Custom Cabinet Doors for IKEA Kitchen Cabinets

Custom Cabinet Doors for IKEA Kitchen Cabinets

IKEA is a household name for home décor and furnishings, but also for their kitchen cabinet system. Beyond just furniture, IKEA is known for durable products, long warranties, and affordable prices, which make IKEA kitchens a popular choice for homeowners on a budget. When designing your IKEA kitchen if you’re looking to make it look more custom while maintaining a reasonable budget, Nieu Cabinet Doors provides color and style options beyond the standard IKEA offerings, to elevate your space and get the custom kitchen of your dreams. 

Why are IKEA kitchen cabinets so popular?

IKEA is known for their durable products, excellent warranties, and low prices. In the cabinetry space, they’re known for being one of the few companies that allows you to order your kitchen completely modularly. What does that mean? You can order IKEA cabinet boxes only, and source custom doors, drawers, panels, and accessories to enhance your look.  

A photo of a white shaker kitchen with a brick backsplash, large window, and stainless steel appliances.
White shaker cabinet doors brighten your space and are great for resale.

Expand the Design Possibilities of IKEA Kitchen Cabinets

Although IKEA has a variety of cabinet door styles and colors to choose from, they offer one or two colors in each style. You might find you love a certain color, or have your heart set on a style, but that color + style don’t match up to make your dream kitchen. By going with custom doors for IKEA cabinets, you can widen the range of options to find kitchen cabinet doors you adore. 

Cabinet Doors for IKEA Sektion and Akurum Systems

In 2015, IKEA discontinued their line of kitchen cabinets called “Akurum” and replaced them with “Sektion” kitchen cabinets. While IKEA continues to sell a variety of doors for Sektion systems, customers with an older IKEA kitchen are often worried they have to completely replace their kitchen just to update the doors. No need to worry! 

If you are refacing an IKEA kitchen, we can work together to get new doors in the style and color of your choice. For refacing an IKEA Akurum kitchen, we will need you to measure your doors, drawer faces, filler and panels using this video to help. For either kitchen system, if you have your IKEA plans, don’t be shy to share them with us. 

Custom Doors for IKEA Kitchens

Nieu Cabinet Doors offers made to measure, custom cabinet doors for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and more. For a DIY homeowner, our products can service refacing projects, or entirely new kitchens. If you have some good assembly skills and just need doors to upgrade your IKEA cabinets, we’re proud to offer custom doors for you to achieve your dream space. Simply send us your IKEA kitchen plans, and we can make your custom doors.  

When ordering your IKEA kitchen, you’ll need to order it without facings – which means doors, drawer fronts, panels, toekick, filler and trim. If you’d like to order our dovetail drawer boxes instead of the IKEA drawer selection, leave those off your IKEA order and get in touch.  

Grey Shaker Cabinet Doors

Custom cabinet doors for IKEA vanities, media systems, and wardrobes

The beauty of custom made products is that you can repeat a cabinet door style throughout your home to create a seamless, cohesive look. With entirely made to measure cabinet doors, we are able to make high quality, custom doors for IKEA Godmorgon (bathroom vanities), IKEA Besta (media systems), and even IKEA PAX (wardrobes).  

Have fun with your kitchen renovation plans by mixing styles and colors throughout your home, or use one door style in various colors to tailor the look to the specific taste of each room. If you’re curious if you can tackle a project, why not start small with a washroom or laundry room before tackling your new IKEA kitchen?  

Get the look of IKEA kitchen cabinet doors

Here’s a quick comparison of which common IKEA door styles are most similar to Nieu doors. All Nieu door styles are available in 10 standard colors, or we’re happy to do a custom paint job for a small additional fee, just let us know.  

  • Grimslov door, available in off-white only = Nieu Shaker cabinet door 
  • Bodbyn door, available in three colors = Nieu Raised cabinet door 
  • Akstad door, available in one color = Nieu Stepped Shaker or Framed cabinet door 

How to use the IKEA kitchen planner to order your new kitchen

Using the IKEA kitchen planner tool, design your kitchen using the doors provided within the planning tool. You’ll need to start with dimensions of your room, doors and windows, and any other objects. The tool does a great job of walking you through the steps to start building your design.  

1.      Start by inputting the dimensions of your appliances, either new or existing 

2.      Insert your sink cabinet, and any corner cabinets you may need. 

3.      Work within the remaining area to insert all of your base cabinets around your appliances, sink, and corner cabinets. 

4.      Move onto upper cabinets following the same process as above.  

5.      When you’re happy with your design, make sure to carefully double check your measurements and save your plans. 

6.      Send us a copy of your IKEA planner PDF, called “Itemlist” in the tool. 

7.      When ordering your IKEA cabinets: make sure to remove all of the following: doors, drawer fronts, toekick, end panels, filler and trim. You can also ask at your local IKEA store if you are placing your order in person. 

8.      Please note if you are ordering our custom dovetail drawer boxes, you’ll need to remove the drawers from your IKEA order. 

A white shaker style kitchen with decorative items in red on the counter.

IKEA Kitchens Made Custom

To summarize, if you’re looking for durability, IKEA kitchen cabinet boxes are a great choice. For the custom kitchen of your dreams, enhancing the style and color options available to you with custom doors means that a kitchen from the magazines doesn’t have to be out of budget!  

IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter-IKEA Systems B.V. and is not affiliated with Nieu Cabinet Doors.

Update Your Kitchen with Custom Dovetail Drawers

Update Your Kitchen with Custom Dovetail Drawers

Taking on a kitchen cabinet refacing project is a cost-effective way to upgrade the aesthetic of your kitchen. It is also an ideal time to upgrade the utility of your kitchen by replacing broken or worn out drawer boxes with new, high quality, dovetail drawers with soft close undermount slides.  

Drawer boxes endure a lot of abuse in a kitchen, repetitive slamming causes items to shift, eventually weaking the joints of the drawer. Dovetail drawer boxes are the most durable method of constructing drawer boxes and when paired with soft close undermount slides are a simple way yet highly functional upgrade to your kitchen.  

A side view of four kitchen cabinet drawers, the top three are small and the bottom is taller. The side of the wooden dovetail drawer box is showing againts the Stepped Shaker drawer fronts in Winter White.

What are dovetail drawer boxes?

Dovetail drawer boxes employ a pin and tail method of joinery to lock together the four sides of the drawer creating a very strong connection between the walls of the box. The pins are cut into the ends of one side of the box while the tails are cut into the joining piece. Adding a small amount of glue and locking the two pieces together creates a drawer box that doesn’t require screws to hold it together. Lesser drawer boxes use butt joints and either staples or screws to connect the four sides which can and will inevitably fail.  

Dovetail drawer boxes also add a sense of style and artisanship to your kitchen as the jig-saw puzzle look of the joinery is visible from the sides and harkens back to the days when such joints would have been made by hand with basic tools and not the modern machines of today.  

Dovetail joints have been used in all manner of construction including log houses in colonial days, stone works in India and even Egyptian furniture dating back to 3100 BC. With that sort of longevity there’s little doubt that a drawer box constructed with dovetail joinery can withstand the rigors of the 21st century kitchen.  

A side image of a kitchen cabinet dovetail drawer showing the dovetail joinery in the wooden drawer box.
A side view of a Nieu custom drawer showcasing the dovetail joinery of the wooden drawer box.

Are dovetail drawer boxes worth the investment?

A dovetail drawer box constructed from a birch or maple plywood coupled with a soft close undermount slide will outlive lesser drawer boxes joined with staples or screws. The single most requested upgrade when working with customers on their kitchen cabinet refacing project is upgrading builders grade melamine drawer boxes that have become wobbly or loose due to regular use.

While dovetail drawer boxes are more expensive than melamine drawers, their longevity and utility make them a worthwhile investment for any kitchen upgrade and the simple beauty of the artisan joinery acknowledges the timeless nature of good engineering.  

Where can I add dovetail drawer boxes to my kitchen?

Dovetail drawer boxes can replace any drawers currently in your cabinets. It is a straightforward process of measuring your current cabinet opening, height and depth and ordering custom drawer boxes to fit. An easy upgrade to your kitchen is to convert a standard base cabinet with doors and shelves into a pot and pan drawer stack.  

A pot and pan drawer stack typically consist of two deeper drawers on the bottom, usually 11’’ to 12” in height on the face, and a shallower 4” to 6″ drawer at the top. The two deep drawers are great for reorganizing pots and pans and make finding a matching lid and pot much easier than digging through standard base cabinets with shelves. The small drawer on the top usually serves as home for cutlery or as a utensil drawer for items such as spatulas and measuring cups.  

An image of four open drawers in kitchen cabinets with dovetail drawer boxes and white stepped shaker drawer fronts with squared black drawer pulls.
Dovetail drawer boxes paired with the Stepped Shaker drawer front in Winter White.

Do dovetail drawers improve resale value?

If you are refacing your kitchen cabinets to boost the resale value of your home consider replacing your drawer boxes as well. When prospective buyers are touring your home, they will open and close both a cabinet door and drawer to check for soft close upgrades. Upgraded cabinets doors like our selection of shaker cabinet doors and dovetail drawer boxes will impress buyers and let them know that you were mindful of both quality and utility when you upgraded your kitchen.  

The Summary:

Adding dovetail drawers to your refacing project provides an additional level of upgrade to your kitchen. If you’re getting started on your refacing project, use our free Design Quiz to find your style, watch our How To Measure video, and at any time Talk to an Expert if you need help. A custom looking kitchen is just a few clicks away!

Shaker Cabinet Doors: A History of Design

Shaker Cabinet Doors: A History of Design

The History of Shaker Kitchen Cabinet Doors

Shaker kitchen cabinet doors still dominate kitchen design 246 years after a subset of the English Quakers emigrated to America seeking freedom of religious expression and worship. Known as the Shaking Quakers for their ecstatic and physical style of worship, the Shakers were a modest people whose core values included humility, simplicity, celibacy, hard work and equality between the sexes. Their values are reflected in the simple, utilitarian design language of their furniture and cabinetry. The basic door construction reflected their practical approach to life and the lack of ornamentation affirms their humble character as they chose instead to focus on the quality of both construction and materials used.  

The Shaker community peaked at around 6000 members in the mid 1800’s along the East Coast of the US and was organized into commune style settlements where the collective worked to ensure the self-sufficiency of the greater group. Along with growing their own food and making tools, furniture was needed. Their religious views and practical nature entered into their work resulting in several simple yet enduring designs that have stood the test of time.  

Do you ever wonder why shaker-style tables and chairs often have tapered, light weight legs?

The Shakers, as their name may indicate, liked to dance, so their furniture was built to be light weight and easily moved aside for spiritual movements and dance. Eventually, these communities made enough furniture for their own needs and having embraced early generations of power tools and the simple construction of their furniture found they could produce enough to serve larger markets. This led to the spread of Shaker products from the tight-knit Shaker communes to the surrounding towns and villages, and beyond.  

What is a shaker style cabinet door?

Shaker cabinet doors are known and loved by homeowners and designers worldwide. A shaker door is comprised of four rails and a flat center panel, which distinguishes it from a raised panel door. High quality replacement cabinet doors in a shaker style can have one of the best impacts in your home to modernize your space and remodel your kitchen.  

An image labelling the parts of a shaker kitchen cabinet door as rail along the horizontal of the door edge, stile as the vertical door edge, and recessed center panel in the middle of the door.
Anatomy of a Shaker Door

Shaker Cabinet Door Design

Originally, Shaker cabinet doors were made from materials found easily in America in the 1800’s such as Cherry, Oak, Birch, Pine and Maple. Shaker furniture was typically stained or painted in colours determined by the sect that made them, common colors include red, green, blue, and yellow. Symmetry of design was important and inlays or decorative mouldings were not used as such devices of design were seen as deceitful or unholy. For the Shakers, a door was beautiful due to its function in the home and because it was well made and served a purpose.  

Mouldings and decorative embellishments served no purpose in a Shaker home and today designers still work in this style when designing a Shaker kitchen for your home. Many different styles of Shaker doors are available to the homeowner looking to bring some of this simple beauty into their home. Although cabinet door rail styles and widths may vary, and profiles add a bit more flair, but the basic foundation of a flat panel surrounded by four rails remains. 

Today, modern shaker doors are made with new materials such as exotic woods, aluminum and glass, and American staples such as maple and oak. Engineered woods wrapped in vinyl and polyester allow for unique treatments and can add texture to a door.  

Nieu Cabinet Doors – 8 Shaker Door Styles

At Nieu Cabinet Doors we have perfected the art of using high quality engineered MDF along with a 2-piece construction process to build custom cabinet doors. Our manufacturing techniques allow for the highest level of detailed finishing to produce the cleanest, most precise lines and profiles that would impress even a master Shaker cabinet maker.  

With a variety of rail widths and styles Shaker doors remain our best-selling door style. Offering 8 versions of Shaker doors, Nieu Cabinet Doors has a Shaker style that is sure to work in your home. A Shaker cabinet door is ideal for a DIY kitchen refacing project as this style of door lends itself to a kitchen without fancy trim or ornate mouldings. It really can be as simple as removing your old cabinet doors and replacing them with new doors and hardware.  

8 shaker style kitchen cabinet door styles in colors of white, beige, cream, grey, blue and green.
Our Shaker Cabinet Door Selection in 8 of Our Designer Curated Colors

Shaker Cabinet Doors in 2020

Today, shaker cabinet are not bound by any single interpretation of the original Shaker design. Shaker doors are available in a wide variety of styles and finishes and yes, some of them even have some degree of flair or ornamentation added to the rail profiles. A shaker door can work in any home and across design styles of traditional, contemporary, and transitional palettes.  

Although white is still the most popular color for a shaker door, bolder colors such as dark blues, teals and a variety of greys are finding their way into homes often as the base for a two-toned kitchen or to highlight an island or pantry wall. The simplicity of shaker means it can show the unique taste of a home without overwhelming the space, and can pair well with a statement countertop or other bold design choices.  

Do shaker cabinet doors improve resale value?

If the motivation for refacing your kitchen cabinets is resale, real estate agents will confirm that a Shaker door in a neutral color offers the broadest appeal for prospective buyers. Stick with handles or pulls that are simple and minimalist in design as they will offer the most cohesive look for your Shaker kitchen.  

An image of a gloomy kitchen with off-white cabinets, broken drawer fronts, and damage to the doors and drawers.
BEFORE: Broken drawer fronts and outdate raised panel doors.

“Nieu was the perfect solution for my clients. Their kitchen was in desperate need of an update to sell their home, but they didn’t want the timeline or price tag of a full kitchen renovation. Nieu Cabinet Doors completely refreshed their kitchen quickly and cost effectively. The order process was simple and the customer service was great, especially being able to call and walk through any questions. Their home sold the first day of showings!”

– Laura Waxter, Realtor for Coldwell Banker Pittsburgh
A bright, crisp kitchen with new shaker cabinet doors in white.
AFTER: Kitchen transformed with our Shaker door in Winter White.

How to use shaker cabinet doors in your kitchen:

DIY kitchen cabinet refacing is a project that homeowners with even minimal carpentry skills can tackle. If your kitchen layout works, your cabinet boxes are in good shape, and you own a few basic tools, you can achieve the Shaker look for your home. The basic steps to your DIY refacing project are:  

  • Take our free online design quiz or work with a designer to determine your shaker style and color  
  • Watch our instructional video on how to measure your kitchen for Nieu Shaker Doors  
  • Use our online order form to estimate and order your Nieu Shaker Doors  
  • Watch our how-to videos that cover all aspects of a DIY kitchen refacing project  
  • Install your Nieu Shaker Doors and speak with our technical expert at any time during the install for support  
  • When complete, raise a toast to the small group of craftspeople whose iconic design language is still relevant centuries later

Shaker cabinet doors are an iconic style that have endured centuries of design changes, and remain one of the most popular cabinetry choices in homes in 2020. Whether looking to update your kitchen to love where you live, or improve your resale value, our variations of shaker cabinet doors are sure to make you dance with joy in your Nieu kitchen.  

The Cost of Cabinet Refacing in an Investment Property

The Cost of Cabinet Refacing in an Investment Property

As a homeowner, your renovation budget is tight. As a landlord, it is much the same story. You need a durable, cost effective solution to attract and retain the best tenants without breaking the bank. At Nieu, we know how to maximize your home renovation dollar with cabinet refacing. We also know how to maximize your investment property upgrade.  

To give a real-life example we asked one of our clients who has over a decade of landlord experience to walk us through their kitchen transformation and cabinet refacing experience. The owners had clear priorities including: durability, boost to potential resale value, elevating the property from the ten-year-old builder’s basic finishes. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, doing so in a low-impact way so as not to disrupt rent paying tenants  

Why landlords choose cabinet refacing:

This project centers around a townhouse in a 10-year old development, that has been a rental since it was built. The current owners acquired the property two years ago, and painted the house from top to bottom, as well as made some other much needed improvements and repairs. With a fresh coat of paint and a general increase in upkeep, the existing kitchen soon became noticeable for its yellow looking cabinets and dysfunctional handle placement. The breakfast bar blocked the view of backyard park and the laminate countertops had begun to peel at the seams. With plans to sell the property within the next two years, the owners wondered what improvements could be made, on a tight budget, to transform this kitchen that is the heart of this open concept home. Their ultimate barometer was how to maximize their renovation ROI (return on investment) in the shortest amount of time.  

They chose cabinet refacing for their investment property because:  

  1. They needed to complete the project in a weekend while tenants were away.  
  2. The cabinet boxes were in solid condition. No need to replace everything, just needed some new doors.  
  3. A white, shaker cabinet door would improve the eventual resale value.  
  4. The kitchen layout is great, and it couldn’t change given the floorplan.  
  5. With new countertops, the cabinets could stay where they were, and saving money on a full kitchen remodel by refacing allowed them to purchase quartz counters.  
A large, u-shaped kitchen with brown wooden cabinet doors, a dark laminate countertops, black appliances, and stainless steel horizontal handles on the cabinet doors.

Visualize your kitchen refaced with Nieu Cabinet Doors

The homeowners wanted to visualize what the space would look like before making any larger financial decisions. They worked with our design team to have the space transformed in photorealistic 3D to show them two options. The first was with the breakfast bar remaining and counters and backsplash staying the same, and just ordering new doors but reusing the existing handles. The second design suggestion was to remove the breakfast bar, upgrade the countertop, make an impactful yet cost effective change to the handles, and install a new backsplash. The removal of the breakfast bar stood out as having the biggest change on modernizing the space, and since the counters needed to be replaced, it made sense to complete this step before ordering new panels and Shaker doors for the cabinet refacing part of the project.  

A computer rendering of an open concept u-shaped kitchen refaced with white shaker style cabinet doors. Pictured in the photo are barstools at a situp breakfast bar, black appliances, pendant lighting, dark hardwood floors, a dark countertop, and items on the counter.
Design 1: Kitchen transformed with Nieu doors only, and other kitchen elements remain the same.
A computer rendering of an open concept u-shaped kitchen refaced with white shaker style cabinet doors. Pictured in the photo are barstools at a situp peninsula, black appliances, pendant lighting, light hardwood floors, a white countertop, and items on the counter.
Design 2: Nieu doors combined with an updated countertop, backsplash, flooring and sink.

Kitchen Remodel Design Elements

To modernize this builder’s beige, slab cabinet door kitchen, the owners wanted a Shaker cabinet door to project a welcoming, bright, and modern-farmhouse style. The black appliances weren’t likely to change, but they wanted the design to still work with stainless if they or a future owner chose to swap them. This was presented in their design renderings which helped them to choose the following elements:  

  • Cabinet doors and drawer fronts: Stepped Shaker painted cabinet door in Winter White (Sherwin Williams Extra White)  
  • Cabinet pulls: Black, squared handles were used, all the same size for doors and drawers  
  • Countertop: White quartz counter with light, neutral speckles  
  • Backsplash: Kept the current dark glass subway tile  

Cabinet Refacing Cost

A pie chart showing the cost difference and items included in a kitchen refacing versus kitchen replacement project.

Our featured homeowners had a budget of $12,000 for the entire kitchen upgrade, and a short installation timeline to minimize disruption to paying tenants. They were quoted over $22,000 to rip everything out and replace the kitchen, with a minimum of one-week of installation, mess, and most importantly, tenants unable to make meals for the duration of a full kitchen replacement. Where did the savings come from by cabinet refacing instead of replacing? 

  1. Cost of new cabinet boxes. The old boxes were in excellent condition, and didn’t need to be removed and disposed of. Savings: approximately $4500. 
  2. Plumber/electrician. Maintaining the current layout of the kitchen meant no need for a plumber or electrician to re-route any of the lines or help with installation. Savings: approximately $2000   
  3. Installation. This DIY friendly project meant substantial savings on cabinet installation, and a faster time to complete the project. Savings: approximately $4500 and 5-7 days. 
  4. Backsplash. Careful removal of the old counter and installation of the new meant the existing backsplash was unscathed. This avoided the purchase and labor costs of replacing the backsplash. Savings: approximately $1200.

Saving more than 50% of the cost of replacing everything in this kitchen meant the homeowners could spend on “nice to haves” they hadn’t originally needed, like a new counter, sink and faucet, and upgraded cabinet pulls. Their project was budget friendly, tenant friendly, and completely transformed the space. 

Installing Cabinet Doors, Drawer Fronts, Panels and Trim for Cabinet Refacing

Cabinet refacing projects begin with removing the existing doors, drawer boxes, and existing panels. Generally, this can be accomplished in 2 hours-time. Next came installing large panels to reface the peninsula, fridge cabinet and the sides or gables of the upper and base cabinets. Cabinet edges can be painted and then toe kick, filler and light valence installed. Once the panels and trim were replaced it was time to get to the heart of a cabinet refacing project – installing new cabinet doors. The first step of hanging new cabinet doors is to mount the new soft close concealed hinges selected for this project. The doors came pre-drilled for hinges so it was quite easy to screw the new hinges onto the back of the doors with the supplied screws. Doors were then installed in the cabinets by fastening the hinge plates to the inside of the cabinets. It’s important to note that the doors weren’t readied for handles before they were mounted. This project proved why – once the cabinet doors were hung, the owners realized they wanted the handles in a different location than they originally planned. The drilling and installation of handles was the last step in bringing this kitchen together!  

A hand holds a measuring tape in front of an opening in a kitchen cabinet. Measuring the space for a new drawer front for refacing the kitchen.

This cabinet refacing project in a nutshell:

  • Eliminated the breakfast bar. Removed panel on the back of the breakfast bar and removed the breakfast bar ledge.  
  • Changed countertop. New countertop was selected – the owners chose quartz for its durability and to boost resale value. Counters were then measured, fabricated, and installed  
  • Updated sink and faucet. The new countertop allowed for a transition to an undermount sink and updated, modern faucet  
  • Measure cabinets for refacing. Doors, panels, trim, filler, and toe kick were measured for refacing.  
  • Order new cabinet doors and panels. The order with Nieu Cabinet Doors was placed.  
  • Receive and reface. The order arrived and was installed in just a few days  
  • Love your new kitchen. The landlords (and tenants) adored the new kitchen!  

Increasing Resale Value of an Investment Property

With the intention of selling this investment property within the next two years, realtors advised these homeowners that cabinet refacing was an effective way to maximize your resale value. In a townhouse complex where there hasn’t been a kitchen renovation to date, this helps to distinguish the property as a premium listing, when the time comes to sell.  

The Bottom Line  

A $20,000+ kitchen gut and renovation wasn’t financially feasible for these homeowners, or possible with tenants, and it wasn’t necessary. The existing cabinet boxes were in good shape and the layout of the kitchen was ideal. With advice from a realtor, refacing the kitchen cabinets was the most economical and impactful change the homeowners could make to increase the value of their investment property. Nieu Cabinet Doors was able to provide painted Shaker doors and drawer fronts that were affordable, stylish, and delivered on time allowing for a hassle-free renovation. Seeing the savings and the potential for the new look of the kitchen prompted the owners to spend the remaining kitchen budget on upgrading the countertop – something they wouldn’t have been able to do if they had to replace the cabinet boxes.  

Nieu took this kitchen from builder’s grade to beautiful, at a price that can’t be beat!  

The Difference Between Refacing and Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

The Difference Between Refacing and Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

A man and woman sitting in a kitchen in greyscale, having a conversation at the table.

Cabinet Refinishing vs. Cabinet Refacing

Let’s explain both approaches 

The kitchen is the number one renovation project in North America. Everyone wants an updated kitchen. Renovating your kitchen, however, can be a daunting task and the options for a makeover are endless and expensive. The high of cost kitchen remodeling often stops the conversation but many homeowners and landlords have come up with creative ways to augment their kitchen’s look and feel. Two cost effective options that are often confused and used to describe the same thing are cabinet “Refacing” and “Refinishing” sometimes called “Resurfacing”. It can be tricky to differentiate because both options allow for a custom update to your kitchen without having to tear out cabinets, countertops, and tiles. Both can dramatically improve the look of a dated kitchen at 50% or less the cost of a full kitchen replacement project. There are, however, some big differences.  

What is Cabinet Refinishing?

Cabinet refinishing typically refers to working with your existing cabinet doors and stripping off the paint or stain so that you can start fresh with any color you want. The removal or stripping of the existing finish is done with a chemical remover or lots of sanding, or a combination of both. Once the doors are properly prepared, they can then be stained or painted in the desired color.  

(5) tips for kitchen cabinet refinishing:

  1. Light to Dark is Easier. Going from a light cabinet color to a darker one is usually easier, and a door with lots of detailed edges will require significantly more prep than a modern, flat front door.  
  1. Time commitmentTake your time with the process. Improper preparation, paint, or tools can make the project frustrating and the results less than ideal. Slow and steady with the right products will make cabinet refinishing last. Prep and patience are your best friend when refinishing, but if you’re working long hours and have busy weekends, refinishing can be a challenge.  
  1. Thermofoil won’t work! If your doors and drawer fronts are thermofoil (the ones with the vinyl wrap that tends to peel when exposed to heat) or laminate, then refinishing won’t work. Refinishing requires that your cabinet doors be wood or MDF. Wood and MDF are porous, so they will accept paint and stain and allow for the top layers to be sanded away in order to receive fresh paint. Paint does not adhere well to vinyl or laminate doors (this isn’t to say that it can’t be done) but you will likely be disappointed in the results.  
  1. Re-styling is not an optionIf you want to change the style or profile of the cabinet doors. Refinishing doesn’t allow you to change the style profile of the door, only the color, meaning you’d better like the style you’ve got! No matter what color you paint your arched, raised panel doors, they won’t look modern.  
  1. Details, Details. Careful painting with a roller or sprayer, sanding between coats, priming, taping off edges and walls… if this sounds like your worst nightmare then refinishing is likely not the home improvement project for you to tackle.
A photo of a small kitchen with farmhouse sink, butcher block countertops and refinished, painted green cabinet doors.
Refinishing your cabinets if you have a door style you like can be a simple DIY for many homeowners.

What does Cabinet Refinishing Cost?

Costs can vary for refinishing, with the big variables being 1) the size of your kitchen, and 2) labor. As a DIY project, you may get an average sized kitchen done for as little as a few hundred dollars of material in addition to your sweat equity. Hiring a professional will result in a better finish but will cost significantly more. Since they will likely take your doors to their shop for the sanding and chemical stripping steps, you get to avoid both the mess and odor involved in refinishing cabinet doors. While it is like answering “How long is a piece of string?”, DIY refinishing projects are definitely much cheaper (as in 50% or less of a typical cabinet replacement).  

That said, the time commitment and logistics of a refinishing project often turn off would be DIY enthusiasts. Some people ask “What are my alternatives to refinishing?” Before you give up you might want to consider Cabinet “Refacing”. 

What is Kitchen Cabinet Refacing?

Cabinet refacing is a kitchen makeover that involves removing your existing cabinet doors and replacing them with new ones. It sounds like a simple DIY project, but there can be more to it. If you are happy with the color of your kitchen then it can be as simple as removing and replacing the cabinet doors in a matching color. However, if you want to change your kitchen to a new color, then the project becomes a little more complex. If the exterior of your cabinets are maple and you really want a white kitchen then you will need to reface the exterior of the cabinet boxes. After removing all the doors, you can update the color of the exterior of your cabinet boxes by either painting them to match your new doors, applying a laminate veneer to the exterior of the cabinets or using a combination of paint, veneer, and custom panels to reface the cabinet exteriors.  

Light filled home interior features small compact kitchen with white shaker cabinet doors
A bright kitchen with off-white shaker cabinet doors made this compact kitchen feel larger and more inviting. The perfect refacing transformation.

Is Cabinet Refacing for Everyone?

Cabinet refacing can be for everyone, but if you are making major changes to the layout of your kitchen that involves replacing your existing cabinets then it may be worthwhile to order entirely new cabinets and doors. If you are happy with your layout and are interested in a cost-effective way to update your kitchen cabinets, then refacing may be the answer. Whether installed by a professional or a handy homeowner, cabinet refacing can deliver the updated look you want at a budget that makes it worthwhile.  

Three different styles of shaker cabinet doors for kitchen cabinet refacing.

Five reasons to reface your kitchen:

  1. You are happy with the layout of your current kitchen.
  2. Your budget is limited.   
  3. You have some basic DIY skills and some extra time on your hands.
  4. Your countertops new and making your doors look dated.
  5. You are planning to sell your home and need a quick kitchen overhaul to maximize price.

What Does Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Cost?

Just like refinishing, the cost of cabinet refacing can vary depending on the size of your kitchen, door style, and if you DIY or hire it out. Professionals make it easier but add to the cost but as a DIY project you’ll need some basic carpentry tools and equipment to get the results you want. Doors for a smaller kitchen can cost anywhere from $500 and up. The good news is that no sanding or chemicals are needed for a basic DIY cabinet refacing project.  

Are you wondering “Is it cheaper to replace or reface cabinets?” or “How much do I save refacing cabinets compared to buying new cabinets?” A full kitchen remodel is costly, messy, and often inconvenient, and often not necessary! Cabinet refacing offers an inexpensive way to quickly get that kitchen remodel done, without the waste of buying all new cabinets. If cabinet painting sounds like fun to you, refinishing is your other kitchen remodeling option to get a quick and low-cost “new” kitchen. 

Watch our handy How to Measure Frameless Cabinets video to help you quote and place your order.


The verdict: it’s mostly a personal decision. On one hand, if you’re willing to put in the work to save on cost, refacing or refinishing can be a simple and fast solution to your kitchen cabinet woes. On the other hand, if there are larger issues with your kitchen’s layout or function, new doors or painting your existing doors and drawer fronts won’t solve the problem. 

Whether refinishing or refacing your cabinets, either process can be done as a DIY kitchen makeover. You can dramatically update the look of your existing kitchen without having to spend big on new cabinet boxes, or have to wait several months and cook on the barbecue. Whether you plan to sell or are updating to love the space you are in, a fresh-looking kitchen is sure to make that morning coffee taste even better. 

Let us know what kitchen project you’ll be tackling in the comments!