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Refacing cabinets is a much more affordable way to refresh a bathroom or kitchen than replacing the cabinets wholesale — in fact, it generally costs about half as much. Older homes were often built with sturdier materials than new homes, so existing cabinets may be in good condition but need just a new, updated look. Refacing cabinets includes covering the exposed frames with a thin veneer of wood or plastic laminate, then replacing the doors and drawer fronts to match the new veneer. New hinges, knobs, pulls and molding are also added to complete the fresh look.

Refacing cabinets also takes less time than replacing them — maybe a week at the most — with less hassle. The kitchen remains functional during the refacing, too. Refacing is often more environmentally friendly because no old wood is going to the landfill.

Material

Cabinet veneers come in myriad colors, patterns, textures and grains. Some are intended to mimic real wood, while other, more expensive options are made from actual oak, cherry or maple. The least expensive veneers are made from rigid thermofoil (RTF), which consists of a durable plastic coating over fiberboard. Plastic laminates, a mid-range option, come in hundreds of colors and patterns, and are moisture-resistant and hard-wearing.

Estimate

While replacing kitchen cabinets can range from $4,000 to $15,000 or more for a standard 10-foot by 12-foot kitchen, refacing costs just $1,000-$9,000. Laminate veneers run from $1,000 to $3,000, while wood refinishings cost $2,500-$6,000. A larger project done with the highest-quality wood veneer may cost between $7,000 and $9,000 or more. Most pieces of standard new hardware such as drawer pulls, hinges, and handles cost from $2 to $4 each. On average, homeowners spend about $6,500 on refacing their kitchen cabinets.

Cost per linear foot

Many estimates are based on kitchen cabinets measuring 20 linear feet. The average cost of a basic refinishing project is $60 per linear foot; a medium-grade veneer costs $80 per linear foot on average; and the highest-quality wood veneers cost an average of $115 per linear foot.

Because bathroom cabinets are much smaller than those in the kitchen, a bathroom project will probably cost at least half what a kitchen costs.

DIY cabinet refacing versus hiring a pro

Although home improvement stores offer refinishing kits for the ambitious do-it-yourselfer, you’ll get the most attractive cabinet refacing and refinishing results by enlisting a professional cabinet refinisher. They have the right tools, materials and know-how to reface or refinish cabinets in the least time. Look for pros, such as K Cabinet in Lombard, Illinois, or WoodPro Experts in West Jordan, Utah, who have experience installing a wide variety of veneers and who stock different styles of doors and drawer fronts.

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Millions of people ask Thumbtack for help with their projects every year. We track the estimates they get from local professionals, then we share those prices with you.