Not every kitchen remodel calls for all-new kitchen cabinets. If new cabinets just aren't in the budget, and your cabinetry remains in good shape but looks dated, you have options. Easy and affordable redos include adding organization accessories to the interior of boxes and drawers to provide more storage, and replacing knobs, pulls and other hardware to add fresh style.
Other exterior makeovers require more effort and money. Refinishing means that keeping all of your existing cabinetry and simply changing the color or finish. This is done through hand sanding or chemically stripping the existing finish from the wood, then applying a new paint or stain. This works best on wood cabinets. Laminate and thermofoil can't be sanded or stripped, and it's "nearly impossibly for paint to stick," says John Williams of Sears Home Improvement Products.
Refacing means keeping the cabinet boxes but replacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts with new ones. This allows you to change both the style and the color. You can also replace cabinet side panels, face frames and moldings so that everything matches.
Can't decide between refinishing and refacing? Consider door style, kitchen layout and budget. If you hate your door style, why refinish them? Likewise, if you don't like your kitchen's configuration and want to add an island or other cabinetry, don't refinish; it will be very difficult to match to new cabinetry, unless you paint instead of stain. However, if budget is your top priority, refinishing is the cheaper option.