Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Painting Cabinets: Pros, Cons, Cost, Difference

Cabinet Refacing vs Painting // Tantrums and Tools

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Painting Cabinets

Have your kitchen cabinets seen better days? Don’t have the money for a big kitchen renovation or cabinet replacement? Kichen cabinet refacing vs painting cabinets may be a good option for you.

Are you wondering what is your best option to make your old kitchen cabinets look better without investing in new cabinets? Up to this point, you’ve probably started searching for cost-effective ways to update those outdated, dark cabinets, and now your head is spinning.

The odds are good that you read about painting cabinets or refacing cabinets, but you find yourself going back to searching because you’re still not sure what exactly is best for your kitchen. Well, search no more because, after this post, you will know exactly which technique is the best way to fix your kitchen cabinets.

In this post about cabinet refacing vs painting, I’m giving you all the details about these two cost-effective ways – everything from the pros, cons, and differences between these two techniques. All so you can walk away feeling confident in which method is the best choice for your kitchen cabinet refinishing project.

Let’s get to the good stuff!

Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.

What is Cabinet Refacing vs Cabinet Painting?

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Cabinet refacing and painting are cost-effective ways to update your kitchen on a budget without replacing your cabinets entirely. Both options are a cheaper way to achieve a new-looking kitchen; however, there are differences between the two techniques regarding the amount of time, money, durability, and the ability for you to DIY this.

Before we get into all these important details, I want to start by defining each term to ensure you, and I know exactly what we’re talking about doing to the cabinets.

Cabinet refacing replaces the cabinet door or drawer top layer to change the appearance. Cabinet refacing uses a wood veneer or some other solid sheet to replace what was once there. The existing cabinet base remains, and the hardware may or may not be replaced. 

Cabinet painting involves covering the cabinet door or drawer top layer with paint. The existing cabinet base remains, and the hardware may or may not be replaced.

The Big Question: What’s The difference Between Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Painting Cabinets

Let’s first talk about the similarities between the two to confirm that either cost-effective approach is a good idea for you. 

  • Are your current kitchen cabinets in good structural shape? Since you’ll only be giving new life to the cabinet faces, your existing cabinet boxes should be in decent shape because these are going to stay.
  • Are you ok with the layout of your kitchen? Neither cabinet refacing nor painting can change this, so you’ll need to be ok-ish with your kitchen layout for these to be a good option for you.
  • Are you hoping for an entirely new look within your kitchen? Surprisingly, updating the existing finish on your cabinets has the power to make a big difference, giving new life and completely transforming not only the look of your cabinets but also the entire kitchen. 

If you answered no to any of these questions, then cabinet refacing or painting is probably not the best option for you. A better choice may be replacing your cabinets.

When Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Vs. Painting Cabinets is Right for You

If you answered yes to these questions, keep reading because you’re in the right place! Now let’s talk about the differences to figure out if you should reface or paint your kitchen cabinets.

Wood Grain

Both options can cover an existing finish such as wood grain; however, this is not a simple process if you’re painting your cabinets, making cabinet refacing the better choice.


Painting your cabinets yourself is the most cost-effective option for transforming your kitchen cabinets. There is a fairly big difference between the cost of painting them yourself and hiring a professional painter, so I highly recommend you check out my five simple steps to painting kitchen cabinets.

I’ve mastered the techniques of painting kitchen cabinets and have broken this down into simple, easy-to-follow steps, so regardless of your diy skill level, you too can handle this project!


If you’re really tight on time, like, you have literally no time to invest in this project beyond researching your options, then cabinet refacing is the better option for you.

Cabinet refacing is a pretty advanced project, so you’re likely not going to be the one doing the work. If you plan to do the work yourself, then cabinet painting is your best option.

Pros and Cons of Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing vs painting - Pros and Cons of Cabinet Refacing

The pros to cabinet refacing:

  1. Faster since you’re not doing the work
  2. A new veneer is applied and gives your cabinets the appearance of being new doors and drawer fronts
  3. Easily covers wood grain
  4. Can easily change cabinet hardware
  5. Easy to achieve a smooth finish
  6. Your cabinet doors and drawer fronts can have some water damage. As long as the bases are in good shape.

The cons to cabinet refacing:

  1. This will not change your kitchen’s layout
  2. There is a cheaper option
  3. You need to hire a professional for the best results 
  4. This will not give you new cabinet doors

Pros and Cons of Cabinet Painting

Cabinet refacing vs Painting - Pros and Cons of Painting Cabinets

The pros of cabinet painting:

  1. Cheapest option
  2. DIY project
  3. Endless possibilities for paint colors
  4. Can easily change cabinet hardware
  5. In some cases, you can change your door style

The cons of cabinet painting:

  1. Your cabinets need to be in good condition
  2. This will not change your kitchen layout
  3. New cabinet hardware must be the same size as the old cabinet hardware. Changing the size of the cabinet hardware requires some additional work.
  4. Doing this yourself takes time to complete (but probably not as long as you’re imagining!)

Cost of Cabinet Refacing vs Painting Cabinets

Many factors are involved in determining the final cost of cabinet refacing vs painting. The cheapest approach will be painting your kitchen cabinets, followed by hiring a professional cabinet painter, and lastly refacing your cabinets being the most expensive.

The cost of refacing will always be the most expensive option, but overall, the average price for any of these options will be less than completely replacing your kitchen cabinets. 

Painting Cabinets Costs

I painted my kitchen cabinets for a fraction of the cost it would have been to hire a professional or replace the cabinets. We’re talking like only a few hundred dollars, and the transformation was incredible. See for yourself in the image above.

The costs involved in DIY painting kitchen cabinets are for tools such as sanding paper and a sander, primer, paint, and paint roller and brush.

Here are some rough numbers to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay when hiring a professional. The average cost is:

  • $100 per cabinet door
  • $25 per cabinet drawer
  • $150 per cabinet base

The size of your kitchen will obviously impact the cost, and more cabinets directly affect the total cost it takes to complete the update.

The condition of your cabinets affects how much it will cost to reface or paint them.

Lastly, as with everything else, your location affects the price you’ll pay someone to reface or paint your kitchen cabinets.

You were wondering about cabinet refacing vs painting, and I delivered everything you needed to know about the two! Don’t let your old cabinets stop you from having the new kitchen of your dreams. Cabinet refacing or painting are two budget-friendly ways to refresh your existing cabinet doors and drawers. I truly hope this info has made your decision process a bit easier. 

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