Kitchen refacing paint
Kitchen Guides

Refacing vs. Replacing Kitchen Cabinets

Your kitchen cabinets are in need of some love, but you're undecided about whether it's better to spruce them up or replace them entirely. Here's a breakdown of essential elements to consider when deciding whether to reface or replace cabinets.

The best option will be determined by your budget as well as the layout and condition of the existing cabinets.

Before we get into the pros and cons of each choice, let's first define what they are.

Cabinet Refacing
refacing kitchen cabinets

Refacing, also known as resurfacing, involves replacing the cabinet fronts and drawers after attaching new laminate or veneer surface material to the original cabinet structure (boxes). Cabinet hardware and other related elements are also frequently replaced.

Cabinet Replacing
kitchen renovation cabinet replacing

Cabinet replacement is exactly what it sounds like. All of your current cabinets are removed, and new cabinets, doors, and hardware are installed. Because the measuring and leveling components can be complicated, this is normally done by experienced installers.

These are the two main options you have when you're looking to give your kitchen a makeover. While many people think that refacing is typically easier and less expensive, reality shows that's not always the case. 

When is it better to reface than to replace my cabinets?

Refacing Cabinets

It's typically a question of how much you like the footprint of your current kitchen when deciding between these two possibilities. If you like your present layout, but your cabinets show signs of wear and tear, refacing may be the best solution.

If your cabinet boxes are in good repair but your doors and drawers are in desperate need of a makeover, refacing can be a good option.

Finally, if your budget is limited, refacing may be the most cost-effective solution, but keep in mind that’s not always the case.

Replacing Cabinets

Cabinet replacement is the best option if you're planning a comprehensive kitchen makeover with a layout change or a kitchen addition for several reasons. First, it may be hard to avoid damage to cabinets when changing the layout of an existing kitchen space — including pulling out countertops and backsplashes — so replacement may be your only option.

Furthermore, the appearance of your new room will most likely alter from what it was when your original cabinets were fitted. As a result, replacing them may be the best option for achieving a consistent look.

Plus, when you update your cabinets, you may take advantage of features that your older cabinets may not have, such as more divider options, soft-touch closing, and more contemporary door styles.

What are the costs for each option?

The costs will obviously differ according to the size of your kitchen, the number of cabinets and the materials and finishes you choose. Below is an outline of what you can expect to pay for refacing or replacing your cabinets. 

Cabinet Refacing
Paint cabinet doors

The costs for refacing your kitchen cabinets will be lower if your area is smaller or if you have fewer cabinets. 

While you may read that it’s up to 50% cheaper to reface your cabinets, the reality is often different. For various reasons, refacing your cabinets may end up costing more than 2/3 of the cost of replacing them entirely. 

That's because you'll be replacing the doors, which are the most expensive part of the cabinet. Moreover, you'll also need new cabinet hardware, which can be quite costly.

Cabinet Replacing
kitchen renovation refacing cabinets

When it comes to a kitchen remodel, new cabinets can eat up a significant portion of the budget.

The quality of your cabinets might affect your entire cost, with higher-end goods offering more colour and personalization possibilities driving up the price. 

However, as we noted above, if you're doing a complete kitchen makeover, it's probably a good idea to include this in your project scope so you can get the space you want.

Pros and cons of each option

Now that you have a better understanding of the differences between refacing and replacing kitchen cabinets let's sum up the pros and cons of each option.

Refacing cabinets pros and cons 

kitchen refacing paint


  • Cabinet refacing is around half the price of cabinet replacement, but sometimes can be more expensive. One of the most significant advantages of refacing kitchen cabinets is the cost savings that occur most of the time. 
  • Many homeowners choose to handle their own cabinet refacing, which saves them money.
  • It's also better for the environment because you won't have to trash away your old cabinets.
  • One of the best aspects of cabinet refacing is that all of your appliances can remain plugged in and in place. That means your kitchen will continue to function even if it is being renovated.
  • You are not changing the arrangement of your kitchen when you reface kitchen cabinets. So, if the space isn't well-designed or functional, a fresh coat of paint on the cabinets won't make a difference.
  • Also, because refacing cabinets is less expensive, some homeowners spend a lot of money on expensive hardware or veneer. If this is the case, the savings compared to cabinet replacement may be insignificant.
  • Refacing kitchen cabinets also requires a certain level of expertise. You can run into problems if you try to do it yourself if you aren't very handy.
  • Cabinet refacing may sometimes take less time than cabinet replacement. From start to end, it usually takes less than a week, but that’s just for replacing the doors and drawers. If you’re looking to have the cabinets repainted or restraint, the timeframe is much longer.

Replacing cabinets pros and cons 

Kitchen Remodel grey kitchen

  • You'll be able to rearrange things once you've totally replaced your worn-out kitchen cabinets. You're basically starting with a blank canvas and can even move the sink or stove around. Of course, this will increase the cost of your project.
  • New cabinets provide you the freedom to choose whatever you desire. You may have everything that’s currently missing from your kitchen, from pull-out shelves to built-in dividers and deep drawers.
  • You can also pick the materials and colours.
  • You can maximize your storage space by changing the layout of your kitchen or adding more cabinets.
  • The timeframe for installing new cabinets is often shorter. That’s because it’s actually quicker to replace the cabinets than having to tape up, paint, sand, and reface the old cabinets in your kitchen.
  • The cost of cabinet replacement is the most significant disadvantage. If you replace your cabinets instead of refacing them, you may end up paying more (even though that’s not always the case).
  • This project will also take longer. The old cabinets will have to be removed by your contractor. You'll need to remove everything out of your cabinets and figure out where you'll put it.
  • You'll almost certainly have to relocate your appliances as well.

How long does each option take?

There are multiple factors to take into account when it comes to the timeframe for each option. For example, you need to consider when you can receive approval from strata if you live in a condo or a permit from the city. It’s also important to consider the date of the final approval of your kitchen design.

Keep in mind that contractors frequently schedule many jobs at the same time. Before you hire a contractor, make sure you ask how long the project will take.

Bottom line

We hope that this guide on refacing and replacing kitchen cabinets has assisted you in making an informed decision about your kitchen.

Remember that the best choice is based on how long you intend to live in the house, your budget, and, ultimately, how quickly you want the job completed.

Even though choosing between refacing and replacing cabinets is often driven by your budget, it's essential to consider the broader picture, especially if you're planning a major kitchen makeover or addition. 

If that's the case, replacing your cabinets rather than attempting to reface what you already have may usually make more sense.

Refacing may be the best option if your cabinet boxes are in decent repair and you aren't planning a major kitchen renovation. 

If you’re looking to replace our kitchen cabinets, book a free design consultation with one of our kitchen designers. Still not sure which is the best option for you? Ask us any questions that you have or simply create your kitchen design with our Oasis Kitchens online kitchen planner and it's free!

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