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Refacing Cabinets: A Cost-Effective Makeover

Refacing cabinets is a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh new look without the expense and hassle of a full remodel. By replacing the doors and drawer fronts, and applying a new veneer to the cabinet boxes, you can transform the appearance of your cabinets while saving time and money. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the benefits of refacing cabinets, the process involved, the materials and tools needed, and provide tips and tricks to help you achieve professional-looking results. Whether you are a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a beginner looking to tackle your first home improvement project, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully reface your cabinets.

1. Understanding Cabinet Refacing

Before diving into the process of refacing cabinets, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what exactly cabinet refacing entails. Cabinet refacing is a method of updating the appearance of your cabinets by replacing the doors and drawer fronts, while leaving the existing cabinet boxes intact. The cabinet boxes are covered with a thin veneer or laminate to match the new doors and drawer fronts, creating a cohesive and refreshed look. This process is a great option for homeowners who are satisfied with the layout and functionality of their current cabinets but want to update the style and appearance.

2. Benefits of Cabinet Refacing

Refacing cabinets offers several benefits that make it an attractive option for homeowners. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Cost-effective: Refacing cabinets is significantly cheaper than a full cabinet replacement or remodel. By reusing the existing cabinet boxes and only replacing the doors and drawer fronts, you can save a substantial amount of money.
  • Time-saving: Refacing cabinets is a much quicker process compared to a full remodel. Since the cabinet boxes remain intact, there is no need to remove and reinstall them, which can save weeks or even months of construction time.
  • Less disruption: Refacing cabinets causes minimal disruption to your daily life. Unlike a full remodel, there is no need to empty out your cabinets or temporarily relocate your kitchen essentials. The process is relatively clean and can be completed in a short amount of time.
  • Customizable options: Cabinet refacing allows you to choose from a wide range of door styles, finishes, and hardware options. This gives you the flexibility to customize the look of your cabinets to match your personal style and preferences.
  • Environmentally friendly: By refacing cabinets instead of replacing them, you are reducing waste and minimizing the environmental impact. This is a more sustainable option compared to tearing out and disposing of the entire cabinet structure.
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3. The Cabinet Refacing Process

The cabinet refacing process involves several steps that need to be followed carefully to achieve professional-looking results. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate through the process:

Step 1: Evaluate your cabinets

Before starting the refacing process, take a close look at your cabinets to assess their condition. Ensure that the cabinet boxes are structurally sound and free from any water damage or rot. If there are any issues, it’s important to address them before proceeding with refacing.

Step 2: Choose your materials and style

Next, decide on the materials and style you want for your new cabinet doors and drawer fronts. There are various options available, including solid wood, veneer, laminate, and thermofoil. Consider factors such as durability, maintenance, and cost when making your selection.

Step 3: Measure and order your materials

Accurate measurements are crucial for a successful cabinet refacing project. Measure the dimensions of your existing doors and drawer fronts, and order the new materials accordingly. It’s recommended to order a few extra pieces to account for any mistakes or future repairs.

Step 4: Remove the old doors and drawer fronts

Start the refacing process by removing the old doors and drawer fronts from the cabinet boxes. Use a screwdriver or drill to remove the hinges and handles. Take care not to damage the cabinet boxes during this step.

Step 5: Prepare the cabinet boxes

Once the old doors and drawer fronts are removed, it’s time to prepare the cabinet boxes for the new veneer or laminate. Clean the surfaces thoroughly and make any necessary repairs, such as filling in holes or sanding rough areas.

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Step 6: Apply the veneer or laminate

Apply the chosen veneer or laminate to the cabinet boxes, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a roller or brush to ensure a smooth and even application. Take your time during this step to avoid any bubbles or wrinkles in the material.

Step 7: Install the new doors and drawer fronts

Once the veneer or laminate is in place, it’s time to install the new doors and drawer fronts. Use the appropriate hinges and handles according to your chosen style. Make sure they are aligned properly and securely attached to the cabinet boxes.

Step 8: Add finishing touches

To complete the refacing process, add any finishing touches such as trim, molding, or decorative elements. These details can enhance the overall appearance of your cabinets and give them a polished look.

4. Materials and Tools Needed

Refacing cabinets requires a specific set of materials and tools to ensure a successful outcome. Here is a list of the essential items you will need:


  • Cabinet doors and drawer fronts
  • Veneer or laminate
  • Hinges
  • Handles or knobs
  • Adhesive
  • Screws
  • Finishing nails
  • Trim or molding (optional)


  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Sanding block or sandpaper
  • Roller or brush
  • Clamps
  • Saw (for cutting trim or molding)
  • Level
  • Hammer

Having these materials and tools readily available before starting the refacing process will help ensure a smooth and efficient workflow.

5. Tips and Tricks for Successful Cabinet Refacing

Refacing cabinets may seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and some helpful tips, you can achieve professional-looking results. Here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Take accurate measurements: Measure twice and cut once. Accurate measurements are crucial for a seamless fit of the new doors and drawer fronts. Use a measuring tape and double-check your measurements before ordering materials.
  • Invest in quality materials: Choose high-quality materials that are durable and long-lasting. This will ensure that your refaced cabinets stand the test of time and maintain their appearance for years to come.
  • Prep the surfaces properly: Take the time to clean and prepare the cabinet boxes before applying the veneer or laminate. This will ensure a smooth and adhesive-friendly surface for the new material.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area: Some adhesives and finishes can emit strong odors. Make sure to work in a well-ventilated area or use a fan to circulate the air and minimize any potential health risks.
  • Seek professional help if needed: If you are unsure about any step of the refacing process or feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Hiring a cabinet refacing specialist can ensure a flawless outcome and save you time and frustration.
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By following these tips and tricks, you can confidently tackle your cabinet refacing project and achieve the desired results.


Refacing cabinets is a cost-effective way to give your kitchen a fresh new look without the expense and hassle of a full remodel. By understanding the cabinet refacing process, considering the benefits, and following the necessary steps, you can successfully transform the appearance of your cabinets. Remember to choose high-quality materials, take accurate measurements, and seek professional help if needed. With the right approach and attention to detail, you can achieve professional-looking results and enjoy a beautifully refaced kitchen for years to come.

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