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Updating Kitchen Cabinets: Replace vs Reface, Which is Best for Your Home?

March 18th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Callie Lovejoy

“My kitchen is so dark and old.” 

“I better not stack my plates too high or my cabinet shelves might break.” 

“Hopefully my friend will invite me to their house for dinner so we don’t have to hang out in my outdated kitchen.” 

“I wish I had drawers instead of shelves here.”

If these thoughts have crossed your mind, you might be ready to take the plunge and upgrade your kitchen cabinets. Kitchen remodels can erase these thoughts from your mind by improving the look, quality, and functionality of your kitchen. And make you want to spend time cooking and entertaining in the central hub of your home.

JSB Home Solutions has been remodeling Central Ohio kitchens for 45 years using the two primary forms of cabinet renovation: cabinet refacing and complete cabinet replacement. The decision between refacing your kitchen cabinets and replacing your cabinets can be pivotal as you move through a kitchen remodel project. 

Here, we will discuss the pros and cons of cabinet refacing and cabinet replacement. Regardless of what contractor you work with, you will have all the information necessary to help you choose which kitchen remodeling method is right for you.

What is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing?

In cabinet refacing, the face of the cabinet (the face frame, drawer fronts, drawer boxes, and doors) will be updated with new materials in the style of your choosing. The cabinet box and shelves will remain the same.


Most cabinet refacing projects involve removing the doors and the entire drawer system (drawer front, drawer box, and drawer glides). These pieces will be replaced with new ones to match the material and style chosen for the finished product.

Kitchen cabinet refacing cost and timeline: Refacing kitchen cabinets can take as little as 3 days and save you 5 - 15% over full kitchen cabinet replacement.

Several factors contribute to the success of a kitchen reface for your project. Weigh these pros and cons before deciding if a kitchen reface is the right remodeling method for you.

4 Pros of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

There are four main benefits of opting to reface kitchen cabinets versus replacing them:

  1. Reduced time: Refacing cabinets takes significantly less time than the full replacement of kitchen cabinets. Replacing cabinets generally leaves you without a kitchen for 2-4 weeks while refacing can take as little as 3 days depending on the size of the project.
  2. Less invasive process: Refacing cabinets is a much less invasive process, cutting down on the mess and interruption in your home. Nothing is getting torn off the walls, countertops can remain intact, and sinks are still functional.
  3. You can keep your original countertops: If you are in love with your countertops, you can keep them! This also cuts down on the overall project timeline and cost. You still have the option to replace countertops but it is not a necessity with refacing projects.
  4. Flexibility: You have the flexibility to make changes to cabinet configurations. For example, you can change a cabinet with a single drawer above and two doors below to a cabinet with three large drawers.

2 Cons of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

There are two major considerations before deciding that refacing is the best choice for your kitchen project:

  1. Cabinet boxes remain: The inside of your cabinets will not change. When you open a door, what you see today is what you will see after your refacing project. If your shelves are old and warped with chipped paint, they will stay that way.
  2. Layout is limited: You cannot change the physical location of cabinets since the cabinet boxes do not move. For example, you cannot move a pantry cabinet to the other side of your kitchen because the cabinet box stays attached to the wall.

Sometimes these cons are not issues at all depending on the goals of your kitchen remodel. If this is the case, your next step is to schedule an in-home consultation to discuss your project with a design consultant. However, if they are deal breakers for cabinet refacing, the alternative is to replace your kitchen cabinets completely.

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What is Kitchen Cabinet Replacing?

Replacing kitchen cabinets involves removing the entire existing cabinet, box and all, and replacing them with brand-new cabinets.


Increased timelines and costs compared to refacing are inevitable with a more invasive project but it is a worthy investment for many homeowners depending on the goals of their kitchen renovation.

Kitchen cabinet replacement cost and timeline: Replacing kitchen cabinets can take anywhere from 2 - 5 weeks depending on the scope of work. Most full replacement remodels will cost around $35,000 - $50,000.

Other than the project timeline and cost, there are several pros and cons of cabinet replacement that you should consider as you prepare for your dream kitchen.

3 Pros of Replacing Kitchen Cabinets

There are three advantages that cabinet replacement has over cabinet refacing:

  1. You can do whatever you want with the space! It is a clean slate, a fresh start, and you can choose any cabinets for any location in your kitchen. You can add cabinets where there weren’t any before and you have more flexibility to change the layout of your kitchen.
  2. Your entire cabinet is brand new, inside and out. When JSB replaces your cabinets, you get custom, Amish-built hardwood cabinets. The cabinets are built by hand to fit your exact wall measurements rather than trying to piece together mass-produced cabinets to fit your kitchen.
  3. Every cabinet will have current warranties. For example, JSB cabinets have a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer as well as our limited lifetime craftsmanship warranty.

2 Cons of Replacing Kitchen Cabinets

The two downsides of replacing kitchen cabinets are:

  1. The biggest drawback of entirely replacing your kitchen cabinets is the higher price tag. Budgets are a real thing and can make or break whether a project is done. You should be confident that you renovated your kitchen comfortably within your budget.
  2. The timeline of a full kitchen replacement is extended compared to a refacing project. The added scope of work will require more time to complete. In addition, with any more invasive project, problems can arise. Cabinet construction could be delayed. The installation crew could discover preexisting plumbing issues that need fixing before the project can proceed. 

These cons are often worth the hassle to achieve your dream kitchen. With all this information swirling through your head, how can you decide which remodeling method is right for you?

Is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing or Replacing Right for My Project?

You have issues with your kitchen. You see the outdated, dysfunctional, not-the-dream kitchen every time you walk into the room and you are ready to change the tide.

In the quest for a kitchen transformation, deciding between cabinet refacing and complete cabinet replacement can be a difficult decision. Ultimately, the decision hinges on your preferences, budget constraints, financing options, and the desired impact on your home. You can choose the efficient remodel of refacing or the comprehensive renovation of replacement.

If you are considering a kitchen remodel, check out the full kitchen renovation process and average kitchen remodel costs.