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Cantor’s Corner: Complete Kitchen Remodel or Reface Your Cabinets?

Cantor’s Corner: Complete Kitchen Remodel or Reface Your Cabinets?

Presented by Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel

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by Gregg Cantor
Resident Expert, The Home Pro Show
President, Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel

Complete Kitchen Remodel or Reface Your Cabinets?

The age of your kitchen, cabinet quality, and condition of interiors helps determine if you need a complete remodel or simple reface is an option.  Other factors are existing cabinet construction and the functionality and layout of your existing kitchen.

With refacing, new cabinet doors and drawer fronts are installed.  Cabinet faces, sides and backs are veneered with a pre-finished stain or paint material.  Some minor modifications may be cost effective, but if the cabinet interiors are in bad shape or the drawers and hardware need replacement, it may be more beneficial to remodel.

Cabinet Quality and Condition of Interiors

If you have track-quality cabinets with no backs that are nailed to the wall, chances are they are not worth refacing.  Typically these production cabinets have stapled drawers, low quality hardware, particle board interiors and no backs.  In this case, you should completely gut your kitchen and start fresh.

Cabinet Construction – Style

With new cabinets, the trend is European construction where the doors and drawer fronts are all flush and there are no face frames.  This provides more usable space and the ability to store wider items in a compartment. Other common features of modern cabinets are melamine or maple plywood interiors, self-closing drawers, ball bearing drawer guides, solid dovetail drawer boxes, dual trash/recycling pull outs and many other accessories to improve functionality.


Another major factor in deciding whether to reface or replace is functionality and the layout of your existing space.  In most cases, it is not cost-effective to modify existing cabinets while refacing, so it is a better value to do a complete kitchen remodel. Things to consider are the work triangle, counter top space, location of storage in relation to cooking areas and appliances, spacing between cabinets, informal dining and serving areas. Going the complete remodel route, your space can be planned out to fit your individual needs and lifestyle.

How Do You Decide?

Before making a decision, establish a budget and create a list of “must haves”.  The average cost for a complete mid-range kitchen remodel according to Remodeling Magazine is $56,768 and refacing is in range of $10,000 to $15,000 for an average kitchen without new countertops, appliances, plumbing or flooring.

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