Refacing vs Refinishing vs Re-dooring Cabinets (Watch Video)

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Refacing vs Refinishing vs Re-dooring Cabinets: Full Comparison to Help You Decide

When you’re redoing your kitchen, it can be overwhelming to find the most cost-effective and practical solutions to meet your needs. The largest investment will be your kitchen cabinets, as they take up the most space, and are the most involved to build and install. However, most homeowners don’t realize they actually have three alternatives to investing in costly tear-out and replacement of their kitchen cabinets: 
  • Refacing
  • Refinishing
  • Re-dooring
This has homeowners wondering about the differences between refacing vs refinishing vs re-dooring your kitchen cabinets. Here we offer a complete guide to these three cabinet options to make it easier for you to make the smartest decision for your dream kitchen.   

What are the Elements of Kitchen Cabinets? 

We want to start here because it helps you understand what is involved with each option. The basic elements or parts of your kitchen cabinets include: 
  • Boxes: This is the main structure of the kitchen and storage area that is affixed to the walls and floor. The box also contains the shelves or drawer slides. 
  • Doors: These are the doors to the cabinets. 
  • Drawers: These are the drawers to the cabinets. 
  • Panels & Gables: These are the exposed walls or ends of your cabinet sections. 
  • Toe Kick: This is the panel located along the floor. 
  • Moldings: This is the decorative trim detailing such as crown molding at the top of the cabinets. 
  • Light Valance: This is a molding that is affixed to the bottom of your upper cabinets. 
Each cabinet option addresses these elements in different ways. 

What Are The Types of Kitchen Cabinet Materials & Can They Be Refinished 

It is important to understand the materials used for your kitchen doors and drawers because this determines if refinishing is possible. The most common types of kitchen cabinets include: 
  • Solid Wood: Solid wood is the longest lasting, but least cost effective material. They come in many different wood species and stains. Wood doors can be either restained or painted. 
  • Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF): MDF is made of wood fibres, wax, and resins and has a very smooth texture. As a result, they are easy to paint and repaint for a lovely finish. 
  • Thermofoil: Thermofoil cabinets have a vinyl layer heat wrapped over a fiberboard core. They pose the biggest challenge for refinishing. as the vinyl and glue have to be completely removed in order to paint the fiberboard core.  
  • High-Pressure Laminate: Laminate doors are a press board core with a durable laminate adhered to the from, back and all edges. This material is not possible to refinish.  
DIYers should make sure they know what materials they are working with, or sanding and painting can lead to disaster. 

What Is Kitchen Refacing? 

Kitchen refacing uses the existing “boxes” for your cabinets but replaces all visible parts of the cabinets including the doors, drawer fronts, moldings, panels, frames, etc. With refacing you also have the option of making changes to your kitchen layout and functionality.  

How To Reface Kitchen Cabinets 

You take the measurements of your cabinets, choose the material, design and colours you desire, and order your new cabinet doors and accessories. The elements are then manufactured and shipped to you ready for you to install. 

What Are The Benefits of Kitchen Refacing? 

Kitchen refacing is the next best thing to completely new cabinets. However, it can be done at a fraction of the cost. There are three contributing factors that save you money: 
  • You maintain the boxes so there is no need for costly tear-out
  • There is no need to manufacture and transport the boxes
  • There is no need to install and assemble the entire cabinet system
All these steps save money on materials, labour, transportation and more. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of Kitchen Refacing? 

  • You have practically brand-new kitchen cabinets suited to your preferred style 
  • No need for tear-out therefore there is no disruption to your home 
  • All elements of your cabinets are brand new other than the boxes 
  • Refacing is a fraction of the cost of completely new cabinets, yet have the same impact 
  • More expensive than refinishing and re-dooring 
  • Boxes must be in good condition 
Are you ready to upgrade your cabinets? Order your cabinet doors and drawer fronts online today or contact us today to learn more about cabinet refacing.

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Homeowner installing door handle

What Is Kitchen Refinishing? 

Cabinet refinishing involves restoring or replacing the existing finish on the exposed parts of your cabinet boxes as well as the door and drawer fronts. There are many different finishes available, depending on the materials used for your existing cabinets. For example, if you have solid wood cabinets, you can choose between different stains or paints, while cabinets that are not solid wood can only be painted. 

What Are The Benefits of Kitchen Refinishing? 

The main benefit of kitchen refinishing is it gives you a cabinet makeover at a very affordable price. Your cabinets look refreshed, up to date and professionally finished, without the need for expensive tear-out and replacement that leaves your kitchen out of commission often for weeks or even months. 

How To Refinish Kitchen Cabinets 

This is a far more involved process. All door and drawer fronts are removed, thoroughly cleaned, and degreased, minor damages are repaired, and then they are primed and painted in a shop. The panels, gables, toe kick, frames and molding are prepped and painted on sit, then door and drawer fronts are reinstalled within a couple of days once the paint on the cabinet boxes has dried. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of Kitchen Refinishing? 

  • You get a refreshed look for your kitchen 
  • Endless colour and finish possibilities 
  • No tear-out and little disruption to your home 
  • You still have the same cabinet style, so your kitchen doesn’t look brand new 
  • Not as long-lasting as refacing or redooring 
  • Only the colour changes so older cabinets still look outdated 
  • Must be done professionally or the finish won’t last 
  • Professional refinishing is still quite expensive when you consider the finished product 

What Is Kitchen Redooring or Replacement? 

The last option is redooring. This is like a hybrid between refinishing and refacing. In this case, the doors and drawer fronts are replaced, but the rest of your cabinets remain the same. Doors can be ordered either finished or unfinished. This allows you to choose unfinished doors you paint or stain yourself, so you can then match the finish to the rest of the cabinet system. You can also choose a professionally finished door which you then can match to the paint you apply to the rest of the cabinet system. 

What Are The Benefits of Kitchen Replacing? 

In this case, the main benefit is the cost savings and you do get brand new doors so you can completely change the look of your kitchen, but you save because you aren’t paying for installation, and nothing else is replaced. 

How Are Kitchen Cabinets Redoored? 

You take the measurements, choose the design, decide if you want finished or unfinished doors and then order your new cabinet doors and accessories. This is more of a DIY project as you have to finish the panels, frames, gables, moulding etc. on your own. Once the cabinets are finished, they are delivered, and you complete the project by installing the finished doors and drawers. 

What Are The Pros and Cons of Kitchen Redooring? 

  • Very affordable 
  • Brand new doors 
  • Many designs available 
  • Can be ordered finished or unfinished 
  • Finding the exact matching finish/paint/stain  

What Is The Best Option: Reface vs Replace Kitchen Cabinets? 

Although refinishing is the most affordable option, it still costs money for professional refinishing yet doesn’t provide you with the new, updated cabinets you desire and the finish has a very short lifespan. Therefore, your two best choices really are refacing or redooring your kitchen cabinets.   When comparing the two, it really boils down to budget. If you have the money to invest in refacing, this will provide you with the exact look you desire. The DIY element is very simple, requiring some basic tools and a bit of time to install the brand-new doors, drawers, hinges, handles, panels, frames, etc. However, you can take your time and complete the project as time allows.   For replacing, or redooring, you still get the look you desire, but the DIY end of the project is a bit more involved. You have to colour match the finish, prep and paint all the remaining parts but then installation of the new doors and drawers is very simple. 
  Cost Appearance Process 
Refacing Most expensive Brand new look You measure your kitchen, place the order and then install the new kitchen elements 
Refinishing Most affordable Same cabinets with different colour or finish Doors and drawers are removed, the remaining parts are painted on site, the doors are finished and then delivered ready to install 
Redooring Mid-range cost Brand new doors You measure your doors, place the order, finish the remaining parts on your own and then install the new doors 
At Cabinet Refacing To Go we specialize in affordable solutions for your kitchen cabinets. Speak to our kitchen experts today to find the right solution for your DIY kitchen cabinet redesign. 
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