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Refinishing vs Refacing Kitchen Cabinets - What’s Right for Me?

 Refinishing vs Refacing Kitchen Cabinets - What’s Right for Me?

It’s time for a new look in your kitchen, but you don’t want a long, expensive, messy remodel. So, what’s the best path forward?

More than ever before, homeowners today are focusing on their kitchen’s style and quality. Maybe it’s because your kitchen is such a central hub, often on display in an open concept home, rather than just being a workspace in the back. There’s huge opportunity to showcase your personality too, letting it shine through every color, material choice, and texture, whether you love crisp modern styling or a more retro flair.

All of this has led to a resurgence of interest in refinishing, repainting, and refacing existing cabinetry, working with what you have rather than tearing it all out and starting from scratch. This isn’t just a more economical choice, but it also minimizes waste, saves you time, and preserves what may be beautiful existing cabinets that just need a new look.

As a Bay Area painting company, MB Jessee Painting has been working in and on San Francisco kitchens for over 25 years, along with our other full suite of interior and exterior painting services. Our best advice? Do your homework (reading blogs like this one is a great start!), and take the time to find a qualified cabinet painter. Very few painters know how to paint cabinets correctly, and fewer still truly specialize in the process.

What Is Cabinet Refinishing?

Cabinet refinishing is the process of removing an older finish, then cleaning, prepping, and applying a new finish to existing cabinets.

Under the umbrella term of “refinishing,” you really can nest both staining and painting. Either way, the surfaces are completely transformed to your taste. Just to reiterate, the success of this process hinges on the right surface preparation, environment, equipment, and products.

What Is Cabinet Refacing?

A step between cabinet refinishing and remodeling, cabinet refacing involves replacing your cabinet doors and drawer faces, then painting or staining the cabinet boxes to match.

This can be a good alternative if you have extremely outdated doors or drawers, and you’d much rather start fresh than paint the existing ones.

How Does Cabinet Refinishing Work?

 Refinishing vs Refacing Kitchen Cabinets - What’s Right for Me?

1. Careful preparation

Your cabinet painter will perform extensive prep in your kitchen to protect surrounding surfaces and spaces. They’ll also remove all your cabinet doors, drawer faces, and hardware. This leaves only the cabinet boxes to be painted in your kitchen - all the other surfaces can be prepped, primed, and painted off-site.

2. Cabinet painting

This includes a deep clean, surface repairs, sanding, priming, and painting. Each of these steps is performed in multiple stages, with a professional technician spraying the cabinets for an even, smooth, factory-grade finish. Ideally this is done in a dedicated, enclosed space, reducing the risk of airborne particles or dust contaminating the finish quality.

3. Cabinet reassembly

The components are then brought back to your kitchen and reassembled before a final touch-up, as needed. Our services also include optional hardware updates, including soft close hinges, new pulls, etc. Not every painter offers this extra value, but it’s something we like to include as a way to additionally update your cabinets, if you’d like.

4. Final walkthrough

As a last step, your painter should perform a final job walk with you, answering any additional questions you might have, and ensuring that every aspect of the work meets your standards (and theirs).

How Much Does Cabinet Painting Cost?

 Refinishing vs Refacing Kitchen Cabinets - What’s Right for Me?

It might sound cliche, but you really do get what you pay for.

You can find painters who will do the work cheaply, but the finish quality and longevity will reflect the workmanship. Especially in such a high-wear area of your home, we recommend investing in professional cabinet painting services from a proven painter that has strong reviews and guarantees their work.

Specific costs depend on the size of the kitchen and number of cabinets being painted, but on “average” you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000. Still an investment, but certainly a savings over a remodel that can easily cost 5-10 times that.

What’s Right for Me?

A full kitchen remodel might be best if…

  • Your kitchen’s current size and layout just doesn’t work for you

  • Your cabinets are in bad condition, and you need other components too like new counters, backsplash, and floors

  • Your kitchen is currently not up to code, maybe because you’re remodeling an older home

  • You need specific, structural changes

Cabinet refacing might be best if…

  • Your cabinet doors and/or drawer faces are in bad condition

  • Your doors and drawer faces are made from cheaper materials that just aren’t worth painting, or can’t be painted

  • The structural style of your doors and drawer faces don’t work for you, regardless of their color or finish quality

Cabinet painting might be best if…

  • Your cabinets are in good condition overall, but just not the color or style you'd like

  • Your cabinets are good quality, and worth investing in

  • Your kitchen’s overall layout and design meets your needs

  • You’re craving a new look, but don’t want or need full remodel

If you have more questions about cabinet painting or refinishing, reach out to us at MB Jessee Painting! It would be our pleasure to chat with you and help you make the right choice for your kitchen.

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“Edy and crew are hard at work. They are doing a great job. Very professional outfit you have. Your crew is a delight. You may use me for a reference!”

— Heidi B
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