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Home Improvement Guide 2007
Get ready
Before starting any home improvement project, research and planning is the key to successful results.
Kitchen remodel: Replace or reface cabinets?

Your kitchen is in dire need of remodeling, and those outdated cabinets are first to go. But how do you decide to reface or replace? It depends on factors including cost, changes in layout and construction chaos.

Refacing can include replacing hardware, repainting cabinets, installing new wood or laminate veneer over doors and drawer fronts, or installing entirely new doors and drawer fronts and staining the sides to match.

Think of it as re-skinning the cabinets, and once the old faces are removed, special tools are required to laminate the door fronts with adhesive veneers. If veneers can't affix to the doors and drawer fronts, then new ones will be needed to fit existing cabinet boxes.

The cost of refacing ranges from $150 to $200 per door and drawer front, estimates Dave Hare, owner of Custom Kitchen Cabinet & Refacing Co., in Amherst, N.Y. An average kitchen has 30 pieces, which equals to about a $6,000 investment.

Although he recommends replacing, if the kitchen has quality cabinets to start with, sometimes refacing is a good way to go if you don't want to change the layout of your kitchen, says Michael Hydeck, a certified remodeler and certified kitchen and bath remodeler for more than 20 years in Telford, Pa..

"You're basically putting a surface on the top of the cabinet face," Hydeck says. "You're changing the color and the look of your original cabinets and you're adding a surface onto it."

Hydeck adds that homeowners could see savings if they have a cheap cabinet made with a product like formica that won't cost as much to reface as other products.

And refacing helps avoid the unexpected costs involved in replacing, which can include delivery and installation fees, repairs to walls and floors and other charges that can more than triple the price of new cabinets, Hare says. Refacing has labor costs, but takes less time and manpower.

"You can't tell the difference between it and a brand new kitchen, and you save a lot of money on floors and walls and things that normally are damaged somewhat to put new cabinets," he says.

It's also an option for homeowners who don't want to rip apart their kitchen for new cabinets to be installed.

"You can still maintain your kitchen without having to tear everything out," says Bob Garner, president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association.

If choosing the refacing route, Hydeck suggests using a company that specializes in the trade instead of a general contractor.

Hare, whose company also sells how-to refacing videos, mostly to contractors, says do-it-yourselfers can do it. He recommends installing new doors and drawer fronts, so a table saw or woodworking tool to cut the wood is required.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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