To Reface, Refinish, or Replace: What to do with Old Cabinetry

By House Painting Info Team

Whether it’s kitchen cabinets, mudroom storage, or something in between, deciding to refinish, reface, or replace these can be a hard call when working on remodeling or upgrading your home. Usually, a quick easy fix would be to just repaint, but, over time, this will just peel and crack. Here are a few ways to figure out which option is the right move for your home’s upgrade.


When refacing, you’ll be thinking about a few things; installing new drawer fronts, veneering cabinet faces, and adding new hardware to create a refreshed look. It will be less expensive than replacing completely, but you’re going to have to make sure your cabinets are in good enough shape to ensure longevity post-reface. This option takes little to no time, typically only about two to four days if done correctly.

Keep in mind that this option is more environmentally friendly; you won’t be sending anything to a landfill and will be creating less work in your home update than if you do a removal. If you aren’t sure how to veneer yourself, this may be an obstacle in your path. It definitely has a learning curve, and if you plan on finding a contractor for your remodel, it can be difficult to find a company that will do a simple reface.

This only works if you have wooden cabinets and have a layout that you want to keep. If your bathroom, mudroom, etc., isn’t functional, to begin with, this may not be the best option for you. When working with a contractor they will take a look at other things such as sinks and faucets, if these aren’t in great shape they may recommend a total replacement. Make sure to get a full look at your cabinets and the surrounding areas before making your decision.


If you have a smaller budget, a little sanding, priming, and finishing can go a long way. For those who plan on selling and moving, it’s a simple quick fix that can completely change the interior of your home. You can match your stains to your walls if you plan on creating color changes. Lighter stains will fit with a darker room, whereas darker stains will ground a room with pastel and bright colors.

You won’t need to buy new cabinet doors or anything outside of stains; the cabinets will have the same base, frames, doors, etc., as long as you don’t want to upgrade them. The wood should be strong enough to withstand the original sanding or paint-stripping and will be a simple facelift to an older cabinet design. Realistically, a refinishing project is the most cost-effective, usually costing between $1,700 and $4,000.

Just like any other upgrade, make sure to inspect the cabinet doors first. A stain won’t work on top of a sealant or a topcoat, so if this is the case, refacing is the way to go. However, if you’re comfortable with the stripping process, the stained cabinets are easier to maintain over time, as they won’t peel or crack.


If you have the budget for it, doing a full replacement may be your best solution. This will allow you to add more space for storage, and will actually give you a better resale value if you plan on moving. Modernizing an older home can be done by updating your bathroom vanity or cabinets to match your remodel. If updating a master bathroom, you can even go the extra mile to match tiling, as well as the colors used on the walls. Coordinating backsplash in the kitchen to the cabinetry can tie together a kitchen as well, giving you the opportunity to use color theory to connect every room in the house.


While more expensive than refacing or refinishing, experienced installers can level your base cabinets, which can actually be a huge positive in the long run. If your cabinets aren’t properly leveled, counters could crack, the weight of items could bend cabinets, the list is pretty extensive. Considering quality is important when choosing to reface, refinish or replace.

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