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Refacing Your Cabinets

An alternative to new cabinets is refacing the old ones. The basic refacing project consists of installing new cabinet door and drawer fronts and covering the exposed face frames with a matching wood or plastic veneer. Most jobs take two to four days, and depend on kitchen size and extras like replacing counters or adding an extra cabinet.

Three finish options generally are available: plastic laminates, rigid thermofoils (RTF) and wood veneer.

Refacing laminates are available in a variety of solid colors and wood-grain looks. Slightly more expensive than RTF, laminates lack malleability, which means they're limited to plain cabinet door styles.

RTF is a very malleable vinyl foil pressure-molded over medium- density-fiberboard doors. It can be shaped and molded in a range of styles, including arched and cathedral doors, raised panel and eyebrow raised panels. RTF comes in fewer solid colors than laminates, but its wood grain looks realistic.

Nevertheless, wood veneers remain a popular option in Washington. Refacing a kitchen with wood will cost 10 percent to 25 percent more than RTF and laminates. It can be done in oak, maple, cherry, birch, walnut or almost any other wood a customer wants.

Conditions that rule out refacing include cabinets that are beginning to fall apart or aren't well built to begin with; metal cabinets that are rusting; and larger structural issues such as floors that have settled and left cabinets out of kilter. If you have any of these problems, you shouldn't reface your cabinets.
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