When you're thinking about upgrading your cabinets, your options will include refinishing or replacing them. Refinishing the cabinets is the cheaper alternative; however, at some point, it will not be the best option. Replacing offers a permanent solution, but it's costlier and might even be unnecessary if refinishing can still achieve comparable results. There are a few questions you should ask yourself before you make a decision on whether to replace or refinish.
What Is the Physical State of the Cabinets?
Are your cabinets covered in holes/dents? Is the wood looking weak and soft? If this is the case, you should definitely consider replacing the cabinets. Replacement is usually the go-to option when the cabinet has faults that go beyond the surface. When the wood is structurally compromised, the cabinets will look weak and damaged regardless of what is done to the surface.
However, when the structure of the cabinets is fairly solid, they are still candidates for refinishing. In fact, since refinishing involves stripping off the existing finish, sanding, and other activities, the cabinets will need to be in fairly good shape. Otherwise, the process may further the physical damage.
How Much Will Replacement Cost?
In a perfect world, you'd be able to throw out your old cabinets as soon as you felt they didn't look right. However, we live in a world with budgets, and that's a pretty big deal when it comes to cabinets. New cabinets are quite expensive, and unless you have been preparing to replace the cabinets for a while, it may not even be an option you're able to entertain.
On the other hand, refinishing is a relatively inexpensive process. In fact, if you have the right skills, you might be able to handle some tasks on your own.
Do You Have the Right Assistance?
Whether you opt to refinish or replace your cabinets, you'll need to have someone with the right skills assisting you. You'll need a cabinet contractor who is capable of handling either the installation of new cabinets or refinishing of your old cabinets. A poor job will mean less than satisfactory results.
What Degree of Change Do You Want?
If you're simply looking to change the external look of your cabinets, refinishing should serve you well enough. However, if you want to change more (e.g. the size of the cabinets, number of drawers etc.), it may make more sense to replace the cabinets instead by a custom cabinetry professional.