Industry Update 2023

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet Refacing Vs. Cabinet Refinishing

Let’s Face It, Quality Cabinet Refacing has been servicing the Delaware Valley area for over 30 years. Cabinet Refacing is a process that allows homeowners a viable, cost effective, remodeling choice compared to conventional tear out and replacement remodeling. Let’s Face It is the sister company to HomeTech Renovations, Inc. which handles larger floor to ceiling design/build based projects. Let’s Face It was conceived to offer a HomeTech client a more cost effective alternative to individuals whose budgets would not allow for a full blown project.

Let’s Face it has completed thousands of projects throughout Bucks, Montgomery county’s as well as the Philadelphia metro area. Early on, Let’s Face It offered client’s cabinet refinishing as well as cabinet refacing services. Although we no longer offer refinishing, we still get calls from clients who ask about refinishing options. Due to the complexity of various options of how refacing and refinishing is done from company to company, I thought it be best to compare the two from the “Let’s Face It” perspective.


What is the Cabinet Refacing Process?

I will try to keep this simple; essentially our customers can choose from a large variety of unique hardwood, designer finishes, or any look that you may conceive from any new cabinet shop or manufacturer. The Let’s Face it process customizes all replacement doors, drawer heads, sides, components to achieve a modern “full overlay” look in your choice of hardwood and finish. When we begin your project, a company trained employee removes the existing doors and drawer fronts from the cabinetry already in place. The cabinets remain in place and our professional prepares all exposed cabinet surfaces to accept new prefinished, genuine hardwoods that will cover all exposed cabinet surfaces. Your new doors and drawer heads are then installed with new lifetime modern soft close hinge systems. New decorative crown molding and cabinet hardware is installed to put the customized finishing touches on your project. Many homeowners also elect for new cabinet interior options such as new working drawers, rollouts, trash recycling bins, as well as a host of anything else you may find on a brand new set of cabinetry. We even maintain a shop to build and add additional cabinetry if needed to enhance your design. The end result is a high quality kitchen that is usually completed in less than a week with limited mess and inconvenience. See our video about cabinet refacing.

What is the Cabinet Refinishing Process

As I previously stated, Let’s Face It used to offer cabinet refinishing. The process of cabinet refinishing involves keeping your existing cabinet doors and drawer fronts which means you have to really like the existing hardwood used to make the doors and really like the existing door design. All the doors and drawer head will need to be removed and then taken back to a shop to remove the existing finish. The finish needs to be 100% removed from all components to ensure that any new stains or paints will properly adhere to the wood surfaces. In order to do this, the doors and drawer heads will need to go through an EPA approved stripping agent or dip tank. This solution will loosen the original finish and is very caustic. When the parts are removed from the stripping agent, much of the door joinery becomes loosened and separated which will need to be re glued and repaired. All the remaining residual finish will then need to be hand scrapped in an effort to get the entire top coat and stain out of the grain of the wood. The stripping agent will now raise the grain of the wood and all doors and drawer fronts will need to be hand sanded with 120 grit followed up with 220 grit paper in succession. Once both sides of the doors and drawers are sanded with 220 grit paper, they need to be wiped down with a tact cloth to remove and residual dust that may lay on the surfaces. A wiping stain of choice is then applied in an EPA approved finishing booth. This stain needs to penetrate the wood and then we will generally discover any areas where the stain will not absorb into the wood as a result of some deep saturation of the original finish. The stain must dry for 24 hours and followed up with spaying a sanding sealer which is applied in the same EPA spray booth. The sanding sealer coat must be sanded again prior to spraying the application of two subsequent finish top coats. The typical time frame to refinish just the doors and drawers on an average kitchen usually takes about a week from start to finish. After the doors and drawers are refinished, they will be put aside for the next phase to be done to the cabinetry in the home.

The existing cabinet boxes without doors and drawers will now be ready for refinishing. Since we cannot control the environment and ventilation as we can in an approved spray booth, a plastic tent is erected to quarantine the area to act as a substitute. The process of removing the old finish from the face frames now begins. The same stripping agent we use in a shop environment cannot or should not be used due to environmental hazards. As a result, the preferred method is to sand off the finish on the face frames with an electric sander. The professional must use an approved respirator and then use a HEPA vacuum to remove the dust afterwards which may be toxic due to the original finish that applied. The cabinet sides are a bit more challenging to remove the finish as most of them are made of multiplywood with a thin wood layer that can easily be sanded through destroying the wood sides. In some cases, the sides of cabinetry are made of MCP or wood looking vinyl which cannot be refinished at all. If this is the case a new wood door panel is custom made to cover these areas as we try to match the existing door specifications. This sanding phase generally takes about three to four days to complete.

Once the finish is completely removed from the cabinets in place, we go through the same surface preparation and apply the stain, sanding sealer, and top coats. This final step typically takes about four days to accomplish.

The newly refinished doors are now ready to install. In many cases the same or old hinges will need to be used as a result of retrofit issues associated to more modern soft close hinges. Additionally the old decorative hardware will leave holes in the doors and drawer heads which will limit the decorative hardware choices, etc. The installation of the doors and drawers usually takes about 2 days to complete.

In short the refinishing process will generally take about 11 to 12 days if this is done in a vigorous step by step process with no emergencies or other related issues that may arise during the way. Certainly a quick coat of paint can be applied; however your kitchen will look exactly like that, a quick coat of paint that offers no real enduring value to the home. I frequently comment that “you would not go out to your driveway and simply paint your car if the finish was old or outdated,” why will you do that to the most important room of your home?

The bottom line is that the cost of the labor, EPA regulation disposal costs, and in- home dust and inconvenience does not make professional refinishing a cost effective viable option for most homeowners. It is far less expensive, faster, cleaner to reface a kitchen with factory new parts than reworking existing, outdates old ones; hence the reason we no longer offer cabinet refinishing at Let’s Face It.

Call or contact us to learn more about how we can revitalize your home.