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Refinishing or Refacing: Basics

a large kitchen with a center island surrounded by bar stools

You have thought of making some style changes or even making a much larger home remodel in your kitchen? So any homeowner has a big question about replacing your cabinets. You may want to think about reworking, replenishing or refinishing your present cabinets before ripping out your existing kitchen cabinets and entering a complex remodelling project. If your cabinets are in good physical condition, refinishing them might be a much more cost-effective alternative while still providing a pleasant change to your kitchen. To go this way, the cabinets must be free of imperfections such as chips, cracks, cuts, dents, and gouges.


What is refinishing?
The refinishing of the kitchen cabinet will mean you keep all the components in your existing cabinet and change the colour or finish, which is often done with sanding by hand or chemically stripping the existing finish from the wood. Cabinets that have been refaced or resurfaced. As previously mentioned, refacing the cabinets entails applying new material to the current cabinet frames and removing the doors and drawer fronts. All you're doing when refinishing cabinets is adjusting the finish, or colour, of the original materials.


What is refacing?
Refacing, rebooting or refining is cheaper alternatives to fully replace them, in particular, if you are already happy with the kitchen layout. In today's market, substitution costs could be very high, and if your home is older, you likely have higher quality cabinets made from wood than those of more modern times. Renovating and resurfacing cabinets means quite the same thing. In a nutshell, this entails removing all visible parts or surfaces of the cabinets when they are closed or not in operation. Hardware, doors, and drawer fronts will all be replaced, as well as drawer boxes in some cases. Faceplates, end panels, and toe kicks are commonly resurfaced with a mix of laminates and thin wood veneers. If you want to maintain a traditional wood look, refacing is usually the only choice. Going from a dark wood stain to a lighter wood stain and getting stain to match is incredibly difficult if the stain isn't applied to the same species and colour of wood, to begin with. You will be able to refinish the cabinets if your desired look or end result is to be painted.


The need to know
The material under solid-colour cabinets is usually not stainable. Cabinetmakers don't spend a lot of money on stain quality wood just to hide it behind an opaque colour. White cabinets usually have doors made of medium-density fibreboard (MDF), which cannot be stained to resemble wood. What is the reason for this? It's because it's not made of real wood. Even if the doors on solid-colour cabinets are real wood, they are most definitely paint grade, which means that even if they could be stripped to bare wood, they wouldn't look good with stain. Oak cabinets, sadly, are not a good candidate for refinishing. The grain will show right through the paint if you refinish them with a solid colour, lacquer or any other type.


Our Advice to you
If your cabinet doors and drawer fronts are in good shape, but you want more than just new paint, or your hardware and accessories are outdated, there's no excuse not to update or replace your hardware while you're at it. Refinishing or refacing will do the trick and make all your cabinets look brand new.

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