Reface or Replace Kitchen Cabinets: Pros & Cons

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Before and after reface or replace kitchen cabinets Klamco | Home Remodeling by Klam Construction

Should I reface or replace the kitchen cabinets?

The kitchen serves as the heart of the home in many ways, and many homeowners look at their kitchens and realize that it is time to update if not remodel their kitchen spaces. But, the big question is, “Should I reface or replace kitchen cabinets”?

Whether you’re planning a simple kitchen spruce-up or a complete overhaul, deciding what to do about your cabinets is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. New cabinets can take up nearly 50 percent of your total kitchen renovation budget, and functional cabinets can mean the difference between a kitchen that works and one that doesn’t. But what if you can’t afford to buy all-new cabinets with the latest storage features and styles?

Replacing the cabinets is one way to add an instant update, but you could also reface them instead. The better option depends on your budget and the layout or condition of the existing cabinets.

What are the differences?

What are the differences from a refaced kitchen cabinet to a totally new cabinet? In the end, they look very much the same, and if you do not open the drawers or doors no one may never know the difference.

The procedures between the refacing and replacement are pretty much the same except for the treatment of the cabinetry.

Let us take a look at the procedures, benefits, drawbacks and the costs the homeowner will end up with for each of the possible ways to update a kitchen space.



Beginning the refacing project, the countertops are removed after the plumbing and appliances are set out of the way. While these items are out of the way, a cabinet tech can spend anywhere from 7 to 9 hours measuring every aspect of the existing cabinets to insure a perfect fit for every door, drawer head and drawer box.

New cabinet parts are brought in and the old doors and drawer boxes are removed. Choosing a finish material may be the most important decision a refacing customer make.

It is important to note that the shape and layout of the kitchen are not changed with refacing. New refacing veneers or peel and stick material is applied to the exposed face frames and exposed sides. Even at this point, one minor error in measurements could set back the completion date for weeks. New hinges are supplied with the new doors which are often hidden self-closing and new drawer hardware is mounted into the existing cabinetry.

It will take a week or more for an experienced refacing tech to recover to boxes and fit the doors, drawer heads and install the drawer boxes with the proper adjustments. Now the new countertops and the new flooring can be installed.


Beginning the cabinet replacement remodel the counter-tops can be removed and the cabinetry removed. At this point, the measurements that will need to be taken are for the outer walls, interior design and layout that has been decided by the designer and homeowner.

Some homeowners choose replacing because their kitchen could be redesigned with a more convenient and modern floor plan. The electrical updates and plumbing updates can easily be accomplished with all the cabinetry out of the way, too.

After any drywall maintenance is completed, the new cabinetry can now be installed. All the new parts are assembled at the factory so the installation is simply setting the cabinetry in place. Next, the countertops can be installed and the new floor can be set. The last items are to finish electrical and plumbing and the replacement remodel will be complete.

Pros & Cons


If you were to imagine refacing like a cake, this would be as if at the end of the day, the homeowner keeps their old cake and gets a new, fresh coat of frosting.

As far as pro’s in the refacing project, the homeowner keeps the original floor plan and pays for the materials to recover the cabinet boxes. Some of the cabinets built 20 and 30 years ago are more solidly constructed than most modular, pre-built cabinets today. So when it’s time to redo the kitchen, it often doesn’t make sense to start from scratch

However, con’s for refacing is that refacing doesn’t address the issue of a poor kitchen layout, either. We advise you not to do refacing if the existing cabinets are beginning to fall apart, if they are metal cabinets that are rusting or if your floors have settled and your cabinets out of kilter. Also, bad refacing work looks bad and lower quality finishes can wear prematurely. Shelves can also sag a few years after installation, and you will continue to have weakening drawer box construction.


Replacing old cabinetry is one of the best choices to make with a kitchen remodel, not only for appearance, but overall functionality and satisfaction with having up to date, modern equipment and new features to make cooking and organizing in the kitchen incredibly enjoyable. You should want a kitchen that reflects not only your style, but also how you cook and eat and entertain.

We suggest replacing your cabinets if there are functionality problems, rotting, bad or old materials, and shelving is no longer square or level because of the floor or construction.

There are so many pro’s in which replacing your cabinets benefit your kitchen. Replacing them improves the cabinet’s usability and offers new, innovative technology and style. They also remove old, worn out, potentially rotting or decaying wood from the interior of your home that could cause additional damage. Despite a slightly higher price tag, replacement makes the most sense in certain situations.

If you are contemplating replacing, we really do say, “go for it” because if you are at this stage, the only reasons you may not want to replace your cabinets is if your current cabinets are like new and function completely with little to no rotting, sagging or rubbing.


How much you pay for refacing depends on the size of your kitchen, the materials you choose and how many options you elect to include. Typical refacing jobs can run $4,000 to $5,000, a plain-Jane refacing for $3,000. For $8,000 or $9,000, do it with wood, higher quality countertops, a new sink and some bells and whistles. One thing to keep in mind with refacing is that they will begin to deteriorate, sag and rot within the next 10-15 years where you will need to consider again, and at most points, will need to completely replace. This will then cost ANOTHER $10,000 – $30,000.

Replacing cabinets will generally cost you more in the short term, however, in long term, you are only replacing the cabinets this one time and you are likely good to go for another 50 years and never having to go through the replacing process again. The average replacing cost can range from $10,000 – $30,000

Remember to get a quote on new cabinets and make sure it includes handles, molding, and installation, sales tax, delivery charges, refinishing your walls if the new cabinets don’t line up with the old, any required plumbing or electrical work.


Overall, in most cases, we have found that kitchen cabinet replacing far exceeds the temporary fix of refacing.  Replacing your cabinets has incredible benefits that your family will be able to grow and love for so many years that refacing only covers up. As with any home remodeling project, it is important to talk to a contractor to get a professional insight.  When it comes to deciding if you sould reface or replace kitchen cabinets, a professional can provide you wonderful knowledge to help you decide what is best for your home, your family, and your lifestyle.

Our staff is ready to answer any questions you may regarding interior home remodeling for your kitchen, bathroom, basements and additions. Call us at (414)427-0800 or visit us at We are waiting to help you!

Klamco is a member of National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Angie’s List.

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1 Comment to “Reface or Replace Kitchen Cabinets: Pros & Cons”

  1. Klamco Staff says :Reply

    Thanks for reading!

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