Solid wood cabinetry in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas of a home can almost always be refinished for less than the cost of replacing cabinets with new ones. Hiring a professional to refinish cabinet doors, drawer faces and cabinet frames can create the look of new cabinets for one-third to one-half the cost of installing new cabinets. Most contractors recommend one of three primary methods for refacing:
Refinish or paint cabinet and drawer fronts.
Install new wood or laminate veneer over existing cabinet and drawer fronts.
Install completely new cabinet doors and drawer fronts.
Other cabinet materials, such as metal or laminate, can be refinished or refaced, but wood is the most versatile. If existing cabinets have a wood veneer or laminate finish made from another material, it may be possible to have them refaced with a new veneer.
The size of the room and how many linear feet of cabinets need to be refinished affects the total cost. Chris Botta, owner of Affordable Cabinet Refinishing in Phoenix, Arizona, typically charges $38 per linear foot of cabinetry and has developed a way to refinish clients’ cabinets in place rather than removing all hardware, cabinet doors and drawer faces. Botta says it costs $1,800–$2,200 to refinish the cabinets in the kitchen of a typical 2,000- to 2,500-square-foot home. Because he is licensed as a contractor specializing in refinishing cabinets, the amount Botta can charge for a refinishing project is capped at $5,000. Installing new cabinets (and countertops) in an average-size kitchen can cost $5,000–$25,000.
Cabinet design and layout
In some cases, the existing layout of a kitchen or other cabinetry adds complexity to the job because of tight angles, cabinets installed in corners that have double hinged doors or other situations that make it difficult for refinishers to do their work. If a cabinet door or drawer knocks into other surfaces when open, refinishing can get tricky. Difficult layouts can add some cost to the overall project total because refinishers may have to remove doors to refinish them outside or in another location then reattach them after they are dry.
Choosing paint versus stain for the new finish also affects the price. Staining cabinets requires removal of the existing finish, which can be time-consuming if there is ornate detail work on the cabinetry or if the existing paint or stain is difficult to remove. Having solid wood cabinets refinished with stain rather than paint typically costs more because the pro will need to strip the existing finish from the cabinets and complete any surface prep or repairs on each door or drawer face before restaining. Adding a clear coat finish also adds to the total cost.
Vintage or period cabinets that are in rough shape but structurally sound can be refinished, but it will most likely cost more if the contractor has to deal with vintage hardware, special finishes or period-specific construction techniques during the refinishing process. Repairs may be needed, for example, which will take more time and add to the bill.
Hardware and accessories
Changing out the hardware on cabinets at the same time they are refinished is a relatively affordable add-on, depending on how many new knobs or pulls are needed. Handles and knobs range from $3–$15 each from hardware stores and cabinet showrooms. Adding interior accessories, such as organizers, increases the cost and not all cabinet refinishing services offer this option.