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Mike Holmes Weighs In: Should I Paint, Reface or Replace My Kitchen Cabinets?

Mike Holmes Weighs In: Should I Paint, Reface or Replace My Kitchen Cabinets?
Mike Holmes {L) as seen on Holmes:Next Generation As seen on Holmes: Next...

Mike Holmes is one of HGTV Canada’s go-to contractors and the host of Holmes and HolmesHolmes: Buy it Right and Home to Win.

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Your kitchen cabinets take up a lot of real estate in your kitchen, so if they’re showing their age, they can start to drag down the look and value of the whole room. While we all dream of doing the big kitchen renovation, if that’s not in the cards, focusing on your cabinetry may be a good project to tackle to update your kitchen. The big question I hear a lot is: should I be replacing my cabinets entirely or can I get away with painting or refacing them?

Painting
The big difference between painting (or refinishing) and refacing your cabinets is pretty simple. Painting your cabinets freshens up the existing look of your kitchen cabinetry, while refacing them gives it a new look almost entirely. Either way, both choices give you a less expensive option in lieu of doing a full replacement, which is great for any homeowner on a budget. While painting tends to be the cheaper of the two, painted cabinets build up grease and dust more easily than refaced cabinets, so they’ll require more maintenance.

Related: 20 Timeless Kitchen Cabinet Ideas for Your Next Remodel

Refacing
Refacing your cabinets means replacing all the front facing parts of the cabinet (doors and drawers), but leaving the rest in place. You keep the existing cabinetry framework, but still give it a new look that can change the mood of your kitchen dramatically. You’re looking at a drastically reduced cost to reface your cabinets instead of a full replacement.

Refacing is a pretty quick, simple process that can be completed in a matter of days. Because you’re only replacing front-facing hardware, you’re not disturbing any plumbing or wires that run through the kitchen. The framework of the cabinets needs to be in good shape to be refaced. If their integrity is compromised (such as the cabinet walls feeling soft or the cabinet box is too old to drill new holes), you’re looking at a replacement instead.

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Replacing
Your kitchen will see a lot of wear and tear over the years and your cabinets might take a beating. Most cabinets are made from wood, so water damage is a concern, especially if you’ve sprung a leak. If the wood is starting to warp, showing signs of mould or no longer open or close properly, you’ll want to think about replacing them.

Also, think about the rest of your kitchen: what sections are due to be replaced next? Before you replace the cabinetry, think about what other pieces will need to be swapped out in the next five or 10 years. Think long-term and make sure that your new cabinets will match any updated appliances or countertops in the future.

If you’re happy with your kitchen’s layout, you can get away with refacing the cabinets. But, what if you’re doing a bigger renovation? Knocking down walls or adding more space in the kitchen might mean having to move around your cabinets. In that case, you may find it more valuable to have the old cabinets ripped out and replaced with new ones.

Now, if you decide to replace your cabinets, but they’re still in decent shape, donate them to the Habitat ReStore. It may seem like we throw out all the kitchen cabinets when we do demos on our shows, but we do donate as many materials as possible. Like I said, cabinets should last a long time, so someone could still get a lot of life out of them.

Images Courtesy of The Holmes Group

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