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Q & A

Answers to commonly asked questions from the experts on Thumbtack.

How do you refinish kitchen cabinets?

If you’re ready for a new look and feel in your kitchen but don’t want to replace the cabinet layout or your cabinet doors, refinishing your existing kitchen cabinets is a great option. To be a good candidate for cabinet refinishing, your cabinet boxes and doors need to be in good condition. Cabinet refinishing includes taking down your doors, sanding or stripping the surface, preparing the doors with primer as needed, refinishing them with as many coats of stain or paint are necessary, then re-hanging them in their original locations. If you’re not in love with your kitchen cabinet layout, talk to a designer or contractor about creating an alternative. Refinishing simply means adding new shine to the existing setup, so if you’re dying to have a pull-out pantry or maximize wall space by going flush to the ceiling, you may want a different approach. Functional and stylish ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets can be similar in cost to refacing your existing cabinets, so keep the budget-friendly RTA option in mind when making decisions.

How do you resurface cabinets?

Resurfacing kitchen cabinets means that you retain your original cabinet boxes and existing cabinet layout and simply remove and replace the front layer of your cabinet doors. Cabinet resurfacing can also entail replacing damaged cabinet doors, keeping those that are in good shape, and installing a new surface on all of them. Cabinet resurfacing may also refer to a decision to completely change out cabinet doors because they are damaged or their style is out of date, but keeping the existing cabinet boxes and layout.

If you’re handy and have all the proper tools, cabinet resurfacing can be a DIY project, especially if you’re simply repainting. However, if you’re not comfortable removing and replacing your cabinet doors, doing precision measurements and cutting, or working with sanders and power tools, then this may be a project better left to the pros. You or your handyman or cabinet installation specialist will remove all cabinet door and drawer fronts and all hardware, then prepare the surfaces for a new layer. The pros should also update the veneer or laminate the frames to match. Once the new laminate, veneer or surface has been applied and new hardware installed, your cabinet doors and drawers are hung once more in their original locations. The national average cost for refacing cabinets is $5,000.

Can you resurface laminate cabinets?

Resurfacing laminate cabinets is an affordable and relatively easy way to give an outdated kitchen a fresh new look. If your existing cabinets are in good shape and you like your current cabinet layout, putting a fresh face on your kitchen could mean simply painting over the current laminate or putting a new laminate surface on the doors and drawers. Cabinet resurfacing may be possible for the capable DIY homeowner, but if you don’t have the proper tools or the know-how, it’s wise to call a handyman or a cabinet installation specialist to ensure you have a professional-looking outcome. To make sure your kitchen is right for cabinet resurfacing (as opposed to completely replacing your cabinets), ask yourself:

  • Do I like the layout of my current cabinets?
  • Are the cabinet boxes structurally sound?
  • Are the floor and framing in good condition to keep cabinets supported over time?
  • Are the cabinets free of water or wood damage?

How much does it cost to refinish kitchen cabinets?

Cabinet refinishing revives dull or dinged-up doors and drawers. The cost of cabinet refinishing will vary based on factors such as the number of linear feet of cabinetry you have, the amount of nicks and scratches that need repair, the level of detail on your cabinets, and more. The pros typically will remove the cabinet doors and then sand or strip them down to create a beautifully smooth new surface. After prepping the surface with primer as needed, the pros may then repaint or stain the doors to give them a new lease on life. Cabinets with intricate detail or extensive surface damage will likely cost more to refinish, as they will take more time and effort. Keep in mind that you should only elect to do cabinet refinishing if the cabinet boxes are structurally sound and you plan to keep your current kitchen layout for a number of years. The investment will be wasted if the cabinet boxes are in disrepair and will need replacement soon, or if you’re planning a remodel in two years. The national average price range for cabinet refinishing is between $1,500 and $6,000.

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