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Refurbishing vs. Refinishing vs. Replacement:

Which makes the most sense for your kitchen cabinets?

Tired of the way your kitchen cabinets look?  Before you commit to the time, money – and hassle – of refinishing or replacing your current cabinets, consider refurbishing them instead.  The results will pleasantly surprise you.

Between cooking, dining, snacking and just hanging out, a kitchen probably sees more activity than any other room in a typical home.  Unfortunately, all of that activity takes a toll on a kitchen’s appearance – especially on the cabinets, which become dingy with use and age.  So it’s not surprising that every year, millions of homeowners look around their kitchen and say the same thing: “We have to do something about these cabinets.” 

But “doing something” can be a very expensive and complicated process.  Refinishing, refacing or replacing cabinets takes a lot of money.  It also can put a kitchen out of commission for weeks, making meal preparation almost impossible and inconveniencing everyone in the household.  However, there is an alternative to cabinet refinishing and replacement that costs far less in terms of time, money and hassle: cabinet refurbishing.

What is refurbishing?

“Refurbishing” is a term furniture care professionals use to describe a range of processes that are used to thoroughly clean, repair and protect furniture. Refurbishing does not remove or replace the current finish on kitchen cabinets.  Rather, it minimizes the harmful effects that years of cooking, wear and tear have on cabinets.

 A typical kitchen cabinet refurbishing begins by using specialized cleaners, which can remove decades of built-up grease and grime without harming the cabinet's finish.  Then, repairs are made to the cabinets.  Specialized techniques are used to fix worn areas, scratches, chips, stains, dents, burns and structural problems like loose veneers.  Finally, coatings are applied that not only protect the refurbished cabinets, but also make them easier to clean in the future.

 As a result, refurbishing brings out the best qualities in the cabinets. One furniture care professional estimates that a skilled refurbisher can restore 85% to 95% of the cabinets’ original appearance.  “Refurbishing won’t make cabinets look like they’re brand new, but it will give them a well-cared for look for a long time to come,” says another professional refurbisher. Time and again, homeowners tell us after a refurbishing that they had no idea their current cabinets could look so good.  Others say their only regret is that they wish they’d had the refurbishment done years earlier.

Why does it make so much sense?

Simply put, cabinet refurbishing is possibly the fastest, cheapest and most convenient way to upgrade a kitchen’s appearance.  A refurbishing costs about one-fourth of the cost of a refinishing job, and possibly one-tenth the cost of new cabinets (not counting any cost for additional work required to walls, floors or ceilings).  Most refurbishings can be done in a single day, and homeowners don’t even have to clean out their cabinets!  That means most families can have breakfast, and then cook dinner the same day in their newly refurbished kitchen. 

A job for professionals.

Although cabinet refurbishing is fast and affordable, it requires extensive experience, training, and highly specialized materials and processes. Cleaning, repairing and protecting different surfaces, laminates and finishes calls for very different techniques.  So if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you can do more harm than good.  One furniture care professional relates how a homeowner resorted to a harsh abrasive cleaner to remove stubborn layers of greasy dirt – only to destroy the finish on the cabinets. Another couple spent several weekends refinishing their cabinets.  But they hadn’t completely removed built up wax and grime, so the new finish began lifting and peeling within days.

Therefore, refurbishing is not a job a homeowner can do properly with products from a supermarket or hardware store.  It makes a lot more sense to invest a little more for a professional refurbishing by a trained furniture care expert.

The right choice in so many situations.

There are many reasons why homeowners choose to refurbish their kitchen cabinets.  Some love their current cabinets and want them to look their best.  Others have major kitchen renovations planned for the future, but want a better-looking kitchen until then. (In fact, some refurbishings have been so successful, they’ve made homeowners change their mind about replacing or refinishing their cabinets.)  Those buying existing homes find a quick, affordable refurbishing can make their kitchens look decades younger.  And finally, many people refurbish their cabinets to spruce up their kitchen when putting their home on the market – knowing that an attractive kitchen makes a home much easier to sell.

So if you’re not happy with your kitchen, explore all your alternatives – but start with a call to a furniture care professional about a refurbishing.  Chances are, it’ll be just what your kitchen cabinets need. 

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