I have a few old friends and relatives asking questions about painting, refinishing, and refacing their kitchens. The most common is which methods will cost them less between painting and refacing their kitchen cabinets.
Based on my experience – both painting and refacing offer budget-friendly options instead of completely replacing your cabinets, making it ideal for homeowners who are financially constrained. However, painting old cabinets are a bit cheaper but tends to accumulate grease and dust more easily than refaced ones, which means they require more upkeep.
But wait, there’s a catch: it will hold true only if you use the basic front-facing design and not the most luxurious one. Because if you invest in a high-end refacing solution, it will be far more expensive than painting.
Painting cabinets can be cheaper if you’re just painting the cabinets yourself from the front without using expensive tools, paints, and other paint materials.
In today’s article, I’ll take a deeper look at both methods in detail, the pros and cons of each, and the approximate cost associated with each method.
What is Cabinet Refacing?
The refacing process involves changing the front-facing components of your cabinets, like doors, drawer fronts, and hardware, such as handles and hinges.
The installers carefully remove all old elements to make way for fresh materials, which are usually wood veneer or solid hardwood that serve as replacement door/drawer faces – while also considering additional decorative features if you choose them: crown molding trimming, light rails & glass doors just to name a few.
With this simple but cost-effective upgrade approach, you can give your kitchen an entirely new look without the hassle and expense of gutting the entire space. It’s cheaper and faster than replacing your cabinets as it can mostly be done DIY style.
When to Reface Your Cabinets?
Ideally, you should be refacing your cabinets when your entire kitchen is in good structural condition but just need an aesthetic update.
This means the cabinet boxes, doors, and drawers still hold their shape and are in good condition. However, they just need a new look to match the overall updated style of your home and kitchen.
Cabinet refacing is a great option to update your kitchen on a budget. But be aware that if your kitchen or bathroom cabinets are in poor condition or you’re looking for a more major kitchen renovation, refacing may not be the best option. In this case, replacing your cabinets or painting the whole kitchen would be better.
What is Painting Kitchen Cabinets?
Cabinet painting is exactly what it sounds like – you’re painting your cabinets to give them a new feel and refinished touch.
Refinishing or painting generally involves sanding down the existing cabinets, doors, and drawers, painting them in the color of your liking, and then reinstalling them without any new components.
The thing is, with painting, you can save on the cost of doors and drawer fronts. You will only be paying for the paint primer materials and labor to refinish them. With refacing, you will spend more on the door and drawer fronts since you will buy new ones.
When to Paint Your Cabinets?
Painting your cabinets may be the best option when you have a limited budget and are not planning on making any significant changes to your kitchen layout.
Particularly when your cabinet doors, inside drawers, and frame handles are in good condition, but you want to change the color scheme to freshen up the overall look of your existing kitchen – painting can be a good option.
Painting vs. Refacing Cabinets – The Pros and Cons
There are several pros and cons to consider when deciding whether or not to reface your cabinets.
Pros and cons of refacing cabinets:
- Cabinet refacing is cheaper than replacing your cabinets entirely.
- The process is faster and can be done in a DIY style.
- You can add new features and design elements to your cabinetry.
- The drawback is you will need to buy new doors and drawer fronts.
- The process can then be more involved and costly than painting if water damage or warping occurs.
- The process can be even more expensive when you already have a set of hardware on your cabinets in good condition but want to replace them with high-end luxurious ones.
Pros and cons of repainting cabinets:
- You can save on expensive doors and drawer fronts with a simple repaint.
- The recoloring process is faster and can be done in a DIY style if the surfaces are in good condition.
- The drawback is you might need to sand and prep your cabinets before painting which will require more time.
- Also, you will need to repaint your cabinets more often than if you choose to reface them.
What’s The Average Cost Of Cabinet Refacing and Painting?
The cost of getting your kitchen cabinets refaced can range from $500 to $10,500 and even higher. This will depend on what type of work you plan to put in and the size of your kitchen.
Based on houselogic estimations, for a standard kitchen that measures 10 feet by 12 feet, the cost of professional cabinet refacing begins at approximately $80 to $100 per linear foot if you opt for wood veneer or laminate materials exclusively.
But hardwood will cost around $200 to $500 per linear foot plus an additional installation cost depending on the job’s complexity. Also, replacing the knobs, hinges, and pulls will cost anywhere from $2 to $100 per piece. And if you want to add new features like glass doors or crown molding, you can expect the cost to be much higher.
According to Bobvila, the cost to paint kitchen cabinets is typically between $3 to $10 per square foot or an average of $30 to $60 per linear foot, including labor, materials, and supplies.
It generally starts at around $1,000 and can go to $3,500 and above for a complete makeover. This depends on the size of your kitchen, the number of cabinets you have, the type of materials you use, and whether or not you hire a professional to do the job.
To sum it up, cabinet repainting is generally cheaper than refacing. And refacing the cabinets is a more affordable solution compared to replacing them. However, deciding which methods will be more affordable and better depends on your budget and the design you want for your kitchen.
The refacing cost can quickly increase if you go and add new features like glass doors or crown molding. Similarly, the painting cost might be higher if your cabinets need repair before applying the paint layers.
So, it is best to consult with an experienced professional and consider how much value the new look of your kitchen will add to your home. This will hopefully help you make the final decision.
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Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.