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The Dilemma Of The Three R’s (reface, refinish, replace)

You’ve probably heard that refacing or refinishing your old cabinets will save you tons of money. You’ve noticed that your old cabinets are all wood and you think they have “good bones”. Maybe you’ve heard that “they don’t build ’em like this anymore”. They might have had good bones once and no, they don’t build them like that anymore – They’re much better now but we’ll come back to that later.

Platinum Kitchens chooses to avoid two of the R’s and recommends replacement as the better solution:

Refacing – This is where your old cabinets get new door and drawer fronts and the cabinet boxes themselves may get veneer coverings on the face frame and sides. New crown and other moldings can sometimes be replaced and upgraded. This is extremely labor intensive both during the initial install and requires a great deal of service / maintenance. Refacing costs only slightly less, equal to or even more money than new cabinetry depending on who’s providing the quote. Over time the veneers peel leaving you with a new aggravation and less money to redo your kitchen the way it really should have been done from the start. One of the main gripes about refacing is that the configuration and overall usefulness of the kitchen doesn’t change, or if it does, you’ve spent way too much money to maintain some old cabinet carcasses.

Refinishing – Painting or having the existing cabinets faux finished would fall into this category. It is a quick fix and sometimes equates to (sorry I have to say this) putting “lipstick on a pig”. This offers no new functionality only a new look. The new finish looks great when first completed but quickly chips, scratches or peels.

Old cabinets

Let’s look at the above photo. Had these homeowners gone the path of refacing or refinishing they would have had to address a few important questions:

1. What do we do about the soffit above the cabinets? – Unless you’re getting new cabinets the soffit has to stay but who wants to go through this expense and keep a useless soffit that is taking up storage and visual space?

2. Can we do a 24″ deep fridge surround for a better look and the ability to actually use the cabinet above the fridge? – The answer is “no” if you decide to keep the cabinets.

3. We would like to gain access to the dead corners of our current layout. Can we do that? – Again, the answer is “no”. Unless you are going to change out the cabinets for better functionality these corners remain difficult to access.

4. Can we make better use of the space taken up by the face-frame of the cabinet? – Not with new fronts or new paint. That only changes the exterior not the interior.

One of the other options with both of the above methods is that homeowners often choose to get new granite counter-tops and back-splash at the time they are refinishing or refacing. If, after a few years, it is discovered that one of these two methods was not the correct path and you’re ready for new cabinets you will find that the new counter-top and tile back-splash may not be able to be salvaged. Granite does not like to be moved once installed – It can break around the sink cutout or suffer other damage. Tile often breaks as the counter-top is removed.

New cabinets offer a new look, new storage solutions, a possible new layout and a new level of quality. Good quality cabinets are well constructed and, if KCMA certified, undergo multiple tests each year to ensure structural integrity as well as a durable finish. Chances are strong that your old cabinets have served well but they have done their time. For a real change and cost effective improvement, replacing your cabinets provides enhanced functionality as well as adding better value to your home.

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