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Kitchen Cabinet Replacement

New Cabinets Can't be Matched, but Refurbishment is a Worthwhile Alternative

Owing to the sheer volume of cabinetry found in a typical kitchen, cabinets are one of the most noticeable features of one of busiest rooms in the house. If your kitchen cabinets are out of style or severely worn, they could be making an unflattering impression on visitors. Replace your outdated cabinets with stylish new units to make your kitchen, and indeed your entire home, more inviting and stylish.

Kitchen Cabinet Considerations

There are several major options to choose from when upgrading your kitchen cabinets. The most dramatic change will result from a complete replacement, which entails stripping out the existing cabinet infrastructure and installing new cabinets. Cabinet replacement, however, can be quite expensive, and if you're concerned with new cabinets on a budget, consider cabinet resurfacing or refinishing. Both of these options provide cabinets that look like new, and both are considerably easier on your wallet.

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Kitchen cabinet refacing involves buying new doors, drawer fronts, and hardware and covering the existing cabinet boxes with a finish that matches the new drawers and doors. In other words, all of the cabinet components, save for the box, are replaced.

Kitchen Cabinet Resurfacing

If you have cabinets made from a quality wood such as oak, cherry, or mahogany, it might make sense to bring them up to date with a fresh coat of stain or paint. During the refinishing process doors, drawers, and the visible parts of the cabinet box are sanded and then stain and a topcoat are reapplied. If staining previously painted cabinets, stripping will be necessary.

Cabinet Layout

One major question you should ask yourself when shopping for new kitchen cabinets is: "Do I keep my current cabinet layout and get exact size replacements, or do I want a new layout?"

This question has a big impact on cost. Exact size replacements can save you considerable money, not least because your existing countertops can be salvaged (when a new cabinet layout is implemented, it's almost always necessary to install new countertops that can accommodate them). Changing the size and layout of your current cabinets also usually leads to drywall repair and painting.

Options for Replacing Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinet replacement gives you the greatest amount of flexibility. To avoid getting overwhelmed by all the options, keep the following pointers in mind:
  • Your local home improvement box store should have plenty of economy cabinets in stock. These units, often made from veneered plywood, are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. There is typically no need to order these cabinets, so your project can begin immediately.
  • For homeowners who don't want to settle for what's on the shelf, plenty of cabinet manufacturers offer hardwood cabinets made from such species as oak, ash, maple, and mahogany. For budget-friendly customization there are hardwood veneered plywood boxes that have 100% hardwood drawers and doors. These cabinets may need to be ordered ahead of construction.
  • Custom kitchen cabinets are made by wood shops nationwide. Master craftsmen can produce cabinets of any shape and size. If you aren't overly concerned with budget, custom cabinets are sure to turn heads and last for decades.

Kitchen Cabinet Replacement Costs

  • Replacing an entire 8-piece kitchen cabinet set with a same-sized economy option can cost as little as $5,000-$7,000.
  • Upgrading the same 8-piece set with better-quality cabinets might cost $12,000 to $15,000.
  • Custom kitchen cabinet prices vary widely based on the type and size of cabinets ordered. A 36" plywood base with doors and drawers can cost as much as $600 per linear foot installed (which works out to $1,500 for a 3' wide by 3' tall by 30" deep unit). A custom 24" tall upper cabinet with doors can cost $300-$600 per linear foot installed, depending on the width.
  • Expect a custom made solid hardwood cabinet to cost at least twice as much as a non-hardwood custom cabinet. The price difference is attributable to more expensive materials and the fact that hardwoods are more difficult to mill.
  • Incorporating a new cabinet layout can add $1,000-$2,000 to a standard cabinet installation.
  • The prices above are based on cabinet replacement only. The cost to remove and reinstall countertops, or to replace them entirely, is extra (learn more about kitchen countertops).

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