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Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets Without Spending a Fortune

Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets Without Spending a Fortune


In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various methods and strategies to reface your kitchen cabinets without breaking the bank. Renovating your kitchen can be a costly endeavor, but with the right techniques, you can achieve a fresh and updated look for your cabinets while staying within your budget. We will address the ten most frequently asked questions about this topic, providing you with practical advice and tips to transform your kitchen space affordably.


1. How can I reface my kitchen cabinets on a budget?

Refacing your kitchen cabinets on a budget requires careful planning and cost-effective choices. Here are ten budget-friendly tips to get you started:

  1. Paint Your Cabinets: Painting your cabinets is a cost-effective way to give them a fresh look. Choose a high-quality paint that can withstand kitchen wear and tear.
  2. Replace Cabinet Hardware: Swapping out old knobs and handles for new ones can make a significant difference without costing much.
  3. Add Molding: Crown molding, beadboard, or trim can be added to cabinet doors for an elegant touch.
  4. Remove Cabinet Doors: Consider open shelving for a more modern and airy feel. It eliminates the need to reface the doors.
  5. Use Peel-and-Stick Veneer: Self-adhesive veneer sheets can be applied to cabinet surfaces for a wood grain finish.
  6. Reface Only Some Cabinets: Focus on high-impact areas like the island or upper cabinets to save money.
  7. Apply Contact Paper: Decorative contact paper can transform cabinet interiors and backsplashes inexpensively.
  8. Opt for Laminate or Thermofoil: These materials mimic the look of wood but are more affordable than solid wood.
  9. DIY Countertop Resurfacing: Give your kitchen a fresh look by resurfacing your countertops with paint or epoxy.
  10. Reutilize Cabinet Doors: Repurpose old cabinet doors or find secondhand ones to replace damaged ones.

Remember to plan your project meticulously and prioritize your needs to stay within your budget while achieving a beautifully refaced kitchen.

2. What tools and materials do I need to reface kitchen cabinets?

Refacing your kitchen cabinets requires specific tools and materials to ensure a successful project. Here is a list of essential items you will need:

Tools Materials
Screwdriver Paint or veneer sheets
Drill Cabinet hardware
Saw Sandpaper and sanding block
Clamps Tack cloth
Measuring tape Wood glue
Level Primer and paint brushes
Carpenter’s square Molding or trim
Safety glasses and gloves Contact paper
Paint scraper or putty knife Laminate or thermofoil sheets

Having these tools and materials at your disposal will make the cabinet refacing process smoother and more efficient. Be sure to choose high-quality paints and veneers for a longer-lasting finish.

3. Can I reface my cabinets without professional help?

Refacing your cabinets is a DIY-friendly project that can be tackled without professional assistance. However, it’s essential to have some level of experience with tools and home improvement projects. Here are steps to help you get started:

  1. Plan and Measure: Measure your cabinets accurately and plan your refacing project carefully. Decide on the materials and colors you want to use.
  2. Remove Cabinet Doors and Hardware: Unscrew cabinet doors and remove hardware like knobs, handles, and hinges. Label each piece for easy reinstallation.
  3. Prepare Cabinet Surfaces: Sand the cabinet surfaces to remove any old paint or finish. Clean the surfaces thoroughly with a tack cloth to ensure proper adhesion.
  4. Apply Primer: Apply a high-quality primer to the cabinet surfaces. This will help the paint or veneer adhere better and provide a smooth finish.
  5. Paint or Apply Veneer: Depending on your chosen method, either paint the cabinets or apply veneer sheets carefully. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results.
  6. Install New Hardware: Once the paint or veneer is dry, reinstall the cabinet doors and add new hardware. Make sure everything is level and aligned correctly.
  7. Add Molding or Trim: If desired, add decorative molding or trim to the cabinet doors for an enhanced look.
  8. Clean Up: Clean up your workspace and admire your newly refaced kitchen cabinets.

While DIY cabinet refacing is achievable, take your time, and don’t rush the process. If you’re unsure about any step, consult online tutorials or seek advice from experienced DIYers.

4. What are the pros and cons of refacing kitchen cabinets versus replacing them?

Refacing and replacing kitchen cabinets each have their advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a comparison to help you make an informed decision:

Refacing Kitchen Cabinets:


  • Cost-effective compared to full cabinet replacement.
  • Faster and less disruptive, allowing you to use your kitchen during the project.
  • Keeps the layout intact, saving on plumbing and electrical work.
  • Sustainable option by reusing existing cabinet frames.


  • Limited design changes, as you’re working with the existing cabinet layout.
  • May not address structural issues or damaged cabinet frames.
  • Older cabinets may not look as fresh as brand-new ones.

Replacing Kitchen Cabinets:


  • Opportunity for a complete kitchen makeover with new layout and design.
  • Brand-new cabinets offer the latest in storage solutions and features.
  • Addresses structural issues or damage to the cabinet frames.


  • More expensive, including costs for new cabinets, installation, and potential changes to plumbing and electrical systems.
  • Longer project timeline, requiring a kitchen out of commission for a longer period.
  • Generates more waste as old cabinets are discarded.

Ultimately, the decision between refacing and replacing cabinets depends on your budget, goals, and the condition of your existing cabinets.

5. How can I choose the right paint color for my kitchen cabinets?

Selecting the right paint color for your kitchen cabinets is a crucial decision as it greatly impacts the overall look and feel of your kitchen. Here are some steps to help you make the right choice:

  1. Consider Your Kitchen’s Style: Think about the style of your kitchen. Is it modern, traditional, farmhouse, or something else? The cabinet color should complement the overall aesthetic.
  2. Assess Your Kitchen’s Lighting: Take note of your kitchen’s natural and artificial lighting. Lighter cabinet colors can make a small kitchen feel more spacious, while darker colors add warmth and coziness.
  3. Sample Paint Swatches: Collect paint swatches in various shades and hang them in your kitchen to see how they look in different lighting conditions. Narrow down your choices based on what you like.
  4. Test Paint Samples: Purchase small samples of your top choices and paint a section of one cabinet or a piece of plywood. This allows you to see how the color looks in your kitchen and how it matches other elements.
  5. Consider the Color Wheel: Look at the color wheel to understand complementary and contrasting colors. You can choose a cabinet color that complements or contrasts with your kitchen’s wall color and countertops.
  6. Think About Trends vs. Timelessness: While trendy colors can be appealing, consider whether they will still be in style in the coming years. Neutral colors like white, gray, and beige tend to be timeless choices.
  7. Gather Opinions: Don’t hesitate to seek opinions from family and friends. They may offer valuable insights and help you make a final decision.

Remember that cabinet color is a personal choice, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Take your time and choose a color that resonates with your style and preferences.

6. How can I update the hardware on my kitchen cabinets?

Updating the hardware on your kitchen cabinets is a simple and cost-effective way to give them a fresh look. Here are steps to guide you through the process:

  1. Remove Old Hardware: Start by removing the existing knobs, handles, and hinges from your cabinet doors and drawers. Use a screwdriver or drill for this step.
  2. Measure Hole Spacing: Measure the distance between the holes where the hardware was mounted. This measurement is crucial when selecting new hardware to ensure a proper fit.
  3. Choose New Hardware: Visit hardware stores or browse online for a wide range of cabinet hardware options. Consider the style, finish, and material that best matches your kitchen’s design.
  4. Purchase Hardware: Buy the new hardware, making sure it matches the hole spacing of the old hardware. If the spacing is different, choose hardware that includes a backplate to cover any existing holes.
  5. Install New Hardware: Once you have your new hardware, align it with the existing holes or use a template to mark new hole locations. Use a drill to create holes if necessary. Attach the new hardware securely with screws.
  6. Check Alignment: Ensure that all knobs, handles, and pulls are aligned consistently across all cabinets and drawers for a uniform look.
  7. Test Functionality: Open and close cabinet doors and drawers to ensure that the new hardware functions correctly and doesn’t obstruct the operation.

Updating hardware is a quick and easy way to refresh the look of your kitchen cabinets without major renovation work. It’s an ideal DIY project for those looking to make a noticeable change with minimal effort and cost.

7. What is the difference between laminate and thermofoil cabinet refacing?

Laminate and thermofoil are two popular materials used in cabinet refacing, each with its own set of characteristics. Here’s a comparison to help you decide which one is right for your project:

Laminate Cabinet Refacing:

  • Material: Laminate is a composite material made from layers of paper and resin. It has a durable, plastic-like surface.
  • Appearance: Laminate can mimic the look of wood grain, stone, or various other textures and patterns.
  • Durability: It is highly resistant to moisture, stains, and scratches, making it suitable for kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Cost: Laminate is generally more affordable than real wood.
  • Customization: It comes in a wide range of colors and patterns, allowing for creative customization.
  • Installation: Laminate refacing typically involves applying adhesive sheets to the cabinet surfaces.
  • Maintenance: Cleaning laminate cabinets is easy with mild soap and water.

Thermofoil Cabinet Refacing:

  • Material: Thermofoil is a vinyl material applied to MDF (medium-density fiberboard) or particleboard.
  • Appearance: It offers a smooth and seamless appearance, available in various solid colors and some wood-like finishes.
  • Durability: Thermofoil is moisture-resistant but can be susceptible to peeling or delaminating in extreme heat or moisture conditions.
  • Cost: Thermofoil is often more affordable than solid wood but may cost more than laminate.
  • Customization: While it comes in a variety of colors, thermofoil is less customizable in terms of textures and patterns.
  • Installation: Thermofoil cabinet doors are created by wrapping the vinyl material around MDF or particleboard, and they are typically pre-made.
  • Maintenance: Cleaning thermofoil cabinets is also easy with mild soap and water.

When choosing between laminate and thermofoil for cabinet refacing, consider your budget, desired aesthetics, and the conditions in your kitchen. Both options can provide a fresh and modern look to your cabinets.

8. How can I add open shelving to my kitchen cabinets?

Adding open shelving to your kitchen cabinets can create a trendy and airy look. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you incorporate this design element into your kitchen:

  1. Assess Your Cabinets: Determine which cabinets you want to convert to open shelves. Upper cabinets are typically a good choice for this purpose.
  2. Remove Cabinet Doors: Use a screwdriver or drill to remove the cabinet doors. Save the hardware if you plan to reuse it.
  3. Patch and Sand: Fill any holes or hardware openings with wood filler. Sand the cabinet frames and shelves to ensure a smooth surface.
  4. Paint or Finish: Paint the cabinet frames and shelves in your desired color. You can match them to the wall color or choose a contrasting hue for a bold statement.
  5. Install Support Brackets: Purchase and install support brackets for your shelves. These brackets will hold the shelves securely against the wall. Make sure they are level and properly spaced.
  6. Cut and Install Shelves: Measure and cut the shelves from plywood or lumber. Sand the edges and finish them with paint or a clear sealer for durability.
  7. Attach Shelves to Brackets: Place the shelves on top of the support brackets and secure them in place with screws. Ensure they are level.
  8. Decorate and Organize: Arrange your dishes, cookware, or decorative items on the open shelves. Consider using baskets or bins to keep things organized and visually pleasing.
  9. Accessorize: Add decorative elements like plants, artwork, or stylish kitchen items to enhance the open shelving’s aesthetics.
  10. Maintain and Clean: Regularly dust and clean the open shelves to keep them looking fresh and inviting.

Open shelving not only adds a modern touch to your kitchen but also provides easy access to frequently used items. Be mindful of what you display, as open shelves require a tidier presentation compared to closed cabinets.

9. How can I reface just the cabinet doors for a budget-friendly makeover?

If you’re looking to give your kitchen cabinets a makeover without tackling the entire cabinet structure, refacing just the cabinet doors is a budget-friendly option. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Remove Cabinet Doors: Start by removing all the cabinet doors you want to reface. Use a screwdriver or drill to detach the hinges from the cabinet frames.
  2. Clean and Prep: Thoroughly clean the cabinet doors to remove grease and dirt. Sand the surface lightly to roughen it up, creating a better bond for paint or veneer.
  3. Choose Refacing Method: Decide whether you want to paint the doors or apply veneer sheets. Both methods can achieve a refreshed look.
  4. Painting Cabinet Doors: If painting, apply a high-quality primer to the doors first. Once dry, apply the paint in even coats, allowing sufficient drying time between coats.
  5. Applying Veneer Sheets: If using veneer, carefully measure and cut the sheets to fit the cabinet doors. Peel off the backing and apply the veneer, smoothing out any bubbles or wrinkles.
  6. Add New Hardware: While the cabinet doors are drying, consider upgrading the hardware for a complete transformation. New knobs and handles can make a significant difference.
  7. Reattach Cabinet Doors: Once the doors are dry and any new hardware is installed, reattach them to the cabinet frames using the saved hinges.
  8. Inspect and Touch Up: Inspect the refaced doors for any imperfections or areas that may need touch-up paint or adjustments.
  9. Enjoy Your Updated Cabinets: Step back and admire your budget-friendly cabinet makeover. Your kitchen will look refreshed and modern without a full renovation.

Refacing just the cabinet doors is an efficient way to achieve a new look while saving time and money. It’s an excellent option for those who are satisfied with their cabinet layout and structure.

10. What are some eco-friendly options for refacing kitchen cabinets?

If you’re environmentally conscious and want to reface your kitchen cabinets in an eco-friendly manner, there are several sustainable options to consider:

  1. Bamboo Veneer: Bamboo is a fast-growing and renewable resource. You can use bamboo veneer to reface your cabinet doors for a sustainable and stylish look.
  2. Recycled Wood: Look for reclaimed or recycled wood to use as cabinet veneer. This repurposed wood adds character to your kitchen while reducing the demand for new resources.
  3. Low-VOC Paints: Choose paints with low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) for your cabinet refacing project. These paints emit fewer harmful chemicals into the air, promoting better indoor air quality.
  4. Water-Based Finishes: Opt for water-based finishes and sealers when refinishing cabinet surfaces. They are less toxic than traditional solvent-based products.
  5. Salvaged Hardware: Instead of buying new cabinet hardware, explore antique shops or salvage yards for vintage hardware. Repurposing old hardware reduces waste and adds character to your cabinets.
  6. Upcycled Materials: Get creative and use upcycled materials for cabinet accents, such as reclaimed tin ceiling tiles or salvaged glass doors.
  7. Cabinet Recycling Programs: Some companies offer cabinet recycling programs, allowing you to responsibly dispose of your old cabinets by recycling the materials.
  8. Energy-Efficient Lighting: Consider upgrading your cabinet lighting to energy-efficient LED fixtures, reducing energy consumption in your kitchen.

By incorporating these eco-friendly options into your cabinet refacing project, you can create a beautiful kitchen while minimizing your environmental footprint. Remember to properly dispose of any old cabinets or materials in an eco-friendly manner, such as recycling or donating them.

Read: Reface Kitchen Cabinets and See the Difference in Your Wallet

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