • Messy Work: Get ready for dust from sanding and possible paint spills.
  • Hard to Go Back: Once you paint them, it’s really hard to get back to the original wood look.

Cabinet Refacing vs Painting Cost

In general, the kitchen cabinet refacing average cost is $4,292 to $9,979. Actually, this cost differs based on your home’s kitchen size. On the other hand, if you want to repaint your kitchen cabinet, it will cost nearly $16,00 to &39,00

However, the difference between cabinet refacing vs painting costs are:

AspectCabinet RefacingCabinet Painting
Material CostHigher due to new doors, veneers, and possibly new hardware.Lowerinvolves paint and primer costs only.
Labor CostGenerally higher because it involves more complex work.Lower, as the process is simpler and faster.
DurationTakes longer, which might increase labor costs.Quicker to complete, potentially saving on labor.
Overall CostCan be significantly more than painting, depending on materials and labor.Less expensive, making it a budget-friendly option.
OutcomeLike getting new cabinets, completely changes the look.Refreshes existing cabinets, limited to color changes.
LongevityLasts longer due to new materials being used.Depends on paint quality and application technique.

What are the Signs that the Cabinet Needs Refacing or Painting?

You should refacing or repainting your cabinet for the following reasons:

Cabinet Doors Don’t Work Right

If your kitchen cabinet doors won’t open or close properly or hang wrong, it’s time to refinish old wood cabinets. This fixes or replaces things like handles and hinges. Professionals will get your cabinet doors working smoothly.

Your Cabinets Don’t Fit Your New Kitchen Look

Lots of people update their kitchens every 10 to 15 years. If your cabinet layout looks old next to your new kitchen layout, refinishing is a good idea. This way, your cabinets will match your kitchen’s new style.

Your Cabinets Show Wear and Tear

Cabinets often get small marks or chips from daily use. Experts can repair these marks, making your cabinets look new. If your cabinets are scratched or the coat of paint is worn, refinishing is an affordable fix.

Your Cabinets Are Still Strong

If your cabinets are old but still solid, they’re perfect for refinishing. No need to replace cabinets that function well but just look dated. A fresh coat of paint can change their appearance.

You Like Your Current Kitchen Setup

Replacing cabinets might change your kitchen layout because new ones might not fit the same. If you’re happy with the size and setup of your current cabinets, simply refinishing them is simpler and cheaper. It keeps your kitchen’s layout the same.

Process of Refacing and Painting Cabinets

The process of refacing and painting cabinets is not the same. Both require different methods and costs. The process of each often leads to the debate of refacing cabinets vs painting cost. However, let’sl reveal the cabinet refacing and painting process. Thus, keep going!

Cabinet Refacing Process

The easy ways of refacing your kitchen cabinets are:

Cabinet Refacing Process
  • Remove Doors and Hardware. First up, take off all kitchen cabinet doors, drawers, and fronts. You’ll leave the main part of the drawers alone. If parts like slides and tracks are worn out, remove them too.
  • Reface the Body (Cabinet Boxes) Now, give your cabinet frames a new look. Stick on natural wood veneer or RTF (rigid thermofoil), which is tough and looks great.
  • After that, reface your Cabinet Sides. Also, update the sides of your cabinets with the same material you used on the fronts to keep your cabinet layout consistent.
  • Put On the Hinges. Check the hinges. If they’re still good, use them again. If not, get new ones. Replace any broken interior hardware now.
  • Now, install new doors and drawer fronts. Hang your new doors and drawer fronts. Make sure they fit well with your current cabinets.
  • Also, installing new hardware and changing drawer pulls and knobs is an affordable way to make your cabinets look unique. Pick pieces that match your kitchen layout.
  • Then, add Additional Accessories. Finally, dress up your cabinets with extras. Add crown moulding, glass inserts, lights, or storage accessories like wine racks. These should be your last step after painting or applying a new fresh coat of paint to your cabinets.

Cabinet Painting Process

First off, start by wiping your cleaned, and primed kitchen cabinets down with a damp rag or microfiber cloth. It will help you to get rid of any dust that may have settled.

Cabinet Painting Process
  • Before you add paint’s fresh coat to your kitchen cabinetry, make sure to clean it off with a wet cloth. This gets rid of dust and is a key step in kitchen cabinet refinishing.
  • However, for painting cabinets, use durable paint because your kitchens get messy. Choose an ideal painting for your busy kitchen layout.
  • You can pick any finish you like—glossy or matte. It depends on how you want your cabinet layout to look. You don’t need to add any clear coat on top. If you’re worried about durability, just apply another coat of paint.
  • Applying paint with a sprayer can give your kitchen cabinet doors and cabinet frames a smooth look. Make sure the paint is completely dry before you put the cabinets back. Check the paint can for how long this takes, usually between one to eight hours.

This process is a good way to update your current cabinets without the high average cost of a full kitchen renovation. It’s an effective method to give your kitchen a new look, focusing on kitchen cabinetry to refresh the space.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is it cheaper to replace kitchen cabinet doors or paint them?

Painting current cabinets is usually cheaper than replacing kitchen cabinet doors. The cost of paint and primer is less than new doors. Thus, painting has become a more affordable option to refresh your kitchen.

How long does cabinet refacing last?

Cabinet refacing can keep your kitchen looking nice for 8 to 15 years. However, the lifespan depends on the material’s quality and workmanship. Choose durable materials for a long-lasting update.

What are the problems with refacing kitchen cabinets?

Matching new doors with current cabinets can be challenging in cabinet restoration and refacing. It doesn’t fix structural problems or change the kitchen layout. Also, the average cost may be higher than expected. Cabinet refinishing updates look but not structural issues.

Final Note

Now that you know the key points about refacing cabinets vs painting, making a choice should be more accessible. Refacing gives your kitchen a whole new look by changing parts of your cabinets. On the other hand, painting updates the color of what you already have.

Both ways can make your kitchen feel new again. We hope this guide has cleared things up for you. Did it help you decide how to update your kitchen cabinets? Let us know through your comments!

Richard Journey

Written by

Richard Journey

Meet Richard Journey, the Antique Furniture Maestro. With a Fine Arts degree in Furniture Restoration and Conservation, he’s a guardian of historical craftsmanship. His accolades include the Golden Chisel Award, and he’s your guide to discovering and restoring antique treasures.

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