National average cabinet refacing costs are between $1,000 and $9,000, but most homeowners will have an average cost of $6,500. While this is a wide price range, your bathroom or kitchen cabinet refacing costs will largely depend on their total linear square feet — carpenters usually price cabinet projects by the linear foot. The total cost will include labor costs and materials to cover the old cabinet boxes with a veneer of wood or plastic, replace the the door and drawer fronts, and add new pulls, trim, knobs and hinges.
Cabinets are a key part — and expense — of any bathroom or kitchen remodel. Change your cabinetry, and you change the look of your kitchen or bathroom entirely. But brand new cabinets aren't cheap. A room full of them can cost $20,000 or more; the price of a small car. As a cost-saving alternative, many homeowners will choose to refinish or reface their old cabinets during their remodel. While refacing cabinets isn't dirt cheap, it can be cost-effective alternative to new cabinetry. A professional cabinet refacing generally costs about half as much as installing new custom cabinets, and about 70 percent as much as installing stock cabinets.
Whether you're calculating the cost of a full kitchen remodel — countertops, backsplash and all — or a new face for your tired, old bathroom cabinets, this guide will cover what costs and steps to expect before you hire a pro.
What's in this cost guide?
- What is cabinet refacing?
- Is refacing the best option?
- Cabinet refacing cost factors
- How long it takes
- What does a pro do in the cabinet refacing process?
- How to hire a cabinet refacing professional
Cabinet refacing is when you replace your old cabinet doors and drawer faces with new ones, and put a new veneer, or “skin," over the boxes of the cabinets. A cabinet box is the part that's attached to the wall and holds the doors and drawers. Since boxes are the most difficult and expensive to replace, refacing makes bathroom and kitchen cabinets look new at about half the cost of replacing them.
It also gives you the opportunity to radically change the design of your cabinets. Once you're done reskinning your boxes, you can add crown molding trim, glass panels and even replace entire drawers with new ones.
However, it's important not to confuse cabinet refacing with cabinet refinishing. Refacing is a partial rebuild of the cabinets' doors and drawers, and a reskinning of the boxes that allows you to completely change the style and details of the cabinets. Refinishing, on the other hand, just changes the stain and color of your existing cabinets, and fixes minor damage. Think of refacing as a middle ground between refinishing and replacing cabinets.
If you're unhappy with how your bathroom or kitchen cabinets look, you basically have three options: cabinet replacement (most expensive), cabinet refacing (middle of the line), and cabinet refinishing (least expensive).
Refacing your cabinets is a good choice if your current cabinet layout works for you and the cabinets are well-constructed and in relatively good condition. With refacing, you can create a radically different look for your cabinets–say, going from Tuscan to Shaker style–without the expense of buying new ones.
Below are a few additional ways to tell if your cabinets are good candidates for refacing:
- You have solid, hardwood fronts on boxes. The face frames should be made of high-quality hardwood, so that a veneer can adhere to them solidly.
- Sturdily constructed cabinet boxes. Your cabinet boxes should be made of plywood or medium density fiberboard (MDF) panels that are in good condition.
- Hardware that's in good shape. While you can change out knobs and drawer pulls, other hardware should be in good shape. Specifically, drawer tracks and internal storage elements like shelves and racks must be working and undamaged. If drawers don't open smoothly or if cabinets lack storage features, it's not worth it to spend the money to reface them.
- You want an eco-friendly alternative. Refacing isn't just budget-friendly, it's also planet-friendly. It keeps your old cabinet boxes out of a landfill, and prevents more trees from being felled to make new ones.
In some cases, you might be able to get away with cabinet refinishing, which is cheaper and less time intensive than refacing.
And, of course, not all cabinets are worth saving. If your cabinets are poorly made, have structural problems, are damaged, aren't exactly where you want them or lack the storage features you want, skip refacing and rip them out. Learn more about the cost to install new cabinets.
In addition to your location, the total cost of your cabinet refacing project will be determined by a number of factors:
Size of your cabinets and veneering
How many cabinets do you have? How large are they? While some carpenters will have a set price for their project, most generally calculate the total cost of a cabinet refacing project based on the total linear square feet of your cabinets. The more cabinets you have, the more it will cost to reface them.
The type of veneer, or thin layer of hardwood applied on top of your base material, will impact the price as well. The most affordable option is a laminate veneer, made of plastic and bonded to a composite base, to give your cabinets a real wood look. A high-quality, solid wood veneer, made of (you guessed it) wood, will be more expensive.
The room and cabinet design
The existing layout of your cabinetry can adds complexity to the job. Tight angles or cabinets installed in corners with double hinged doors make the project more difficult and time-consuming, thereby increasing the total price.
New hardware is another cost factor to consider. If you're changing out door knobs and drawer pulls, expect to pay between $2-$4 for each knob on average. For new door hinges, the average national cost is between $4 - $20 per hinge on average.
A full cabinet refacing takes less time than replacing them. Refacing kitchen cabinets will take a professional about a week, tops. You can keep using the kitchen during most of the work.
Cabinets in a smaller kitchen or bath can be refaced in as little as two days.
When you hire a professional to reface your bathroom or kitchen cabinets, the following steps are normally included in the project:
Take detailed measurements
Before starting, the pro will take detailed measurements of your cabinets. They need to know exactly what size cabinets they'll be putting new skins and doors on. Cabinet refacing is an exact process and there is little room for error.
Remove the cabinet doors and drawers from the boxes
Next, the pro will remove the doors and drawers from the cabinet boxes, but leave the boxes in place. They will take off their hardware, too.
Unless the cabinet doors are made of solid slabs of wood that can hold a new veneer, they'll toss them and replace them with entirely new doors.
If the drawer frames are in good shape, they'll keep them and put a new face panel on them. If not, they'll toss those too, and replace them with new drawers.
Install the new veneer skins to the front and sides of the cabinet boxes
Applying the veneer is the most time-consuming step, and will happen in-home. To install it, there will be a work crew in your kitchen or bathroom for a day or two as they cut and apply your wood or laminate veneer to every cabinet surface. Whether you want to use a laminate veneer or a natural wood veneer, you will likely choose from one of the following options:
- Pressure-sensitive adhesive (PSA) wood veneer. PSA comes from the factory with adhesive already on it, and is known as “peel and stick." This veneer is easy to install, and also very thin.
- Wood back. Unlike, PSA, a natural wood back veneer doesn't come with the prefab adhesive. The pro will adhere it to the cabinet boxes with contact cement. Like PSA, it's very thin.
- Veneer core plywood. This type of natural wood veneer comes in either 1/8-inch or ¼-inch thickness, and is attached with either contact cement or nails.
- Medium density fiberboard (MDF) core plywood. MDF, a manmade wood product, comes in either 1/8-inch or ¼-inch thickness and is topped with a decorative wood or plastic veneer. This is a good choice if you want to strengthen your cabinet doors and drawers.
- Solid wood. This type will most closely match the wood grain of the new doors. It's also easy to repair and refinish in the future.
- Rigid thermofoil (RTF): Also known as 3D laminate or thermofoil, RTF is a melamine-based product made to look like wood or other painted surfaces. RTF is low-maintenance and can be shape-shifted into complex designs. It is often used as an alternative to laminate veneer.
Install the drawers
Once the skins are in place on the boxes, the crew will install the new or refurbished drawers in the cabinet boxes.
Mount the doors
The new doors will be put back onto the newly veneered boxes. If the old hinges are in good shape and the match the style you want in your remodel, they will be reused. Otherwise, the company will install new hinges.
The pros will also put new pulls, knobs and other new hardware on at this time.
Add optional accessories
If you're getting new trim, lighting or storage accessories, like, say, a pull-out spice rack, they'll be installed at the end of the project.
Cabinet refacing creates a ton of dust, so the company should do a thorough job of cleaning up with an industrial-sized vacuum.
Most homeowners won't approach a cabinet refacing as a do-it-yourself project, and instead will hire the help of an experienced carpenter or professional to help. When you start looking at cabinet refacing companies near you, make sure you:
- Confirm that your carpenter is licensed: Find a licensed, qualified professional with experience refacing cabinets.
- Get multiple free estimates: Most professionals will do a free design consultation with you to discuss cost, timeframe, process and the best new faces for your cabinets. This is helpful not just to get a confirmation of the total cost of the project, but also to make sure you're all aligned on what you want your new look to be.