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7 Things to Consider Before Refinishing Your Kitchen Cabinets

April 21, 2012

(C) 2011 Suncrest Builders, Inc
Successful Counter Replacement

When looking at replacing an old tile or laminate counter, invariably, the question of whether or not to replace the cabinets comes into play. There are cabinet re-finishers in every town that can offer to refinish old worn face frames and cabinet doors. I’ve found that the cost of doing this is substantial. Doors with detail can be very expensive to refinish. Companies selling their services will make a persuasive argument about why their services are a “good deal” compared new cabinets. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes the face frames (front of the cabinet boxes) are worth saving and can be refinished. New doors and drawer faces can be purchased and then stained to match.

When making this decision I recommend the following 7 considerations before being able to determine what decision will produce the best value for your investment.

1. Are the cabinet boxes of a good quality solid wood? If the boxes are a press-board with a veneer finish, don’t throw good money after bad.

2. Are your drawer’s press-board with a stapled box? If so, they are not worth salvaging. One good slam and your drawer fronts will easily break off. I wouldn’t keep those cabinets.

3. Do your bottom cabinets have pull out shelving, or do they have half shelves? If so, you should probably not try to save them.

4. Is the door and drawer hardware of good quality so that the doors are hung squarely and the drawers slide easily. Are the hinges the old exposed style? If you’re finding any of these issues to be staring back at you when you look at your cabinets, it’s time to embrace a new more modern cabinet.

5. Is the wood of good quality? Are the drawers or face frames dry and split. If so, they’re gonners.

6. Does the layout of the kitchen best serve the needs of your lifestyle. Are additional cabinets needed to in order for the kitchen to serve those needs optimally? If so, they need to match. Door styles are always changing. It’s improbable that new doors will match old doors exactly.

7. Are the current appliances older? New appliances may be bigger or smaller and the cabinets will need to be adjusted to those new sizes. In this case, it may become cost prohibitive to save the cabinets and pay for custom cabinetry to fill the spaces or be cut down.

I’ve seen many situations where a beautiful solid surface counter is put on top of old and out dated

(C) 2009 Suncrest Builders, Inc

cabinets. As the saying goes, don’t put “lipstick on a pig”. It doesn’t fool anyone. It doesn’t add to your resale value. It won’t add a lot to the overall value you will get from your investment while living in your home. Save your money until you can afford to take on the entire project that will give you the most value. If you have to wait another year or two to do the project, I guarantee, it will be worth the wait. If you’re thinking that adding the new counter will help for a home that needs to be put on the market, it is still unlikely that you are fooling anyone. Offer an “allowance” in your listing of what the cost of a new counter would be estimated to be. I’ve found that you’ll get much more bang for your buck that way.

Do you have any experiences or insight regarding a beautiful new counter on top of old and tired cabinets? Please share with us.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. astraton permalink
    April 22, 2012 7:05 am

    This is a great blog on refinishing your kitchen cabinets! I can’t wait to try this at my house!

  2. June 3, 2012 7:43 pm

    As a cabinetmaker and kitchen designer myself, I totally agree with you that band-aid solutions like expensive counters over out-dated and worn-out cabinetry should be avoided when renovating your kitchen. Trying to pull a fast one like that on prospective home buyers (if that’s the intention) will only backfire. Also it’s important to note, very few contractors will guarantee not damaging the new expensive countertops when, inevitably, the old cabinets have to be torn out from underneath and replaced. Great article!

  3. June 3, 2012 8:09 pm

    Thank you Scott. You bring up another very good point that I had forgotten. You’re so right. It has been our experience that no one wants to guarantee that the new counter will make it through the ordeal.

  4. July 19, 2012 1:52 am

    I`m really inspire as the article contains really amazing and helpful techniques to change kitchen cabinets. Well i agree with Scott that after some times, refreshing of cabinets become necessary object to fulfill it. Also the article contains such beautiful designs of renovating your kitchen cabinets and i really want to try these in my kitchen. Thanks.
    Westchester General Contractors

  5. February 2, 2017 11:04 pm

    Beautiful cabinet counter for the kitchen. Really unique and beautiful cabinets makes the kitchen shinny and modern.


  1. 8 Tips For Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets | OrganizationAccessories

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