Should You Reface or Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets ?
by Brett Freeman
Cabinets that have been refaced have had every visible surface--the cabinet doors, drawer faces, hardware, and the exposed veneers of the cabinet frame--replaced, making them look brand new. For this reason, it is often a no-brainer to reface, rather than to replace, your tired old cabinets. But not always. Before undertaking either project, you need evaluate what you have, what you want, and whether the two are compatible.
Is the Cabinet Frame Fit and Firm?
The kitchen can be a brutal place for wood. Over time, the heat and steam and smoke associated with cooking can cause damage to your cabinet frames. If you are considering refacing the cabinets, you first need to make sure the frames are sound. Some problems are obvious: if the cabinet hinges seem loose or are pulling out of the frame, chances are that the wood is compromised. Cabinet doors and drawer faces that are no longer flush or square to the frame when they are closed indicates that the cabinet, the drawer, or the frame has become warped or swollen. If it's the frame that's compromised, refacing is no longer a viable option. If you aren't confident of your ability to determine the health of your cabinet frames, have a cabinet builder evaluate whether or not they are still in good shape.
Do You Have a Place for Everything?
Refacing can dramatically improve the look of your kitchen cabinets, but it has little or no effect on how they function. You can make some improvements to your cabinets in conjunction with refacing, such as adding slide-out drawers to the cabinets (although the cabinet frame may not allow this) or making adjustments to the height and number of shelves. But overall, the capacity and dimensions won't change. If you're short of cabinet space already, refacing won't help. If you don't have an extra-large drawer to hold all of your silverware, you still won't have one after refacing. These considerations are important, because while refacing cabinets costs far less than installing new ones, the money is only well spent if the end result is one that you are happy with.
This Old House
About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.
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