Kitchen cabinets: 3 options for your kitchen remodel

Jeffrey Anderson | Improvement Center Columnist | November 5, 2013

Whether you're looking to boost your home's value or simply give it a facelift before friends and family start gathering there for the holidays, a kitchen remodel can dramatically change the look and feel of your home. In an ideal world, many people would prefer to have all new cabinets. However, not having the time or money for new cabinets doesn't mean you're stuck with the as-is cabinets you have. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of all your cabinet options:

Purchasing new cabinets

While you may jump at the thought of having new cabinets for your updated kitchen, consider if they're really worth the time and investment.


  • Layout - When you demolish all your old cabinets, you're left with a fresh space you can layout however you want
  • Value - Installing new cabinets is almost always the best option if the primary goal is to increase the value of your home. However, keep in mind that if that's your project's purpose, the new units should be at least mid-range or preferably high-end to see the ROI you want.
  • Maximum flexibility - When you buy new cabinets, manufacturers such as Merillat and Yorketown Cabinetry offer almost countless wood types, styles, and finishes.


  • Cost - Unless you purchase budget-friendly units with particle board boxes, new cabinets are almost always the most expensive option.
  • Schedule - Depending on the manufacturer and what is kept in stock, when placing your order, some cabinets have a lengthy lead-time.
  • Inconvenience -- Unless you're lucky enough to have them delivered at just the right moment, you'll need a space to store new cabinets before they're installed. Installing new units also means removing countertops and unhooking plumbing and any under cabinet wiring.

Cabinet refacing

Cabinet refacing has grown in popularity over the last decade. Refacing involves installing a new veneer over the faces and exposed sides of your existing boxes and replacing the door and drawer fronts with new panels.


  • Cost - Depending on layout and cabinet sizes, many contractors can reface cabinets for about 30 to 50 percent of the cost of installing new units.
  • Time - The cabinets in an average kitchen can typically be refaced in two to four days with minimum disruption to your home life.
  • Flexibility - While not offering quite as many options as buying new units, refacing still allows you to completely change the style and finish of your cabinets.


  • Cabinet boxes - Refacing uses your existing cabinet boxes so if they're in rough shape, they aren't going to look any better when the job is complete.
  • Layout - Refacing limits you to your existing cabinet layout.
  • Value - Potential purchasers often place a higher value on new cabinets.

Cabinet refinishing

There's a big difference between painting your cabinets and having them refinished. A professional cabinet refinishing job results in a furniture grade finish that can look even better than new cabinets


  • Time - While not as fast as refacing, Simon Telfer of Andrew's Refinishing in Dallas, TX says that an average job takes about 10 days. However, much of the work is done back in their shop, so they're only in your home for around 4 to 5 days at the most.
  • Cost - Refinishing is often comparable in cost to refacing.
  • Value - A professional refinishing job can make at least the front of your cabinets look brand new.


  • Layout - Refinishing your existing cabinets limits you to your existing layout.
  • Cabinet boxes - Just like with refacing, if the insides of your cabinets have seen better days, refinishing might not be your best option.
  • Cabinet style - Refinishing isn't going to give them a new style. If you have arched door panels now, the process isn't going to make them flush or square panel.

While all three are great options, keep in mind that with whichever one you choose, how the project turns out is often dependent on the experience and knowledge of the contractor doing the work.

About the Author

Jeffrey Anderson has a Degree in English from V.M.I., and served as an officer in the Marine Corps. He worked in Residential and Commercial construction management for 25 years before retiring to write full time. He spends his time writing, remodeling his old farmhouse, and in animal rescue.