Cabinet Refacing vs. Refinishing: Key Differences

May 27, 2024

Key Highlights

  • Replace doors and drawer fronts, add new veneer or material to match the new ones.
  • Cabinet refinishing: strip existing finish, stain or paint doors in a new color.
  • Both options offer a cost-effective way to update kitchens.
  • Refacing allows for more customization and design changes.
  • Refacing costs more than refinishing, but less than a full replacement.
  • Both options give the kitchen a fresh, updated look, improving the appearance of the space.


Are your kitchen cupboards old? Do you want to update their appearance? You might think about refacing or refinishing them.

These methods are cheaper than buying new cabinets. Now, what sets them apart?

This blog will delve into their processes, materials, costs, and benefits. This information will aid in choosing the best option for your kitchen project.

You wish to change the style or freshen the look. Refacing or refinishing can transform your kitchen.

Understanding Cabinet Refacing and Refinishing

It would be advisable to know the difference between refinishing and refacing of cabinets. Consider repainting them or changing the doors and drawer fronts to completely transform your cabinets.

You will also have to make new ones if they are worn out, or paint the old ones again. It is recommended to purchase newly cut veneer or material and put them carefully on everything match.

This allows a full change in the look of your cabinets. You can change the style, color, and design. But, cabinet refinishing involves removing the existing finish from the cabinet doors.

Then, you stain or paint them in a new color. This process focuses on giving your cabinets a fresh look. It does so without changing their design or layout.

Defining Cabinet Refacing

Replace existing cabinet doors and drawer fronts as part of the cabinet refacing procedure. You also add new veneer or material to the cabinet boxes.

This allows for a full transformation of your cabinets. You can do it without needing to replace the whole cabinet. We’ve selected the material for the new cabinet boxes.

It matches the style and design of the new doors. This creates a cohesive and updated look for your kitchen.

Refacing cabinets is great for homeowners. They want to change the cabinets’ look while keeping the existing structure.

It is easy to change the appearance of your kitchen and renovate it for lesser and not even have to layout major construction.

Defining Cabinet Refinishing

Refinishing cabinets involves stripping off the old finish from the doors.

This process focuses on refreshing the appearance of your cabinets. It does this by changing their color or finish.

Refinishing cabinets is great for homeowners. They like the layout and design of their cabinets but want to update their look.

During refinishing, the existing doors are carefully prepared. The wood is enhanced or the desired hue is achieved by painting or staining the doors.

Refinishing g of cabinets is one way of making them new because it will not be as costly as purchasing new ones.

Steps Involved in Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing involves many steps. They change the look of your cabinets. Here are the steps involved in cabinet refacing:

  • Take off the current drawer and door fronts.
  • Select new drawer fronts and doors based on personal style.
  • Sand down the cabinet boxes until they are smooth to the touch and give them a thorough cleaning.
  • Give your cabinet boxes a facelift. Do this by slapping on fresh veneer or material that matches the new doors.
  • Put in the new doors and drawer fronts, and you’re all done with the cabinet makeover!

During cabinet refacing, consider your kitchen’s layout. Make sure the new doors and drawer fronts fit well.

To make sure the doors look identical and smooth, this can involve resizing them. Your cabinets can look different if you reface them. It keeps your kitchen’s layout and structure.

Materials Used for Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing uses materials. It transforms the look of your cabinets. Here are some of the materials used in cabinet refacing:

  • New doors and drawer fronts can be made from MDF, laminate or solid deals in addition to the other products.
  • New door and drawer fronts enhance their look. Veneer is thin wood glued to cabinet boxes. Laminate is a synthetic coating.
  • Cabinet refacing includes updating the hardware. This involves changing handles and knobs to match the new doors and drawer fronts. It’s giving your cabinets a fresh look.
  • You can add molding or trim as decorative accents. They boost your cabinets’ appeal.

Choose the right materials and door style for the look you want. You can then transform cabinet appearances through refacing.

Steps Involved in Cabinet Refinishing

Refinishing cabinets involves many steps. They refresh the look of your cabinets. Here are the steps involved in cabinet refinishing:

  • Take off the old doors and drawers.
  • Strip the old finish off by sanding, keen on using a chemical stripper.
  • Try to paint the color into the doors and drawer fronts, you may decide to use a stain or a paint of your preferable color.
  • Build one layer upon another of the stain or paint to achieve the right shade and a glossy or matte look you desire.
  • Replace all the doors and drawer fronts now. Then, you are through with redecorating the cabinet.

During cabinet refinishing, you must prepare the doors and drawers. This means removing the old finish.

This can be done through sanding or using a chemical remover. After applying the stain or paint, you may need many coats.

This is to get the color and finish you want. Refinishing cabinets lets you refresh their look. You can do this without replacing them.

Materials and Techniques for Cabinet Refinishing

Refinishing cabinets uses materials and techniques. They refresh the look of your cabinets. Here are some of the materials and techniques used in cabinet refinishing:

  • Sanding removes the old finish. It makes a smooth surface for the new stain or paint.
  • Stain enhances wood cabinet beauty and adds a rich color. Many coats can be applied to get the right color and finish.
  • Paint hides wood grain and adds color. Applying many coats ensures a smooth finish.
  • Cabinet finishes also include matte, satin, semi-gloss, and the high-gloss. You choose based on the desired look and shine.
  • New color options allow you to match your desired look. As for the colors available for selection, it is almost impossible to list them all. It is useful in helping you meet the desired appearance or style as desired.

Use the right materials and methods. They will refresh your cabinets.

Comparing Costs: Refacing vs. Refinishing

When comparing cabinet refacing and refinishing, you must compare their costs. Both options are cheaper than a full cabinet replacement. However, they have different costs.

Refacing cabinets is pricier than refinishing. It involves replacing the doors and drawer fronts. It also requires adding new veneer or material to the cabinet boxes.

Cabinet refinishing is different. It involves the cost of materials, such as stain or paint. Compare the costs of both options. Then, choose the one that fits your budget and goals best.

Average Cost of Cabinet Refacing

The cost of performing a cabinet refacing is not fixed since there are factors that affect its pricing. It may cost as low as $4,000 and as high as $9,500 depending on the size of the kitchen and the materials on the cabinets that are going to be re-faced.

This cost includes replacing the doors and drawers. It also includes adding new veneer or material to the cabinet boxes. Added costs may include new hardware, like handles and knobs, if desired.

Refacing costs more than refinishing. However, it updates cabinet appearances and maintains their condition.

Average Cost of Cabinet Refinishing

Cabinet refinishing usually costs less than refacing. Size and materials affect the price. It can cost between $1,200 and $5,000.

This cost includes stripping the old finish. It also includes applying stain or paint and any needed touch-ups or repairs. Refinishing cabinets usually costs less. This is because it does not include replacing the doors and drawer fronts.

Refinishing cabinets takes time and effort. The cost depends on the work needed. Hiring an expert might save you money in the end.

Pros and Cons of Cabinet Refacing

There are advantages as well as drawbacks that come with the refacing of cabinets. Let’s now explore them.


  • It allows for a complete change.
  • You can change the style, design, and color of your cabinets.
  • It provides a cheaper option. It is compared to buying a whole new cabinet.
  • It can be done faster than other remodeling options.


  • It costs more than refinishing cabinets.
  • Does not fix major structural issues or damage to cabinets.
  • Limited customization options compared to full cabinet replacement.
  • May must professional help for a seamless and high-quality result.

Think about the good and bad sides of cabinet refacing. If so, then you can determine whether it can be used in your kitchen remodel project.

Benefits of Choosing Cabinet Refacing

Kitchen refacing is ideal to repair a kitchen and give it the facelift that it needs without having to replace all the cabinets. Here the best thing you can do is to change the door as well as the drawer fronts.

This will change how your cabinets look. You can do this without needing a full replacement. It’s if the layout and functionality of your current cabinets still work for you.

Refacing of cabinet is one of them, which is considered to be an effective and inexpensive way of renovating a kitchen. It gives a fresh look without spending much.

Compared to replacing cabinets, refacing is quicker and less inconvenient. For homeowners looking to cut downtime in the kitchen, this is perfect.

Potential Drawbacks of Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing has many benefits. However, it’s important to think about its drawbacks. Do this before deciding.

One main drawback is that refacing doesn’t work for cabinets in bad condition. They need significant repairs.

Another drawback is that refacing isn’t a DIY-friendly project for most homeowners. It needs special tools and skills.

They are needed to measure, remove, and install the new doors and fronts. It’s advisable to hire an expert for a flawless high-quality outcome.

Reface your cabinets if you’re keeping the same layout. Otherwise, replace them.

Pros and Cons of Cabinet Refinishing

Homeowners want to update their kitchen cabinets without replacing them. So, they choose cabinet refinishing. Here are some of the pros and cons of cabinet refinishing:


  • One of the many ways that you can bring a change to the look of your kitchen is to paint it and this is very cost effective.
  • A better option than a complete cabinet replacement as it takes lesser time and does not cause too many interruptions to the learning process.


  • Only suitable for wood cabinets that are in good condition.
  • Not recommended for cabinets made of laminate or thermofoil materials.
  • May not be able to fix major dents or damages.
  • Does not offer the option to change the design or layout of your kitchen cabinets.

Yet, it is only recommended for wood cabinets in good condition and may not be able to fix it.

Advantages of Cabinet Refinishing

Refinishing cabinets has many benefits. It’s able to help when updating your kitchen. One of the main advantages is the ability to achieve a fresh look.

This can happen without needing a full replacement. Refinishing your cabinet refers to the process of painting or staining the cabinets in a new color thereby changing their appearance.

However, refinishing is rather beneficial because it is not extremely expensive. This is what draws in homeowners on a tight budget.

Also, refinishing is quicker than other options. It lets you enjoy your updated cabinets sooner.

Limitations of Cabinet Refinishing

There are advantages to refinishing cabinets, but there are also disadvantages to this process.

Consequently, it is better not to use cabinets that are heavily worn or damaged for this.

However, if your cabinets are very dilapidated, it is advisable to replace them. Another drawback of refinishing is that it can be less suitable if for changing the design or plan of the cabinets.

Cabinet refinishing changes their appearance. It doesn’t make structural changes. If you want a bigger kitchen remodel, replacing the cabinets may be better.

You must assess the condition of your cabinets. You must also consider your renovation goals. Do this before deciding whether refinishing is right for you.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Refacing and Refinishing

Decide between cabinet refacing and refinishing. Consider a few key factors.

Condition of existing cabinets:

  • If cabinets are in good shape and need a cosmetic update, refinishing may be the best.
  • If cabinets are worn or damaged, refacing may help more. It’s a complete fix.

Renovation budget:

  • Refacing costs more than refinishing. It involves replacing cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
  • Assess your budget and focus on your kitchen remodeling goals before making a decision.

The Condition of Your Existing Cabinets

The condition of your existing cabinets is critical. You should consider it when deciding between cabinet refacing and refinishing.

  • Refinishing is suitable for cabinets in good shape with minimal damage.
  • Gives cabinets a fresh look without requiring a complete replacement.
  • Refacing is better for cabinets with extensive damage.
  • Allows for replacing damaged doors and drawers’ fronts.
  • Provides a more comprehensive solution.

Assess the cabinet’s condition. Consult a professional if unsure about the best course for a kitchen remodel.

Your Renovation Budget

When choosing between cabinet refinishing and refacing, budget is crucial. Refacing increases project cost by replacing drawer fronts and cabinet doors.

Refacing might be a good option for your kitchen remodel if you have a larger budget. It can give you a more thorough update to your cabinetry.

Refinishing is a cheap fix for tight budgets, updating your cabinet’s look. You can do this through staining or painting, without needing extensive replacements. This can save you money while still giving your kitchen a fresh look.

You need to assess your renovation budget and focus on your kitchen goals. This will help you choose the best option for your needs.

Design Trends and Styles in Cabinet Refacing

It is enjoyable to know all the latest trends in the cabinet refacing business. There are three styles for you to choose from: transitional, traditional, and contemporary.

Refacing your cabinets can add personality to your kitchen. You do this by selecting new doors and drawer fronts. They match your desired aesthetic.

Cabinet refacing styles include shaker, raised-panel, and flat-panel doors, offering versatility and charm.

You can personalize your kitchen with door material, color, and hardware options. They let you reflect your style.

Popular Styles for Cabinet Refacing

When updating cabinets, you can choose different styles for new doors. One option is the shaker door, known for its clean and timeless design. It suits modern and traditional kitchens well.

Raised panel doors have a classic style with decorative details adding depth. They are ideal for formal and traditional kitchens.

Flat panel doors have a straightforward design and a sleek, contemporary appearance. They give you a simple, clean look, making them ideal for minimalist kitchens.

Enhancing Your Kitchen’s Appeal with Cabinet Refinishing

Refinishing your cabinets can breathe new life into your kitchen. Change the color or finish without replacing the whole cabinet.

This can give your kitchen a serious makeover and make it feel cozy and look amazing.

You can choose to stain your cabinets to show the wood grain. Or, paint them in a bright color if you want some more streamlined look and feel. Refinishing enables a homeowner to update the appearance of the cabinets in contrast to their preference or the general theme of the kitchen.

Color Trends and Techniques in Cabinet Refinishing

Color trends and methods are vital in cabinet makeovers. The right color can change how your cabinets look. It can make them stand out or blend in with your kitchen’s design.

A popular trend is painting cabinets white or gray for a fresh and timeless appearance. These colors can brighten your kitchen and provide a flexible base for other design features.

For a bolder style, you can opt for vivid colors to make a statement in your kitchen. This adds character and visual appeal, making your cabinets the center of attention.

Aside from color, refinishing cabinets uses different techniques, which include distressing or glazing.

This gives the cabinets texture and depth. These methods can give a distinct look that mirrors your personal style.

Achieving a Modern Look with Cabinet Refinishing

If you want a modern kitchen, cabinet refinishing can help. Choose the right color and finish for an updated look. To create a modern feel, go for clean lines and light colors like white or gray. A high-gloss finish adds a polished touch.

Modern hardware like minimalist handles can enhance the look. Small details matter in transforming your cabinets. With the right refinishing methods, you can get a modern kitchen, without a full renovation.


It’s vital to understand the differences between cabinet refacing and refinishing. This is important when considering a kitchen renovation.

Refacing cabinets is a cheap way to give them a new look. Refinishing is a cheaper option for updating without extensive changes.

Existing cabinet condition, renovation budget, and design preferences are crucial. They play a big role in deciding between the two.

It is advisable to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each method and then consider the kind of services that you need. In this way, you are able to somewhat weigh your option between style and form as well as gaining functionality of your kitchen space.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Can cabinet refacing increase home value?

    Cabinet refacing can boost home value in both the short and long term. Also, if you're considering selling your home, refacing your cabinets could easily net you an extra $10,000 on your home value.

  • 2. How long do refaced cabinets last compared to refinished ones?

    Refaced and refinished cabinets last a long time with care and regular maintenance.

  • 3. Is it possible to reface cabinets as a DIY project?

    Cabinet refacing can be a DIY project. But, it's best to get professional help. Refacing involves measuring, cutting, and installing, requiring special tools and skills. If you're not handy or just don't have the time, hiring professionals like JMT Cabinets can be a savings in both time and money.

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