By Andy Meredith
When Candis and I renovate an old house, we almost always run into some crazy surprises along the way. Some of those can end up being pretty expensive, so we like to try to leave a little bit of room in the budget whenever possible on other parts of the house so that those surprises aren’t quite as bad.
One of the best places to save some cash is in the kitchen. While you can be almost certain that you’re going to have to replace the kitchen countertop, you might be surprised at what else you can salvage and refinish, especially when it comes to your kitchen cabinets.
If your cabinets aren’t dry-rotted, vandalized, or structurally damaged in any other way, then you can reface them to create a really attractive, classic look that will still feel updated. Plus, you won’t have to buy new cabinets, which can save you a lot of money on your renovation budget. So how do you reface or refinish your cabinets? And how can you tell if it’s worth the time and energy to do it?
Can Your Cabinets Be Restored?
If you’re working with an older home, then you probably have solid wood cabinets that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear. If that’s the case, then you’re looking at cabinets that are definitely worth refacing because they’ll continue to look great and function well for years to come.
If you’re dealing with older particleboard cabinets, take a look at the shelves and the structure of the cabinets themselves. If the laminate coating is coming off or the boards are starting to sag, it’s probably best to replace them. Likewise, even if you have solid wood cabinets, if there’s a lot of water damage, I hate to say it, but it’s probably time to let them go.
The Refacing Process
There are basically three ways to reface a set of cabinets. First, you can refinish your existing cabinets as they are. This will most likely require you to sand down the current finish and then repaint or stain it to get the look you want.
If the cabinets are structurally sound but they have a lot of superficial damage, you might want to consider one of the other two options: adding a new wood or laminate veneer covering to give them a facelift or replacing the drawer fronts and cabinet doors. I’m a bigger fan of replacing doors and fronts than adding laminate covers, but which option you choose is up to you. Some laminates have gotten so good that you really can’t tell the difference, but some buyers are sticklers for real wood, especially buyers who love old homes.
New Hardware Can Give Old Cabinets New Life
Whether you choose to repaint, recover, or replace parts of your cabinets and drawers, I definitely recommend going with new hardware. In most of the houses we renovate, cabinet and drawer hardware is rusted, mismatched, or missing, so it’s just a good idea to go with new hardware that will look good with the look of your new kitchen.
Now you have a basic idea of what goes into refacing kitchen cabinets and whether or not it’s a good idea for your next renovation project. Refacing and refinishing kitchen cabinets can save you a lot of money, but it does take time, and it’s not right for every cabinet. Take a good look at your kitchen cabinets to see if they’re likely candidates for refacing or if it’s time to replace them.