Cabinet Refacing vs. Cabinet Painting

Making the decision on refacing your kitchen cabinets versus painting them really depends on the result you are after. Both are relatively quick to complete, and both will visually enhance the appearance of your kitchen. If you are unsure about what will be best for you and your home, read on and get the low-down on refacing versus painting.

Kitchen Layout:

Refacing is exactly what it sounds like, giving your kitchen a facelift. The overall layout of the kitchen can be modified within reason. Adding or removing a cabinet or island is a possibility. Large modifications to the layout are not recommended.

Painting your cabinets does not allow for a change in kitchen layout.

Kitchen Structure/Framework:

The structure or framework of the original cabinet boxes are reused during the refacing process. The existing cabinet boxes are stripped down and the doors, door hinges, drawers, and drawer boxes are removed.

The structure or framework of the original cabinet boxes are also reused if you choose to paint. The doors, door hinges, drawers, and all hardware are removed. Unlike refacing, the cabinet box will not be covered so if damage is present, you must repair before applying paint.


Refacing requires that all cabinet contents be removed so that the team can remove doors and drawers for cabinet box sanding. Sanding is necessary to make sure that the veneer adheres.

Painting also requires removal of doors, drawers, and hardware. Preparation activities include sanding, repairing, and painting. Don’t forget to tape off the area to be painted!

Durability and Longevity

Refacing is a permanent solution with minimal upkeep. Since doors and drawers are wood or laminate, they are easy to wipe down with a bit of soapy water. They are constructed as one piece so they will not pull apart or dismantle over time.

Painting is a semi-permanent solution with upkeep. When painting, you are to use an oil or latex paint. The surface must be sanded, smooth, dry and primed for paint application. After normal wear and tear, paint may peal or chip. Oil or latex paint attracts dust and grease. You may need to wipe your cabinets down more often.


There is no loss of functionality with cabinet refacing. In fact, it is enhanced. Refacing allows for the installation of soft-close internal mounted hinges for doors and soft close tracks for drawers. There are also a broad range of space saving options that can be added to cabinets as part of the project. If your layout needs slightly modified and a cabinet will be removed, a roll-out can be added to another cabinet to make up for that lost space.

There is no loss of functionality when painting. There also is no gain. Hinges and drawer tracks are often reused.

Visual Appeal:

Cabinet refacing offers an update to the entire kitchen including hardware and space saving options. The most popular style is a white shaker flat panel door. It presents the custom look and feel of a high-end kitchen with soft close doors and solid wood dovetail drawer boxes.

Painted cabinets do not offer an update to the actual door style. But if choosing white paint, you will attain a cleaner look without the door and drawer style upgrade.

Dollars & Cents:

Refacing costs $2,995.00 and up and is based on the overall size of the kitchen and the amount of door and drawer openings.

Painting is less costly. However, the solution is also not permanent.