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Refacing Kitchen Cabinet Doors: An Alternative to Painting or Remodeling

When is refacing kitchen cabinet doors the answer? Sometimes your kitchen cabinet doors are beyond help. At that point, painting will not improve them, especially if you aren’t in to the distressed, antique look. But with the current economy, you don’t see a full kitchen makeover anywhere in your near future. Refacing could be the solution for you.

Refacing Kitchen Cabinet Doors – What Does it Mean?

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Refacing means removing your current kitchen cabinet doors and replacing them with new doors and making improvements to the the cabinet structure that holds them. In most cases for half the price of new kitchen cabinets, refacing your kitchen cabinet doors may be as good as a full kitchen makeover. In addition to the significantly reduced investment in cost, there is a significant reduction in the time needed to complete this partial kitchen makeover. Your current cabinets will not have to be removed – just the doors. You’ll be able to continue using your kitchen during the “redecorating phase” and prepare meals with minimum interruption.

When I moved into my first home, my galley kitchen was easy to use. I liked the placement of the appliances and the location of the pantry. What I didn’t like was my basic, plain cabinets. They didn’t even have attractive hardware to dress them up. One of the first projects on my “to-do” list was deciding what to do about my kitchen cabinets. At the time, I had never heard of refacing kitchen cabinet doors but after a few visits to Home Depot and Lowes to price all new kitchen cabinets, I knew I had to find another alternative. When I found out about kitchen cabinet door refacing, I was excited and relieved at the same time.

Things to Consider When Refacing Kitchen Cabinet Doors

One of the first things to consider after deciding to reface your kitchen cabinet doors is determining what look you want for your kitchen. If, like me, your kitchen doesn’t really have a “look,” then the decision is both easy and hard to make. Easy because you can choose almost anything and hard because there are so many options.

Wood, veneer, or plastic should be your first decision when refacing kitchen cabinet doors. You would think that plastic laminate is probably always going to be the cheapest route to take but that is not always the case. Surprisingly, RTF veneer may be cheaper. RTF stands for rigid thermofoils. That seems like a super technical word for discussing kitchen cabinet refacing but all you need to know is that RTF veneers are durable and can be made to look just like wood. They can even be painted and molded to resemble different models of wood panel doors. So if you had your heart set on wood but can’t quite afford it, RTF should be a product to consider. On the other hand, RTF can also take on the look of a brightly painted finish, so if you like plastic laminate, some RTF designs may be of interest to you, too. Plastic laminates come in many different colors and are a nice choice if you want a simple, modern look to your kitchen. But plastic laminate isn’t as durable as RTF.

As far as wood goes, some people don’t think the additional expense is worth the upkeep. Thankfully, the polyeurthane finishes that are used on wood cabinets now are strong enough to protect them without all the waxing that people used to have to do to keep their wood cabinets looking beautiful. Dusting and polishing about once a year with a good wood polish should be enough. One tip, though, make sure that the cabinet doors you purchase have adequate sealers on them. Ask what you will need to do for upkeep. Be sure you understand what you are getting. You might be happier with RTF.

Wood door options for kitchen cabinet refacing include oak, poplar, cherry, maple, and pine. The style possibilities for refacing your kitchen cabinets with wood are endless. Home Depot and Lowes sell a few lines with different style options and there are private kitchen companies that handle this work, too. Another possibility is to create your own kitchen cabinet door with a custom woodworker. Of course, this might get as expensive as redoing the whole kitchen, but it is an option.

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing – What Will it Cost?

The cost of completing your kitchen cabinet refacing will depend on what doors you choose, where you are, and the size of your kitchen. A good ballpark cost is usually between $1000 to $5000 dollars. Cost is usually figured per unit and you have to count up the cabinet door(s), the wood structure surrounding it, and any drawers. This will be one unit. It’s a little confusing so ask if you are confused. If you are working with a custom woodworker or a company like Home Depot or Lowes, you should make an appointment with them to do the figuring for you.

I ended up choosing RTF doors for my kitchen because they were appropriate for the overall quality of my starter home and my neighborhood. Doing more would have been overkill in my particular case. I was very happy with final look I got from refacing my kitchen cabinet doors. Deciding to improve my kitchen by refacing my kitchen cabinet doors helped me sell my home faster because the kitchen was a selling point. Refacing turned my “plain Jane” kitchen into the kitchen I always wanted.

Sources for More Information

FaceYourKitchen.com will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about refacing your kitchen cabinets. Thinking of doing this project yourself? Read up on the basic instructions at kitchenrefacing.org. Personally, I’d leave this project to the professionals but if you’re very handy with woodworking, you might be able to do this on your own. Surprisingly, there is not much information on the HGTV site about refacing your kitchen cabinets. And the Lowes and Home Depot sites online don’t supply much information, either. You’ll have to go to in person to those stores to get the most useful information.

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