Ask The Painter: What can you do with my kitchen cabinets?

July 06, 2010

Repaint, Convert-to-Paint, Re-Face, or Replace

A kitchen remodeling project is, perhaps, one of the most high impact projects for updating a home. Stained & varnished cabinets that are a dated color or finish are prime candidates for upgrading. The options for upgrading cabinets in increasing order of cost are Repainting, Stain-to-Paint Conversion, Re-Facing, and Replacing. 

Repainting existing cabinets that have already been painted is the most straight-forward thing to do. Repainting may be as simple as painting one top-coat to “freshen-up” the existing cabinets, or as many as 3 coats may be needed if the color is being changed drastically.
Cabinets_before_for_webThese before and after shots are of a Stain-to-Paint conversion that Southern Painting made for one of our customers. This option is one of the most cost effective ways to change the look of a Kitchen. Stain-to-Paint conversions start around $55 per door and give a wide range of possibilities in terms of color and finish. The final look, however is that of paint (the underlying wood texture is still visible) and cannot be un-done.

Cabinets_after_for_webIn the case of the kitchen shown here, the customer changed the cabinet color from golden oak stain to a color called “Black Bean” in order to better coordinate with the brick work in the kitchen. The addition of brushed nickel cabinet and door pulls resulted in a very striking appearance. Painting a darker color like this involves an additional color coat and is therefore priced somewhat higher, but still significantly less than the next option, re-facing.

Re-Facing involves replacing cabinet doors, drawer face panels, and trim, and gluing a veneer over the existing cabinet boxes. This is a good way to change the look of the existing cabinet configuration. From a cost perspective, re-facing typically starts at $80 per cabinet door (for utility cabinets) and goes up from there, with “decent” looking doors going from upwards of $110 per door. Note that a “door” measure is just a quick way of roughing out approximate cost. Other factors such as cabinet sides, trim, etc. will add into the total as well. While we have re-finished cabinets in the past in order to change the stain color, the labor involved with completely stripping and sanding them to prep for the new color generally make re-facing worth consideration.

A cabinet replacement is just what it sounds like — your kitchen is “gutted” and all cabinets are replaced with new ones. This is the most expensive option, but it may be required if the old cabinets are very damaged or are simply the wrong configuration for your current needs. New cabinets may come pre-finished or may need to be stained & varnished or painted.

If you are planning a kitchen remodeling project, and will need some work done on cabinets, please contact us today.

Copyright 2009 Jeff Stec

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