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Can I Update Kitchen Cabinets without Replacing Them?

March 25th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Callie Lovejoy

Your kitchen cabinets are outdated and make you turn up your nose when you walk into the room. But the thought of forking out money AND being without a kitchen for weeks so you can replace the cabinets makes you a little sick to your stomach.

Enter: kitchen cabinet refacing! 

Kitchen cabinet refacing is an alternative to cabinet replacement that saves you time, money, and hassle on your renovation. 

JSB Home Solutions has saved Central Ohio homeowners, like you, the unnecessary headache of full kitchen cabinet replacement for 45 years by offering cabinet refacing. Regardless of who you work with for your cabinet upgrades, you will have the information necessary to decide if kitchen cabinet refacing will help you achieve your dream kitchen.

In this article, we will cover:

Parts of a Kitchen Cabinet

Before we jump into the deep end of kitchen cabinet renovations, let’s learn some terminology to help us swim.


Cabinet Box: the structural shell of the cabinet; supports the doors, drawers, shelves, and countertop.

Shelf: a shelf to put things on.

Face Frame: the front face of the cabinet; stiffens the box and provides a solid mount for hinges.

Toe Kick: recessed, flat piece of lower cabinets under the drawers or doors.

Door: the door; is usually made of 5 pieces including 2 vertical stiles, 2 horizontal rails, and a raised panel in the middle.

Hinge: a metal piece that connects the door to the cabinet and allows the door to swing open and close.

Drawer Front: the piece of the drawer that is visible when the drawer is closed.

Drawer Box: the container part of the drawer which is only visible when the drawer is open.

Drawer Glides: metal supports that provide a smooth surface for the drawer to open and close on.

Base or lower cabinets sit on the floor and support the countertop.  These cabinets hold sinks, stoves, and ovens, and sit next to dishwashers and refrigerators. They can be any combination of drawers and doors with fixed shelves, adjustable shelves, or pull-out shelves. Kitchen cabinet features are endless! Base cabinets also include tall pantry cabinets.

Wall or upper cabinets hang on the wall. These typically only have doors and fixed or adjustable shelves. 

With our technical lingo squared away, we are ready to explore kitchen cabinet refacing.

What is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing?

In cabinet refacing, the face of the cabinet (the face frame, drawer fronts, 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.


When the project is done, you will not be able to tell that your old cabinets have “just” been refaced. Your refaced cabinets will look like brand-new cabinets. Can you spot the refaced kitchen in the pictures below?


If you chose the one on the left, you are correct! You are not limited on what colors and styles you can choose from when you opt for cabinet refacing. Since the doors, drawer fronts,  and drawer boxes will be new, they are exactly the same pieces that would be used to build brand-new cabinets for a kitchen cabinet replacement project.

Project timeline and cost are important considerations when planning a kitchen remodel. Ultimately, cabinet refacing can save you time and money.

Timeline of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinet refacing is efficient and can be completed in as little as three days! While we can’t speak for all Ohio contractors, here at JSB Home Solutions, the process would look like this:

    1. Install new countertops on existing cabinet boxes. This happens first to avoid damaging your brand-new cabinet face frames, and to ensure the cabinets are level when we are finished. If you are keeping your countertops, skip this step.
    2. The crew will remove old cabinet doors, drawer fronts, drawer boxes, and drawer glides. These will be disposed of, not covered up.
    3. The crew will cover existing cabinet boxes with your chosen quarter-inch hardwood, called S4S. S4S comes in 8-foot sections and is cut to size on-site.
    4. The crew will put on the new doors, drawer fronts, drawer boxes, and drawer glides.

Voila! Your kitchen reface project is complete! Short timelines are fantastic, especially in a highly functional space like a kitchen. But cost is another important piece of the puzzle when deciding which kitchen remodel method is right for you.

Cost of Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

The cost of refacing your cabinets will vary drastically due to the quality of the material being used. 

For example, here at JSB, we use a quarter-inch hardwood panel that gets pinnailed to the original box for refacing. Some companies use an eighth-inch laminate that is glued to the cabinet surface. Thicker materials made of real wood are going to be more expensive than thinner materials made of wood imitation. The benefit is that the thicker hardwood will last significantly longer.

You can save money by refacing your kitchen cabinets compared to replacing your cabinets, but the difference may not be as much as you expect. Generally, you can save anywhere from 5 to 15% by choosing to reface kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them altogether.

At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you make the best decision for your home, family, budget, and lifestyle. 

Is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Right for My Project?

You have a vision for your kitchen to bring it from drab to fab! But time and cost are major factors holding you back from making your kitchen dream a reality.

Kitchen cabinet refacing may be the solution you have been looking for to save time and money on your project. Weighing the pros and cons of cabinet refacing and replacing will help you be confident in your choice, should you decide to reface your kitchen cabinets. 

We at JSB Home Solutions are passionate about making sure homeowners like you, achieve your vision in your home remodeling projects. If you would like to talk to experts more about refacing your kitchen cabinets, you can schedule an in-home consultation with one of our design consultants.