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What is Cabinet Refacing?

S. Mithra
S. Mithra

Cabinet refacing involves replacing or veneering the parts of the cabinet that are visible all the time. The cabinet boxes, called the cases, stay in their current layout, but get a new finish with veneer. Other parts, such as drawer fronts and cabinet doors, get completely replaced. The decoration can be finished off with complementary trim and cabinet hardware.

For a small budget and tight schedule, cabinet refacing can bring a whole new look to a kitchen. When a homeowner refaces his cabinets, he keeps the existing structure but spruces up hardware, drawer fronts, cabinet doors, and exterior surfaces. This way, he can rework an already adequate kitchen with a facelift without interrupting his busy life.

Many homeowners paint or stain the cabinet faces themselves.
Many homeowners paint or stain the cabinet faces themselves.

Many people turn to refacing when they'd like to update their kitchen but don't have a huge budget and can't manage total demolition. With this technique, it's easy to coordinate a new floor or wall paint and end up with a beautiful new room for much less cost than true remodeling. It is also appealing as a do-it-yourself project within reach of an amateur carpenter.

Stick on veneer is a quick, affordable way to reface cabinets.
Stick on veneer is a quick, affordable way to reface cabinets.

For example, a person could do a quick cabinet refacing project where he covers his existing cabinets with veneer. If the cabinet doors are smooth, called flat panel, a homeowner can use wood veneer in another color, rather than replacing the doors. Most veneer is peel-and-stick or iron-on. The most important step is cleaning the surface thoroughly so the veneer adheres properly. The cabinet cases can be covered with sheet veneer in the same way.

Kitchen with refaced cabinets.
Kitchen with refaced cabinets.

A more complicated process might involve removing and replacing all doors and drawers. This way, a homeowner can get fancier, brighter, or richer surfaces in his kitchen that result in a more dramatic change. Drawer fronts with integrated handles that look like cubbyholes for the fingers could be added, for example, or a couple of doors on a set of cabinets above a counter could be replaced with windowpanes to show off collectible dessert plates or fluted baking tins. A regal look can be accomplished with small braid trim on the fronts of doors and wide crown molding along the top of cabinetry.

Along with straightforward refacing, a homeowner might use this opportunity to accomplish other improvements that make the kitchen easier to use. For example, it is fairly easy to add a lazy Susan in a corner cabinet and roll-out shelving for heavy pots that allow a person to use existing cabinet space more efficiently. Self-closing hinges are helpful for someone who is constantly opening and closing doors.

Discussion Comments


@kylee07drg – Glass cabinet doors would be awesome! I wish I had thought of that before I embarked on the project.

I decided to buy my own cabinet refacing supplies and go the cheapest route. This was a big mistake. I made a mess of things, and I will need to hire a professional to help me clean it up.

I bought some peel and stick veneer that looked like wood. It had a grain pattern, and I figured it would be easy to apply.

Well, I couldn't keep it taut, and it got wrinkles and bubbles in it. I ended up just stopping halfway through and returning the extra rolls of veneer.


I have an artistic friend who does a lot of work with punched tin, so I decided to hire her to help me reface my cabinet doors. Places that offer custom cabinet refacing didn't have any unique options that interested me, so I thought that hiring an artist would be the best way to go.

She measured my cabinets and cut pieces of tin to fit on top of them. She punched the image of a lighthouse into one of them, and she did several other beach related images on the others.

My house is full of wicker furniture, seashells, and other types of ocean décor, so I wanted my cabinet doors to match the theme. She did a great job with the refacing, and the only material I had to buy was the tin!


After we moved into our new home, I had trouble remembering what I had stored in each cabinet. The doors were not very attractive anyway, so we figured that refacing the kitchen cabinets would be a good idea.

I wanted to get semi-transparent glass facing. That way, I could see what I had stored in each cabinet without having to open the doors.

I didn't want fully transparent glass, because being able to see all the boxes of food and all the dishes could easily make the kitchen look cluttered. I just wanted to be able to see enough to know what was in there.

The glass that I got is etched with designs, so it is very attractive. I think that it makes my kitchen look much more glamorous!


I was having problems with accidentally bumping my head on open cabinet doors all the time. So, I decided that refacing the cabinet doors would be a good idea.

I wanted to get hinges that would allow them to shut automatically. This way, if I wasn't actually holding one open, it would close. That's what I really needed, because the hinges that I did have would allow the doors to reopen partially once I shut them, and this was a pain.

I didn't care as much about their appearance as I did their function. I am just glad that I don't have to deal with bumps and bruises from my cabinet doors anymore!

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    • Many homeowners paint or stain the cabinet faces themselves.
      By: ChmpagnDave
      Many homeowners paint or stain the cabinet faces themselves.
    • Stick on veneer is a quick, affordable way to reface cabinets.
      By: Jovan Nikolic
      Stick on veneer is a quick, affordable way to reface cabinets.
    • Kitchen with refaced cabinets.
      Kitchen with refaced cabinets.