Are you ready to give your kitchen a new look? Do you want to freshen up your cabinets, but you don’t know how to approach the project? Depending on your needs and budget, you can choose to either resurface your kitchen cabinets or replace them entirely. Both options have benefits and drawbacks, so continue reading to find out information that will help you decide which type of project is right for you and your home.

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Resurfacing Kitchen Cabinets

Generally, if your kitchen cabinets are in good condition, and you don’t want to do a complete remodel, resurfacing may be the right choice for your kitchen. During this process, the cabinet boxes you already have are maintained while other components—such as drawer fronts, cabinet doors, hardware, and moldings—are replaced. Alternatively, if you don’t replace the drawers and doors, you may choose to repaint or install new wood or laminate veneer on the existing components. 

There are several advantages of resurfacing your kitchen cabinets:

  • Keeping the current kitchen layout. If you like the space the way it currently is, resurfacing your cabinets will allow you to retain the look and functionality of your kitchen.
  • Making your home improvement project green. If you want a green option, resurfacing your kitchen cabinets is the way to go because it will prevent your cabinet boxes from being thrown away into a landfill and putting hazardous chemicals into the air.
  • Getting the project completed quickly. If you want to get your kitchen cabinets looking good as new, but you don’t want the project to take an extensive amount of time, resurfacing is a faster option than replacement, and can be done within about one week.

On the other hand, some disadvantages of this type of project include the fact that the structure of your kitchen will not change as your needs change, so if you need a different footprint, it’s not possible with resurfacing. Similarly, if your kitchen has a bad design, you won’t be able to address the problem by resurfacing your cabinets.

If you choose this option, you can expect to pay around $1,000 to $9,000 based on the size of your kitchen. This type of home improvement project can save you a significant amount of money compared to replacement—about 30 to 50 percent, depending on the professional you choose to do the work. 

Replacing Kitchen Cabinets

In some cases, resurfacing cabinets is not the right choice for a homeowner, particularly if the cabinets are beginning to have structural issues that are causing them to fall apart or if they have developed rust. In order to get your cabinets replaced, your existing cabinets will need to be completely removed and new ones installed.

Just as with resurfacing, replacing kitchen cabinets has some pros and cons. Some of the advantages of getting new cabinets installed include:

  • More choices. Generally, replacing cabinets opens up choices that allow you to change the look and feel of your kitchen entirely to meet your current needs. If you are planning a remodel of your whole kitchen, it makes more sense to replace the cabinets, rather than make improvements on existing ones. In addition, you may have more choices when it comes to contractors that you hire. Generally, you are more likely to find professionals who specialize in replacing kitchen cabinets than those who are able to resurface them.
  • Lengthening the cabinets. If your cabinets have 12 to 18 inches of free space near the ceiling, installing new cabinets will be a good choice for you because the modern styles of cabinetry tend to lengthen to the ceiling. That way you can use the extra space to hold kitchen accessories, as well as make an artistic statement.
  • Avoiding lead. If your kitchen cabinets were painted before 1978, the paint may have lead in it. As a result, resurfacing may cause the lead to contaminate your entire kitchen, so it may be safer for your family to replace the cabinets entirely. 

On the other hand, getting new cabinets may leave you with a lower quality product because, depending on how old your existing cabinets are, the materials may be a higher grade, and the cabinets themselves may have been constructed better than some of the products on the market today. In addition, unlike with resurfacing, replacing your kitchen cabinets will mean that you’ll be unable to use your kitchen throughout the duration of the project—which can take around three months to complete.

When you take the step to have your kitchen cabinets replaced, you can pay around $4,000 to $20,000, depending on how big your kitchen is.