Repainting vs Refacing vs Replacing: Create Refreshing Change for Your Cabinets

Repainting vs Refacing vs Replacing: Create Refreshing Change for Your Cabinets

Weighing the pros and cons of repainting vs refacing vs replacing your cabinets? They are all great options for updating your space, but may not always be the right option.

In many homes, the kitchen is where the magic happens. Even if your culinary finesse extends to boiling water, this is where we gather with family, help with homework, chat with friends over coffee, and make memories that last a lifetime. Sometimes, the heart of the home is strong – but certain elements could use a face lift. If your décor is outdated or simply does not spark joy, it’s time for a change. Refreshing your cabinets can transform the entire look and feel of your kitchen, instantly updating and elevating your look.

Should you reface, repaint, or replace your cabinets? Let’s find the best solution for your needs, budget, and style.

A Kitchen Refresh with Cabinet Refacing  

When deciding between repainting vs refacing cabinets, you may first want to consider the bigger impact refacing can make.  Refacing cabinets means the basic framework and structure of your cabinets (i.e. the cabinet box) is left intact. It is the “skins” that are replaced; the doors and repainting vs refacingdrawer fronts are swapped out for new, updated styles and finishes while the bases are often painted to match. Typically, the hinges, handles, and drawer pulls are also replaced to achieve an effective makeover. Replacing your countertops as well could make it feel like an entirely new space.  

Why is cabinet refacing an exceptional choice for your home improvement project?  


  • If you love your current layout or footprint, refacing gives you the opportunity to change your aesthetic or give your kitchen a modern update. 
  • It is less expensive than replacing the cabinets entirely. If you have well-built base cabinets, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve your goals at a lower price point. On average, it costs 30% to 50% less to reface cabinets versus replacing them entirely with semi-custom or custom models. 
  • You want beauty that will last – and you want it sooner rather than later. Installing new cabinets can take 25-35 hours of labor time. For custom cabinets, this can be two to three times as long. Refacing can be done on a much faster timeline. 
  • We’ve focused on kitchens, but there is no reason you cannot reface cabinets in your bathroom, garage, mudroom, or other spaces in order to infuse new life into these areas. 

Before you schedule your cabinet refacing project, though, it is important to remember that it can be more expensive than you realize. For example, you may need custom doors made and bases painted to match. Material also plays a role: refacing with laminate is relatively inexpensive, but higher quality veneers and real wood veneers do edge the price up. Adding in any custom features like rollouts or other built-in accessories can also drive up the final cost.

repainting vs refacingAnother consideration: if you want wood-stained cabinets, it is highly likely that the bases and doors will not be a perfect match. They’ll be close – but typically not 100%. Most guests would never notice, but for perfectionists, this can be a sticking point when it comes to refacing.

Is Repainting Cabinets an Option?

Yes! This is the quickest way to give your kitchen a makeover, and you have no end of vibrant options from which to choose. Whether you follow the latest color trends (like Pantone’s  Color of the Year) or you want to introduce a contrasting or complimentary tone to your space, repainting is fast and effective. Repainting is appropriate if, as we mentioned above, you love the current layout of your cabinets, and the structures are in good shape.

When it comes to repainting vs refacing, cost can often be a leading factor. So, how much does it cost to repaint cabinets? Typically, it’s about $120 for a cabinet with a drawer and $150 for a cabinet with a door. Another way to estimate cost is to plan for about $35 per square foot of cabinets.

However, when it comes to repainting cabinets be aware that the surfaces build up more grease and dust than refaced surfaces. You will need to spend more time cleaning them, and if you don’t have them professionally done you will likely want or need to repaint in a few years.

Repainting is a great way to refresh a dated aesthetic. You may also want to upgrade the style of your cabinets by swapping out your old hardware for something more modern, or again, replacing your countertops. Although keep in mind, if your bases aren’t in good enough condition, they won’t hold up to repainting, refacing, or new counters.

When Should You Replace Cabinets? 

There are some situations in which you should forget refacing  or repainting and opt to install new cabinets: repainting vs refacing

  • You don’t love your layout. A great layout makes your life easier, more convenient, and, of course, more elegant. Sometimes, cabinets are not placed intuitively or with a mind towards functionality. In this case, you may want to start over and design a footprint that works for you.
  • You don’t have the right storage or features. While beauty is an important feature in cabinets, functionality is essential. Your current cabinets may not have the elements you need, such as rollouts, ample drawer space, custom built-ins (e.g. spice rack drawers, peg pullouts for utensils, tray dividers for baking sheets, wine rack drawer, etc.). These elements flawlessly blend form and function.
  • Your bases are in poor shape. If your cabinet boxes are not in great condition, it doesn’t make sense to give them a face lift. The underlying problem will not be addressed. In this case, it is best to start over and get both the quality and look that you want.
  • Is it worth the cost? Neither refacing nor repainting is cheap, and you don’t want to spend the money only to be unhappy with the results. In the cost-benefit analysis, consider aspects such as the condition of the bases, layout, functionality, and features you want to incorporate. In the end, all new cabinets that perfectly suit your needs may be worth the extra cost.

Repainting vs Refacing

Still not sure which path will bring you to your dream kitchen? If you are weighing the pros and cons of refacing, repainting, or replacing cabinets, get in touch with the ACo team. We will provide either a free in-home consultation or virtual in-home design assistance. Every step of the process can be completed remotely, while delivering the full benefit of our experts’ knowledge and experience.  

As always, with ACo’s worry-free approach, we will give you the information and insight you need to make the right decision for your home, your budget, and your lifestyle so you can love where you live. 


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