If you're looking to give your kitchen or bathroom a facelift and want to save some serious cash, consider refacing your existing cabinetry instead of gutting and installing new cabinets. It's amazing what a little veneer and some new doors can do to brighten an aging space. Cabinet refacing is both cheaper and more eco-friendly than full bath or kitchen cabinet replacement. It is also far less intrusive than replacing your cabinets.
Cabinet Refacing is the process of replacing doors and drawer fronts and veneering the cabinet boxes of your existing cabinets. It's like giving them a facelift. The basic refacing project consists of installing new cabinet door and drawer fronts and covering the exposed face frames of the cabinets with a matching wood or plastic veneer. The layout and structure of your cabinets stay the same, they are just freshened up with a new look. Along with straightforward cabinet refacing, you might use this opportunity to accomplish other improvements that make the kitchen easier to use. For example, it is fairly easy to add a lazy susan in a corner cabinet and roll-out shelving for heavy pots that allow you to use existing cabinet space more efficiently.
How long does cabinet refacing take?
While this depends on the company doing the refacing and on the size of your space, most refacing can be done in 2-4 days. This is a benefit not only for cost (less labor costs) but also, you should still be able to use your space while your cabinets are being refaced. Cabinet replacement is more expensive labor, parts and you can't normally use your space while the replacement is going on. Most of the work is done during the day so you should have full access to your area in the evenings. Ask your contractor if they plan on cleaning up at the end of each day so that you can utilize your space or if you will need to make other arrangements. The clean-up can be an additional cost added to you.
Plastic versus wood veneers
There generally are three finish options: plastic laminates, rigid thermofoils (RTF) and wood veneer.
Plastic Laminates come in a wide variety of solid colors and wood-grain looks. Laminate is a little more expensive than RTF and they are limited to plain cabinet door styles when compared with RTF. Laminates offer a variety of color options, but aren't as durable as RTFs. However, the availability of more printed designs has made them popular among many urban kitchens. They are very sturdy and can handle a lot of abuse.
RTF is a very malleable vinyl foil pressure-molded over medium-density-fiberboard doors. It can be shaped and molded in a range of styles including arched and cathedral doors, raised panel and eyebrow raised panels. RTF comes in a fewer solid colors than laminates, but its wood grain is made to look realistic. They are durable and considered the most affordable of finish options. Thermofoils are generally available in a variety of solid and wood-grain patterns.
Refacing a kitchen with wood will cost from 10 percent to 25 percent more than RTF and laminates, and it can be done in oak, maple, cherry, birch, walnut or almost any other wood a customer wants. Wood veneers are the most expensive option and will need to be carefully sealed to protect against moisture. After sealing, the wood needs minimal care and will last longer.
Driving up the price
Hardware replacement (handles, knobs, etc.) is going to be the least expensive part of your refacing project. Very basic cabinet handles range between $5 and $15 each at your local hardware store. The price of basic, no frills knobs are less expensive. The more expensive handles and knobs tend to be more decorative and made of more costly materials. When choosing hardware, homeowners should consider the functionality as well as the appearance. In particular, ask yourself if you would like to use and see the handle or knob every day?
Cabinet organizers and accessories will also drive up the cost of your refacing, however, many opt to reface their cabinets because then they will have enough money for a few extras! Think of cookbook rack pull-downs, drawer partitions, lazy susan's, under sink storage or even a knife rack pull-down. Not only can your kitchen look brand new, it can feel brand new - and organized!