What is the Difference Between Resurfacing and Refinishing Cabinets?

What is the Difference Between Resurfacing and Refinishing Cabinets?

Question: What is the Difference Between Resurfacing and Refinishing Cabinets?
Answer: Resurfacing involves applying a new surface layer, while refinishing entails stripping and reapplying finish to the existing surface.

What is the Difference Between Resurfacing and Refinishing Cabinets? A Guide to Revitalizing Your Kitchen

Kitchen cabinets endure daily wear and tear. If your cabinets appear tired or outdated, you might be considering a refresh. Resurfacing and refinishing offer two distinct paths to achieving a revitalized kitchen. However, it’s vital to understand the differences before embarking on a project. Let’s explore what makes these methods unique.

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Resurfacing Cabinets: A Transformative Approach

What It Is

Resurfacing, frequently referred to as refacing, introduces a dramatic change by replacing the external surfaces of your cabinets. This involves installing new doors and drawer fronts, often coupled with applying a thin veneer to the existing cabinet boxes. Essentially, resurfacing gives your cabinets a comprehensive facelift. [ 1 ]

Click here for more information on kitchen refinishing
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When It’s the Right Choice

Resurfacing is an attractive option if:

  • You like your kitchen’s layout.

    If the functional design of your kitchen suits you, resurfacing allows for a purely stylistic upgrade.

  • Your cabinet boxes are structurally sound.

    For resurfacing to succeed, the core ‘skeleton’ of your cabinets should be in good condition.

  • You desire a major style change.

    Resurfacing offers a vast selection of door styles, materials, and finishes.

Refinishing Cabinets: Revitalizing the Original

What It Is

Refinishing focuses on renewing the existing cabinet surfaces. This process usually involves sanding the doors and drawer fronts, followed by the application of a fresh stain or paint. Refinishing allows your cabinets to shine with a revitalized finish.

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When It’s the Right Choice

Refinishing might be the ideal solution if:

  • You cherish your cabinet style.

    If your cabinet doors feature a timeless or intricate design, refinishing preserves and enhances their beauty.

  • You have a tighter budget .

    In general, refinishing is a more budget-friendly approach compared to resurfacing.

  • You enjoy DIY projects.

    Refinishing suits homeowners with a flair for hands-on projects and some carpentry experience.

Related Article: Is Refacing Cabinets Easy?
Related Article: Is Painting Cabinets a Good Idea?

Weighing the Options

Cost Considerations

Typically, professional refinishing costs less than resurfacing. This is partly due to resurfacing involving the expense of new cabinet components and professional installation.

DIY vs. Professional

While some homeowners undertake refinishing as a DIY project, know that achieving a flawless, long-lasting finish often warrants hiring a professional. Resurfacing, due to its complexity, usually necessitates professional installation.

Durability and Longevity

Expertly resurfaced cabinets offer a substantial transformation with minimal concern about previous finishes impacting the outcome. A meticulously refinished cabinet can provide years of beauty and service. However, the success of refinishing is influenced by the initial condition of your existing cabinets.

Related Article: When Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets Do You Stain or Paint?
Related Article: Is it Cheaper to Have Cabinets Painted or Replaced?

Deciding on the Right Path

The optimal choice for your kitchen depends entirely on your individual needs and priorities. Consider the following:

  • Budget:

    Determine your financial parameters for the project.

  • Desired aesthetic change:

    Do you envision a complete transformation or an updated version of your current style?

  • Condition of your cabinets:

    Have a professional assess the structural integrity of your cabinet boxes.

  • DIY aptitude:

    Assess your comfort level with tackling a refinishing project.

Additional Considerations

  • Hardware Update:

    Both resurfacing and refinishing projects are perfect opportunities to replace outdated hardware, adding a final polish to your revitalized kitchen.

  • Improving Functionality:

    Consider adding organizational features or soft-close mechanisms during your project for enhanced functionality.

Seek Professional Guidance

If you seek professional help with resurfacing or refinishing, prioritize finding a reputable contractor specializing in kitchen renovations. Request references, compare quotes, and carefully examine examples of their past work.


By understanding these key distinctions, you’ll feel empowered to select the optimal approach to give your kitchen cabinets the makeover they deserve.


1. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/cabinet-refacing-cost/

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