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Kitchen and Bath Remodelers in Orlando - Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing, Refacing, or Replacing?


Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing, Refacing, or Replacing?

13. 11. 26
posted by: Super User

  When it comes to kitchen renovations, there are three very important questions one should ask; Do you replace? Do you refinish? or Do you reface? From the three options above, obviously it is always best to replace everything, right? Not always the case! When the funds are scarce, people tend to lean towards refinishing or refacing. So for the purposes of this article, I will focus on the two less expensive options, Refacing and Refinishing. 

  My thoughts on refacing, I think this is not a good option for the consumer, typically the cost of refacing is 2/3 the cost of replacing. Refacing is a process where we replace the doors only, your cabinet boxes will remain the same, and your cabinets will be laminated with a thin veneer to match the new custom made doors. Due to this customization of the doors, the cost of refacing is significantly higher than refinishing. However, it may be a good option if you have stone countertops already in place, the cost of removing and reinstalling stone counters may offset the benefits of replacing. In this case, the determining factor would be the overall structural condition of your cabinets and your budget. 

 As for refinishing, this option seems to be very popular for DIY'ers these days, it is a very simple process in its rudimentary form, and very inexpensive for the most part. Anyone can purchase a gallon of paint and brush it on the cabinets. However, to achieve a factory finish with latex paints and brushes is impossible. A factory finish produces a level and consistent surface, which requires very expensive equipment, trained professionals, and lots of surface preparation. There are two systems which have been highly used by professionals, HVLP and Airless - now which is better?

 HVLP vs. Airless? 

 HVLP stands for high volume low pressure, this system uses a turbine fan which blows high volume air through a hose into a canister or gravity feed sprayer. This system produces less overspray so it is very easy to work with and it produces a very high quality finish, similar to a factory finish. The major drawbacks to this system are the speed, cost, and they are extremely loud. They are typically worth $2,500 to $3,000 for a quality unit. So for DIY'ers, this may not be a good financial decision. Some contractors prefer the airless spray system because it is much faster, and it can also produce a factory like finish with the appropriate steps. 


 Airless spray systems operate under much higher pressures, up to 3000 psi. The system uses a piston instead of a turbine; it is very quiet compared to the HVLP systems. Once the system builds up the pressure the motor stops and only comes back on again when it needs more pressure as you use more paint. These sprayers vary significantly in cost, they range anywhere from $699 to $15,999 for different applications. The most important thing to remember when using an airless spray system is the right tip size for the job. The tips have three numbers written on them. The first digit stands for the fan width, fan width is the size of the paint spraying out of the gun, you take that one digit you multiply it by two and that is your fan width. So, for example if the first number is 4, the fan width would be 8 inches. The next two numbers stand for the amount of material, they are decimals in millimeters such as 0.11 or 0.13, higher number means a larger tip opening, the right size depends on the type of paint you are using. For example, lacquer paint you can use anywhere from 0.11 to 0.15. In my opinion, the best tip to use for spraying Cabinets is the 411. These tip recommendations are usually in the back of the can, along with thinning instructions, you must follow them very carefully. Always use eye protection, respirators, and hand gloves when working with these high pressure units.


The best paint to use for cabinets is pre-catalyzed lacquer paint, it is very durable, produces a quality factory finish, and dries very quickly, drying time is very important if you live in high humidity areas like Orlando, Florida. The problem with lacquer paint are the fumes, it is very toxic, you must have adequate ventilation, and it takes a few days for the smell to disappear. The other option is oil based paint which takes at least 24 hours or more between coats (in Florida - maybe even longer when humidity is high), oil based paint is less harmful than lacquer in terms of fumes, and very durable. Latex would be the least harmful to your health but it would be the worst performer, it would likely not last very long and may chip and/or peel with time, especially if the surface is not very well prepared.

Hopefully this article will help you make the very important decision of refreshing your kitchen, any comments or question, please post or contact me, thank you.  


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