Resurfacing Kitchen Cabinets

Resurfacing kitchen cabinets gives your kitchen a much-needed facelift without the hassles of a complete remodel.
Urban-Oasis-2011-Kitchen_18-Drawer-Handle-Detail_4x3

Urban-Oasis-2011-Kitchen_18-Drawer-Handle-Detail_4x3

By: Melissa Webster

Resurfacing kitchen cabinets, also called refacing, essentially means giving your existing cabinets a facelift that transforms their look, style and texture without the hassle, cost and mess of gutting and replacing them.

Kitchen Cabinets: Should Your Replace or Reface?

See All Photos

Shop This Look

You have three choices when resurfacing your kitchen cabinets, so you'll need to decide which one is the right fit for your needs. Resurfacing means to lay laminate, rigid thermofoils (RTFs) or wood veneers over the existing cabinet boxes, and it often looks so natural that it's difficult for the average person to tell it isn't the same solid wood all the way through. In a matter of days you can say goodbye to that grease-stained oak from the '50s and say hello to the glossy contemporary of maple or the regal dignity of cherry.

In most instances, the doors, drawer faces and side panels will need to be replaced, but the existing cabinet boxes can remain intact. If you choose to keep the hardware (handles, hinges, etc.) it will need to be cleaned thoroughly, though replacing it might be more fun and is often relatively inexpensive. Any home improvement store will have a large variety to choose from. Installation for your resurfacing project can be included with the cost of materials, but it is also a good DIY project any home improvement buff would enjoy.

Laminate is a great choice for an easy fix to brighten up the look of your kitchen cabinets. It is hard and durable, and it comes in many solid design choices. It works best for boxy, simple cabinet designs. You can buy laminate in sheets already coated with self-stick adhesive, which is slightly more expensive, but also much more convenient and easier. You can also apply the adhesive separately.

Rigid thermofoils (RTFs) are more malleable than laminates, so they easily cover more intricate designs such as cathedral doors and arches. RTFs don't have as many choices in the solid colors as the laminates do, but the wood grains look much more realistic.

Wood veneers are the most realistic-looking resurfacing option, because the material is actual, real wood. This allows you to stick with all-wood cabinets while transforming your cabinets to a completely different wood type. These can also be bought with the adhesive already applied to the back, or you can apply the adhesive yourself.

Sometimes nails will have to be applied to the old finish to reinforce the veneers, and you will have to cut and measure with all three options, leaving room for overlap. Trim the edges, very, very carefully and viola: You've got a whole new look.

Before and After Kitchens

See All Videos
Keep Reading

Next Up

New Kitchen Cabinets

Learn about the options for new kitchen cabinets to see whether brand new kitchen cabinets are the right choice for your kitchen renovation.

Ideas for Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Ready for a change? Discover the difference refacing kitchen cabinets makes.

DIY Kitchen Cabinets

Dive into your options for DIY kitchen cabinets, and get ready to create the kitchen of your dreams from scratch.

Old Kitchen Cabinets

Learn about all of the different options for refinishing or recycling old cabinets to bring you a new look your kitchen.

Repainting Kitchen Cabinets

What a difference a fresh coat of paint makes on your kitchen cabinets.

Kitchen Cabinet Installation Overview

Check your installer's work with these guidelines.

Updating Kitchen Cabinets

Updating kitchen cabinets transforms your kitchen into a gathering place for the whole family.

Recycled Kitchen Cabinets

Get information on recycled kitchen cabinets, an environmentally and budget-friendly way to redesign your kitchen.

Stock Kitchen Cabinets

Consider stock kitchen cabinets as an option for an economical kitchen design.

Painting Kitchen Cabinet Ideas

The strategy of a well-placed coat of paint on your kitchen cabinets will transform the room.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.