Refacing Vs Replacing – How to Decide What’s Right For You

refacing drawer conversion before after

How Does Cabinet Refacing Compare to Installing New Cabinets?

Have you been thinking about giving your kitchen a new look but aren’t sure what exactly it needs?

Cabinets take up the most visual space in the kitchen and also significantly affect its functionality, so it’s smart to contemplate changing them up.

Do you need to replace them completely? Or should you consider refacing them? Both are great options–but what is the best plan for your kitchen?

McManus Kitchen and Bath is a full service remodeling company with an in-house design team and showroom right here in Tallahassee, FL. 

We work exclusively with homeowners to help them remodel using a design-build approach that saves time, avoids confusion and creates better results. 

Key Takeaways

  • Replacing your cabinets means taking them completely out of the kitchen and installing new ones, sometimes in a different layout and with modifications.
  • Refacing your cabinets means leaving the boxes but adding materials to the sides and faces, to give them a new look, and installing new doors and drawer faces. Some modifications are possible, but the footprint of the kitchen stays basically the same.
  • Replacing is best when you’re renovating the kitchen, changing the layout, replacing countertops, or when the cabinet boxes are not in good shape.
  • Refacing is best when you already love the layout, the cabinets are the only part of the kitchen that needs upgrading, and the boxes are solid.
  • Refacing is cheaper, but not significantly enough that cost should be your deciding factor.

Replacing or Refacing?


Replacing your cabinets means just what the words imply: you have your cabinet boxes completely removed and disposed of, and you put all-new cabinets in their place.

You can choose between having custom, semi-custom, or ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets installed–for our opinion on which type of cabinetry is best, read this article.

Replacing your cabinets is a great option if you’re doing a complete kitchen remodel, or if you’re changing the footprint of your kitchen. 

Replacing kitchen cabinets is a big job that gives big results. It can completely change the look and feel of your kitchen.

It allows you to make just about any modification you want, whether it’s adding a pantry cabinet, replacing the lower cabinets with deep drawers instead of doors, or installing a large kitchen island with cabinets below it–the sky is the limit because we can update the layout of the kitchen as well.


Refacing your cabinets means fewer modifications and less disruption. This is a good solution if the layout of your kitchen is great as it is, and your cabinet boxes are all in good shape. Refacing your cabinets means that we leave the boxes as they are but give them a new look. Here’s what the process entails:

  • We remove all doors and drawer fronts.
  • We make modifications as desired, like converting an old kitchen desk to a beverage station or adding some drawers in place of a lower cabinet.
  • We refinish the cabinet boxes, faces, and sides. We cover them with ¼-inch solid core plywood (no flimsy veneers for us!), in whatever new style and color you want.
  • We replace the hinges and drawer slides (as needed) with Blum hardware, which is top-of-the-line equipment you will love.
  • We install new door and drawer fronts and add new hardware such as pulls and handles. These upgrades will give your kitchen an instant new look.
refacing before after

With refacing your cabinets stay in place and we replace the door, drawer fronts and trims. 

How is This Different From Refinishing or Replacing?


When you refinish your cabinets, you remove the doors and drawers and sand them down. Then you either stain or paint them, as well as the cabinet boxes. You rehang the original doors and drawers, and you probably replace the hardware. The result is a freshened-up kitchen without any new materials (except for the hardware).

New Cabinets

Replacing your cabinets means you remove the entire cabinet boxes from the walls. Rather than redoing and reusing them, you install completely new cabinets in their place.

This is a good option when your cabinets are in bad shape or if you want to significantly change the layout of your kitchen. It’s also a much bigger project, taking a lot more time and costing more. The result is a completely new kitchen.

Kitchen with Cherry Cabinets

New cabinets are the best choice if you want to update countertops and tile as part of the project or want to change the layout of the kitchen. 

Painting Your Cabinets

Painting cabinets is the quickest and least expensive way to update them but painted finishes don’t last a long either.

Read about painting cabinets here. 

Why Reface Your Cabinets?

  • Refacing your cabinets save money because you don’t have to replace countertops, appliances or fixtures. This can be significantly less expensive than replacing them–as much as 30-40% less in many instances.
  • The job can be done much more quickly than a full replacement. Most kitchens can be done in as little as seven days (sometimes less!), and bathrooms usually take a day or two.
  • It’s less disruptive. Because the cabinets themselves aren’t being removed, there’s very little mess and construction dust. You can keep using your kitchen throughout the project without any trouble.
  • It’s more eco-friendly. Cabinet boxes are big and take up a lot of space in landfills. When you reface your cabinets, you’re only disposing of doors and drawers–much less waste than with a total replacement. And because you’re using fewer new materials, fewer trees are cut down.
  • You can make changes like adding drawers to lower cabinets and upgrading hardware.
Chef's kitchen with walnut hood, marble counters and unlacquered brass fixtures

If you want a whole new look for your kitchen then a ktichen remodel is best. But if you just need to update you cabinets and want to keep you countertops, appliance etc… then refacing is a good option. 

Is Refacing Your Kitchen the Right Choice for You?

It might very well be!

  • Do you like the basic layout of your kitchen and feel that with a few small tweaks, it will be perfect?
  • Are your cabinet boxes sturdy and in good shape?
  • Do you want to minimize waste and go green as much as possible?
  • Do you want to save time, money, and headaches but still have a brand-new kitchen?

If so, then you should strongly consider refacing your cabinets instead of replacing them.

Consider the Bathroom Vanity Too!

Refacing bathroom vanities is a quick job that generally takes just a day and can give your bathroom an instant facelift. If your cabinet doors aren’t looking great but your vanity itself is in good shape, consider having it refaced. One popular bathroom vanity upgrade is removing the false drawer fronts and installing full-height doors instead. This gives your bathroom a luxurious, high-end, and custom look.

Want Some Inspiration In Your Inbox? 

Refacing Costs vs New Cabinets

The cost of refacing and the cost of new cabinets are pretty similar. An average sized kitchen reface can cost between $20,000 and $25,000.  

While you can buy new quality cabinets for about the same amount with new cabinets you also have to repalce the countertops, sink, faucets, backsplash etc… 

The costs savings with refacing comes from not having to replace those other items. 

Ready to Start?

If refacing your cabinets is the best choice for your kitchen or bathroom, give us a call. Serving Tallahassee neighborhoods like Summerbrook, Midtown, Betton Hills, and others for over twenty years, we’ve got you covered. Let’s get your kitchen looking its best.

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