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What is the difference between cabinet refacing and cabinet refinishing?

Posted by info on 4/2/2011


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This question was asked twice last week by our customers and made us realize that the two methods of updating existing cabinetry are often used interchangeably even though they entail completely different processes and costs.

There are certainly differing opinions on what each terms specifically refers to, but most construction professionals believe that cabinet refacing is more extensive in the scope of work required and involves installing new cabinet doors, new drawer fronts, and sometimes drawer boxes.  If the cabinetry is built with a face-frame, then the front-facing portions of this frame must also be covered with new material which is typically done using natural wood veneer or laminate material.  Since portions of the cabinetry are completely replaced, the cost of refacing your cabinets is higher than simply re-using the existing material.

Refinishing cabinetry on the other hand involves essentially placing new finish on existing cabinet doors, drawer fronts, face-frame, and side panels.  The existing material must however be in decent structural shape to allow for this service to be completed – to prepare the existing cabinet parts for the new finish we will strip the old doors and drawer fronts of the old finish and sand everything to a smooth texture.  All of this is done away from your home at our facility in Huntington Beach and only work related to preparing and finishing the face-frame is completed on-site at your residence or business, which typically takes one full day to complete.  This preparation phase of the refinishing process is the most critical because if not done properly you will see all the imperfections after the new finish is applied, especially if it’s a glossy solid color lacquer.  Once the cabinet parts are prepared and finished at our shop we bring all the newly finished materials back to your home or business and re-install everything within a couple hours.

While the labor involved in refinishing cabinetry is practically the same as that in cabinet refacing, the re-use of the existing cabinet parts will save you a good amount of money and time otherwise needed to build new doors and drawer fronts.
By Alex Jochai
Stonebelt Cabinets
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