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Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

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Refacing Kitchen Cabinets
Courtesy of Nashville Home Inspection | May 2015 Monthly Tip

NHI-Mayeblast-imageWhat is the remedy for kitchen cabinets that are beginning to look a little down-and-out? A new face, of course.

How do you go about getting your cabinets a new face? Refacing means covering the exposed cabinet frames (boxes) with a veneer of real wood or plastic laminate. Doors and drawer fronts are then replaced to match or compliment the new veneer, and new hinges, knobs and pulls complete the face-lift.

There are a number of benefits to refacing such as a cost savings of half or more over replacing cabinets. It is also quicker to do, and infinitely less messy than tearing out or cabinets and installing new ones. And it can be an environmental-friendly gesture, because the old cabinets remain in place instead of adding to a land-fill.

There is no shortage of refacing options, with veneers available in a wide variety of colors, patterns and textures. Some options include rigid thermofoil (RTF) doors, which feature a durable plastic coating over fiberboard, along with plastic laminates and real wood veneers in style including oak, cherry and maple. (Wood veneers are the most expensive option and need to be sealed to protect against moisture).

In addition to choosing the style of materials and hardware, homeowners need to decide whether to hire a professional installer or to tackle the job themselves over a couple of weekends.

Here are some other questions that will be important to think about before starting the project – will the backsplash or countertops be replaced at the same time? Will anything else in the kitchen be changed such as appliances or lighting?

Once homeowners have a good handle on the scope of the project, the next decision will be determining if refacing is a viable option. It won’t be worth the investment unless the refaced cabinets will hold up for at least another ten years of life. If the cabinet boxes are sagging, water damaged or won’t hold up to refinishing, they may have to be replaced.

If the cabinets can be refaced, the cabinet doors must be measured accurately to determine the amount of veneer required, and the correct sizes and quantities of doors and drawer fronts that need to be replaced and ordered. It should be noted that doors and drawer fronts may take up to two weeks or more for delivery.

Regardless of who handles the work, the first steps include removing the old cabinet door and drawer fronts and washing the exteriors of the cabinets with a degreaser. The finish on the boxes needs to be lightly sanded so that the new veneers will adhere correctly. The veneer is then applied and then the new cabinet doors, drawer fronts and hardware is mounted.

Refacing an average kitchen with laminate is estimated to cost between $1,000 and $3,000 installed, and $2,500 to $5,000 or more for real wood veneers. Wood veneers can range even higher, depending on the wood that is chosen. Replacing kitchen cabinets completely can easily run double or triple the cost of refacing cabinets.

Source: John Watkins, Nashville Home Inspection, May 2015 Monthly Tip, 052015 eblast distribution

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