Kitchens are the heart of just about any home, as they’re a place where homeowners not only live, but work. When you spend day after day cooking meals, digging through your kitchen drawers, and pulling cookware and dishes out of your kitchen cabinets, you’ll start to notice every nick and scrape in their finish, or get sick and tired of how dated they look.
But installing new kitchen cabinets isn’t cheap. Even bare basic, straight from the big box store cabinets can cost several thousand dollars. If you want custom cabinets, then the price really soars.
Many homeowners craving a new kitchen look have heard that cabinet refacing can deliver it for a fraction of the price. But what is cabinet refacing, how much does it cost, and how does it compare to completely replacing your cabinets?
What is kitchen cabinet refacing?
Obviously, when you replace a kitchen cabinet, the entirety of the original cabinet is removed—doors, shelves, box and all.
But ‘cabinet refacing’ is a little different. When a cabinet is refaced, the cabinet doors and drawer fronts are removed and replaced with brand new doors and fronts.
But obviously, you can’t slap new doors on a decades-old cabinet. The color, texture, and condition of the materials wouldn’t match! That’s why the front, sides, bottom, and interior of the cabinets—the boxes into which you place your dishes, cookware, etc.—are repainted to match the doors. In addition, cabinet handles, drawer pulls, hinges, and other hardware, as well as any adjustable shelves are also replaced in order to match the new look and style of the cabinets. Crown molding, lighting, and other accessories are sometimes also added for additional style and functionality.
How much does cabinet refacing cost?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer as to the price tag for cabinet refacing. If you dig around in the phone book or on Craigslist, you’ll probably be able to find someone with a pickup truck willing to reface a small kitchen for $1,000 to $2,000. But when it comes to refacing, you get what you pay for.
A cheap cabinet refacing job will look cheap—the doors and drawer fronts will be of substandard quality, the paint job may be hastily applied, and things will start to fall apart in a matter of months. Odds are that you won’t be any more satisfied with a cheap refacing job than you would be with the cheapest cabinets you can find.
High quality cabinet refacing, performed by a professional using quality materials, starts at around $2,500 for a very small kitchen, and range from $4,000 to $8,000 for most kitchens. For large kitchens with a lot of cabinets and drawers, refacing can cost around $10,000.
How does the cost of cabinet refacing compare to the price tag for new kitchen cabinets?
For a small kitchen, a very cheap set of cabinets will cost around $2,000. Better quality standard kitchen cabinets can run between $4,000 to $8,000. Semi-custom and fully custom kitchen cabinet sets, which can also include countertops, backsplashes, and other amenities, start from around $12,000 and can run all the way up to $30,000.
As you can see, for both new kitchen cabinets and kitchen cabinet refacing, there’s a big price range, which makes it a little tricky to compare the two. A decent rule of thumb to follow is that what it would cost you for kitchen cabinets of a certain quality and style, it would cost you about one-third to one-half that amount for a kitchen refacing job of similar quality (we advertise that our cabinet refacing typically costs 50% to 70% less than new cabinets).
That means that if you have a mid-sized kitchen, and a set of good quality kitchen cabinets prices out at around $8,000 to $10,000, refacing your existing cabinets to achieve a similar look will probably run you around $4,000 to $5,000. When we work with customers who have had custom cabinet makers quote them at around $16,000 to $30,000, our refacing quotes usually come in at $7,000 to $14,000.
This price disparity between refacing and replacement is due to two factors:
- Materials: Refacing a cabinet involves much less actual material. Only the doors and drawer fronts are fully replaced, while the bulk of the cabinet is left intact.
- Time: Replacing cabinets is time intensive. The old cabinets must be demoed and removed, new cabinets installed, and any affected electrical or water lines rerouted or replaced as necessary. Cabinet refacing doesn’t disturb any structural elements, so it requires much less time than cabinet replacement, and thus the labor costs are far lower.
It should be noted that there are some limitations to cabinet refacing. If you aren’t happy with the layout of your cabinets, or your cabinets are structurally unsound, refacing can’t address those issues. However, if you’re happy with the quantity of cabinets you have and how they are laid out in your home, but you don’t like how they look, cabinet refacing is far more cost effective.
Express Reface is not the cheapest kitchen cabinet refacer on the market, but you get the highest possible quality with us, dollar for dollar.
We don’t try to compete on price point, because inevitably, nobody is happy with a cheap refacing job. Our approach is to do work that will not only make customers happy when it’s new, but will also hold up for many years to come.
This is why Express Reface doesn’t cut corners. However, we can help our customers save money because what we do cut out is the middleman.
Big box stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer cabinet refacing services. However, they don’t directly partner with their suppliers, and they obviously don’t employ the people performing the refacing. Instead, big box stores have distributors that in turn obtain materials from a variety of suppliers, while the work is subcontracted out to one of innumerable anonymous installers to do the actual work.
Because there are so many links in the chain, each of which has to turn a profit, the total cost of cabinet refacing purchased through a big box store tends to be inflated.
We don’t work like that. When you work with Express Reface, it’s our in-office salespeople that you speak to, it’s our employees who come out and perform the installation work, and we obtain all the materials directly from local manufacturers. This significantly reduces margins, which means that more of what you pay goes towards high quality materials and installation. You get more for your dollar at Express Reface than you do anywhere else.