Start Fresh or Consider Refacing?
What is the tipping point between buying new cabinets and refacing your old ones?
So, you walk into your kitchen each day with less enthusiasm than the last. It’s dated – maybe the finish is worn off in places, the drawers don’t slide well anymore and you can’t fit in that lovely new french door fridge you’ve been coveting for a while. It’s time to do something. The question is, what?
The short answer is; it depends on multiple factors. In this post, I’m going to give you some information that will help you decide what the best option is for you and your situation. Whatever option is right for you, we are always happy to help!
What Does Refacing Cabinets Mean?
Refacing is a process where new doors are installed on your old cabinet boxes. Panels are added to match any exposed ends and edge tape is placed on the front edges of your cabinets, along with new hinges and toe kicks. You can also add crown moulding, light valances and extra cabinets if needed.
Keep in mind, refacing means you are changing the façade of the cabinets, not the boxes themselves. So, while the kitchen will look new, the guts are still the age of the original cabinets. This does mean that the expected lifespan of your “new” kitchen is not as long as if you were starting from scratch. The most expensive part of a cabinet is the door. You need to consider whether the money you are “saving” by keeping the boxes is truly a savings long term. I’ve done both in my own homes over the years, and been happy with the choice I made in each situation. There is a time and place for each.
Key Questions to Ask to Help You Decide
There are a number of questions that I ask clients when trying to help them decide which is best for them:
1. How old is the existing kitchen?
If the existing kitchen is less than 10 years old, that weighs in favour of refacing, more than 20 weighs things heavily in favour of new.
2. What kind of shape are the existing cabinet boxes in?
Refacing is an option if the boxes still look pristine. Make sure there are no issues with crumbling edges, water damage, excessive scratches, and if screws are still holding well on the sides.
3. How well is the existing kitchen layout working for you?
If the layout of the existing kitchen was well planned and is working very well for you, relatively new and in good condition, that weighs in favour of refacing. The more things you want to modify in the process, the narrower the gap between the cost of a new kitchen and refacing. Cutting and putting together a box in a factory requires significantly less labour than modifying boxes on site (it’s a more streamlined process). Potential savings disappear quickly if we are making modifications to the existing cabinets as well as taking the time to re-edge tape, replace hinges and replace doors.
4. Are there any modifications that you would like to make to the function of the existing kitchen?
Would you love to take your upper cabinets to the ceiling, add in some pot and pan drawers, make space for a family sized fridge, add an island, add some solutions for our increasingly complicated garbage/recycle/composting? All these and more generally are addressed best when re-arranging the space. Builders tend to put in the most cost effective kitchens, not the most functional ones.
5. How long are you going to be in that home?
If you are only going to be in the home a short time before selling, the added benefits to you of changing the layout so that room functions better become less important unless the layout is bad enough to hold back the sale of your home. A chat with a realtor who you trust might be a good way to get an unbiased perspective on this.
6. Are you planning to change your kitchen flooring now, or in the near future?
If you have recently spent money on new flooring which goes through a significant portion of your home and was installed around your existing cabinetry, not under, changing the floor plan of your kitchen might be more difficult. Think long and hard about whether you might like to change the layout of your kitchen down the road. At the very least buy plenty of extra flooring material so that it can be patched in if you absolutely have to go this route. Ideally the floors are done at the same time as the kitchen so they go underneath the cabinets.
7. Do you love your existing countertops and backsplash or do you want to change those as well?
This can often be the tipping point. When there has already been significant money invested in granite or quartz countertops, the existing boxes are fairly new and the existing layout works well, then the benefits of refacing start to add up. We have also done jobs where we re-faced the base cabinets and added new uppers to be able save existing countertops.
Examples: What Decisions Did I Make in My Own Homes?
Here’s what I did for two homes I lived in. While these situations may apply to you, you should talk to a kitchen designer before deciding, as we are trained to see options that you may not.
House #1: Refacing Was the Right Solution
The first one was a townhouse which we knew we would only be in for a maximum of 2-3 years. The layout was as good as the space would allow. The cabinet boxes were about 9 years old and we really just hated the way it dated our home.
Refacing allowed us to update the look and make the room seem significantly larger and brighter without the cost of a whole new kitchen. This allowed us to sell quickly and easily when we found our dream home.
Takeaway: The only real problem with the kitchen was cosmetic, so we opted for the cosmetic solution, and it worked.
The next house was one we knew we would be living in until our children grew up and left home. The kitchen had been re-done by the previous owner in the early 80’s. The boxes were not in great shape and the layout was not optimal. We went all in, and now have a kitchen which functions many times better than the original.
We opened up the space to allow more flow and light. This increased both the functional storage and usable counter space astronomically. It will easily look great and hold up well past the time if we choose to sell it someday. The difference is night and day, and we don’t regret a penny that was spent in the process.
Takeaway: when you are going to be in a home for a significant period of time, investing in the optimal solution is often better than wasting money on a solution which doesn’t actually make you happy in the long run.
Our Designers Are Here to Help
If you decide it’s time for a new kitchen, our designers can help. At Copperstone Kitchens, we make your vision come to life, and walk you through all your options.
We’ll be with you from the design to the first dinner in your new kitchen. We deliver complete turnkey results on all of our projects.
Get started today by booking your free, no-obligation consultation. We can’t wait to help.