What is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing?

Iowa Cabinet Refacing

Updating your cabinets can be one of the best ways to breathe new life into your kitchen without doing a complete remodel. And refacing your kitchen cabinets is one of the most popular ways to give your kitchen a makeover.

But what is kitchen cabinet refacing?

When you reface your kitchen cabinets, you remove the doors, apply a thin veneer of plastic laminate or natural wood to the exposed frames, then replace the doors, as well as the knobs, hinges, and other hardware.

Should You Reface Your Cabinets?

Rustic Cabinet Refacing

Kitchen cabinet refacing has become an increasingly popular option, especially for cost-conscious homeowners. Refacing kitchen cabinets can offer savings of about 50% compared to completely replacing your cabinets.

Additionally, refacing your kitchen cabinets can take as little as a week to complete, and your cabinets don’t have to be removed from the wall. You also won’t need to stop using your kitchen when they’re being refaced, a big concern for many families who worry about the often-lengthy kitchen remodeling process.

That said, refacing your kitchen cabinets isn’t always the best solution. In fact, at Kitchen & Bath Ideas Iowa, when we talk to people who are interested in refacing their kitchen cabinets, we often find that new cabinets are a better fit for their needs.

The Benefits of New Cabinets

Classic Elegant New Cabinets

Why choose new cabinets if they cost nearly twice as much as refacing your existing kitchen cabinets? They’re just a better value: you simply get more for your money with new kitchen cabinets.

New Cabinets: More Bang For Your Buck

When doing a reface of your kitchen cabinets, the biggest expense will be labor. Specifically, most of your money will be put into the time and effort of removing and reinstalling your cabinet doors and hardware, as well as the effort put into applying the necessary veneers. Your money won’t be going towards high-quality cabinet materials and hardware.

When creating new kitchen cabinets, most of the cost goes towards materials for your new cabinets. You’re choosing to invest in higher-quality cabinets and hardware, rather than paying mostly for the labor of installation. Keep in mind, that no matter which option you choose, you’ll be paying for labor, but with new cabinets it’ll be a lower percentage of the total cost.

Plus, synthetic veneers and natural wood used to reface kitchen cabinets simply can’t match the high-quality, elegant look of custom made cabinets. Before deciding to reface your cabinets, make sure that the end result will provide the look you really want in your kitchen.

Refacing Doesn’t Work Miracles

While refacing is a lower-cost alternative to a full kitchen remodel or even a kitchen cabinet replacement project, it does have a few drawbacks.

The biggest is that refacing cabinets won’t solve any structural problems with your kitchen and it won’t fix a bad kitchen design. If your cabinets are too small, don’t take good advantage of your kitchen’s layout, or aren’t meeting your storage needs, then refacing just won’t help. With limited exceptions, kitchen cabinet refacing only offers cosmetic benefits.

Replacing your kitchen cabinets or remodeling your kitchen is the only way to really make your kitchen more functional and stylish.

Not All Cabinets Can Be Refaced

A reface isn’t recommended for all cabinets. If you have older cabinets with frames that are warped, water damaged, or otherwise in need of repair, a reface isn’t the best choice because additional labor will need to be done just to get your cabinets ready for a reface. At that point, you’re better off opting for brand new cabinets, since that work will have to be done anyway.

You should also know that if your frames are made from particleboard, you might have a hard time refacing them. Additional fasteners and adhesives may be needed to make sure the new veneers adhere properly. This is another example of a labor cost that could be better applied to the creation of brand new kitchen cabinetry.

Visit the Kitchen & Bath Ideas Showroom in Des Moines, IA

Are you thinking about replacing or refacing your kitchen cabinets? Check out our online gallery featuring beautiful pictures from our favorite projects.

Or stop by the Kitchen & Bath Ideas showroom-- it’s the largest showroom in downtown Des Moines!


You can find us at 130 East Third Street. We’re open from 8AM until 5PM, Monday through Friday. Feel free to give us a call at (515) 200-1080 if you’d like to schedule a weekend appointment.

When you visit our showroom, you’ll be able to meet with our designers who will be happy to answer your questions or provide the inspiration you need to start making your kitchen a place you truly love.