Cabinets: Should You Replace or Reface?

Save money on your kitchen remodel by refacing your cabinets instead of replacing them. But make sure your current cabinets are up to snuff first.

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Hide CaptionShow CaptionAfter: A fresh, contemporary cabinet look from Kitchen Solvers.
Even with the potential cost-savings, however, refacing isn't right for every kitchen remodel. Before making the decision to reface, rather than replace, homeowners need to consider a number of factors, starting with the "bones" of their current kitchen cabinetry.

"If they are not high-quality cabinets to begin with, it usually makes sense to replace the entire piece," says Deborah Ramos, an interior designer in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Lorey Cavanaugh of Kitchen and Bath Design Consultants in Hartford, Conn., agrees.

"The old adage about not throwing good money after bad comes into play here," Lorey says. "Don't spend money to refront products that are truly worn out."

Gary Reynolds, a cabinet craftsman in North Carolina, encourages homeowners to take a careful look at the quality of their existing cabinets before going with refacing.

"Cabinets built prior to the 1980s were generally built of better materials than newer ones. Back then, ¾-inch plywood was actually ¾ inches thick and particle board was used for floor underlayment," explains Gary, who handles both refacing and new cabinet construction.

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