The Final Cost of Cabinet Refacing

You just bought your first home and the final cost of cabinet re-facing may be getting to you. Already your mind is swarming with ideas to improve the appearance of your home as well as increasing the value. You’ve looked at the windows, checked on prices for siding, quoted a few carpet replacements, and suddenly, you realize you need to completely revamp your old outdated kitchen cabinets. What is the cost of cabinet re-facing? How much do you really need to spend on those cabinets to improve your home’s resale value? Should you hire a professional or could you create the kitchen of your dreams on your own?

About Cabinet Refacing

The truth of the matter is unless you possess great wood working skills, you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you create the perfect kitchen. While standard kitchen makeovers can run a homeowner into the tens and hundreds of thousands, a cabinet re-facing can save you a lot of time and money. Moreover, hiring a professional is a great way to goof-proof this often tricky task.

When hiring a professional, be sure to shop around first. Look for someone with great references; ask your friends and family for suggestions. Consider price and length of time it will take to complete your kitchen. There are several resources to use when searching for a contractor.

You may want to check with the Better Business Bureau in your area. Be sure to price quote more than one contractor. Be sure that the contractors you are looking at are licensed and insured. Also, look for companies that have been around for a considerable time, as those are the contractors that will be serious in preserving their reputation.


If you happen to be the eager Do-It-Yourselfer and feel brave enough to tackle this project, you will need the right tools and refacing materials. This is where you will consider the different types of cabinet or refacing cabinet textiles. You may choose solid wood products to add an elegant look to your cabinets, although this is the most expensive option and is not a job for the typical Do-It-Yourself homeowner.

Working with wood veneer is more forgiving and with care can create the stylish look of wood without the high cost. You may also look into Rigid Thermo Foil/PVC (RTF) cabinet doors. These cabinets are made from medium density fiberboard or wood that has been chopped down into a lightweight powder and then mixed with wax and resin.

RTF cabinets come in a wide selection of colors and styles and are prefinished, so there is no need to bother with staining, although they will need to be sealed or they will crack. During this part of the design process, you will also consider hinges and hardware, as well as adding trim or any decorative accents you may want to include.

When designing the ideal kitchen for cabinet re-facing, it is wise to work with the current features already evident in your kitchen. You will want to coordinate with tile and the existing layout of your counters and appliances.

Define your Goals

Before you jump in with that screwdriver and start tearing off doors, be sure to sit down and clearly define your goals and project concepts. Make not only a money budget, but also a time budget and be prepared for things to go wrong. Be sure to set extra money and extra time aside to offset these unexpected problems.

What Tools to Use

Next, you should consider what tools you need. You should have a tape measurer, high quality wood glue, sand paper, and a saw of your choosing. You could struggle with the electric power saw or use a miter box and hand saw. There are other tool options, but that depends upon your design goals and your budget. When shopping for tools, bigger is not always better. All too often, someone purchases the best brand available forgetting it is the man, not the tools that provide the necessary results.

Measuring Cabinets

After you have gathered all your materials, you must now turn your attention to measuring your cabinets. Begin with the width first, measuring all doors and false drawers to the nearest 1/8 of an inch. As always, measure twice before you place cabinet orders, purchase materials or begin cutting.

Afterwards, be sure to add 1in to the width and height of your measurements, this will allow for a 1/8 inch gap between all the cabinet surfaces. Any opening that is 22in or more in width should be considered two doors.


Once you have your measurements and your supplies, it is now time to begin removal and preparation of your old cabinets and counters. First, remove all the old cabinet hardware. Remove the drawers, cabinet moldings, and nails, as well as any false drawers you will be replacing.

Clean up any left over peeling or chipping coatings and be sure to fill in any non-level spots with hard drying putty. Then you can begin sanding to create smooth surfaces to refinish or veneer over. When the sanding process is over, you will want to make sure to clear away any dust or residues.

Working with Veneer

If you are working with veneer, you will want to start at the end panels of your cabinets. Place a few beads of wood glue onto the underside of the veneer and then position it onto your cabinet faces, making sure it is flush with the edges to create a smooth even finish. Use finishing nails to firmly secure your veneer.

You will have to sand again to ensure proper flushing and positioning. Once your veneer is in place, you will want to check for areas of unfinished wood and seal the edges. You will use this same process for the rest of your cabinets, starting with the stiles or the vertical strips between your cabinet openings. The horizontal pieces are called rails. You can use a straight edge to aid in trimming any excess material. Again, sand and seal after checking for flush alignment.

Installing Cabinet Doors

Now it is time to install your cabinet doors. You should place your hinges roughly 2in from the top and bottom and if you are using your old doors, be sure to create new screw holes to ensure sturdy installation. You will also be re-facing your drawer fronts at this point. Always check to ensure proper fitting, before permanently securing with screws.

Staining the Wood

If you decided on veneer or wood, this is the time for stain. There are two types of stain, semi-transparent and semi-solid. Semi-transparent stain can be used over bare or pre-stained but not sealed surfaces. Semi-solid can be applied to bare, pre-stained and even painted surface.

Foam brushes work well with stain and are inexpensive; however, you should consider good quality brushes with sturdy handles. Be sure to follow the manufactures directions to ensure the best look, after all your hard work, it would be devastating to have to start over due to a staining problem. You will want to seal the surfaces now to ensure a long life for your new kitchen cabinets.

So now, you have managed to plan, remove, prepare, and install your new kitchen cabinets. It is time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. If you hired a contractor, you probably have already been sitting back and enjoying those cabinets.

So what was the cost of your cabinet re-facing? Of course, totals are going to be different for every job, but hopefully this project will give you a good idea of what type of work and commitment needs to go into a remodeling project. Moreover, with that knowledge, you can surely tackle any future task with confidence.

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