Kitchen Cabinet Refacing

Kitchen cabinet refacing is a home improvement project that adds to the beauty of your kitchen, and increases the resale value of your home. Even better, it’s a project that is simple to do and requires no special tools or equipment; most homeowners can reface kitchen cabinets in a day, or over a weekend. Kitchen cabinet refacing is a great DIY project that saves money and improves your home. This project can be part of a larger kitchen remodel or can be just a quick kitchen tune-up.

Before starting this project makes sure you know what your cabinets are made of. Are your cabinets made from real wood, veneer (pressure sensitive veneer or wood veneer) or laminate (low-pressure laminate or high-pressure laminate).

What You Need to Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets

Here’s everything that you will need to reface your kitchen cabinets:

Reface Your Kitchen Cabinets


  • New paint or wood finish
  • Paint primer
  • Molding or trim, if adding
  • New hardware, if replacing
  • Spray primer and spray paint formulated for metal, if repainting hardware


  • Screwdriver
  • Paint or wood stripper
  • Sandpaper (or sander if painting a lot of laminated surfaces)
  • Drill, if the new hardware doesn’t have the same placement as the existing screw holes
  • Painter’s tape
  • Putty or filler
  • Wood adhesive
  • Paint brushes or rollers
  • Drop cloth
  • Gloves
  • Toothbrush
  • Level
Tools for cabinet refacing

Here’s how to reface your kitchen cabinets:

Cabinet doors:

  • If the doors are made of solid wood and you are refinishing, use a stripper to remove the current finish.
  • If the doors are painted, use a stripper to remove old paint.
  • If the doors are laminated, use a sander to buff the entire surface.
refacing kitchen cabinet doors

Drawer fronts:

  • Remove the drawers and empty them.
  • Remove the handles and hardware. As with cabinets, it’s a good idea to keep the hardware and screws with that specific drawer. Placing them in a plastic bag and taping them inside the drawer is a good way to do this.
  • Clean the surface of the drawer front.
  • Prepare the drawer surface by removing old paint or wood finish as noted above, or by sanding a laminate to accept new paint.
  • Repair any damage to the surface.
  • Prime the drawer surface.
  • Consider adding decorative molding or trim to match the look of the cabinet doors. Prepare and attach molding as above.
  • Paint the drawer fronts, or apply new wood stain or finish.

Face frames and end panels:

  • While the doors are off and the drawers are out, empty all the cabinets.
  • Tape off trim, molding, surrounding walls, and shelf fronts. Use a drop cloth to protect floors and countertops.
  • Clean and repaint the face frames and end panels, preparing the surface as appropriate.

Door handles, hinges, and pulls:

You may choose to replace outdated door handles, drawer pulls and hinges before re-hanging everything. This is made easier if you find new hardware that fits the same holes as the existing hardware, particularly for door hinges. New handles and hinges are options that can give your kitchen renovation project a quick style boost.

Hinges and Handles

“Old hinge” flickr photo by _Pixelmaniac_ shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Note: check online before disposing of old hardware. Many people are interested in old door and drawer hardware and hinges, and you may find a market for them.

To re-use your existing hardware:

  • Soak in a bucket of warm water mixed with a mild dish detergent for 5-10 minutes.
  • Use a toothbrush to gently scrub them clean.
  • Use a paint remover if they have been sloppily painted on in the past.
  • You may want to repaint old hardware to give it a new look. Use a spray primer and spray paint formulated for metal or outdoor furniture. If you are repainting:
    • Lightly buff the surface with steel wool to remove any last bits of dirt and prepare the surface for new paint.
    • Wipe clean and dry with a soft cloth, removing any dust or debris.
    • In a well-ventilated area, spray an even coat of metal primer on the hardware, being careful of drips or runs.
    • Spray new paint or finish on the pulls, using smooth, even strokes, avoiding drips and runs.
    • Wait for at least an hour, then apply a second coat of paint.

Once everything is dry, you are ready to reassemble your kitchen cabinets. Put the drawer pulls and door knobs back on first, then replace drawers and re-hang doors. When re-hanging doors, screw the hinges in loosely, then tighten alternate hinges gradually as you check the level along the way.

how to reface kitchen cabinets

Step back and admire your handiwork – this is a big job and has transformed the look of your kitchen. This simple remodeling project is low cost and can turn a drab old kitchen into your dream kitchen. Post pictures to Instagram and Pinterest and watch the “likes” pour in.