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Updating laminate cabinets

Deciding which of these three options you choose comes down to budget.

Refinish or paint existing cabinet and drawer fronts. Install new wood or laminate veneer over existing cabinet and drawer fronts. Install completely new cabinet doors and drawer fronts."Don't spend money to refront products that are truly worn out." Says Gary Reynolds, a cabinet craftsman in North Carolina, "Cabinets built prior to the 1980s were generally built of better materials than newer ones.Back then, 3/4-inch plywood was actually 3/4-inches thick and particle board was used for floor underlayment," explains Gary, who handles both refacing and new cabinet construction.Pulls and knobs contribute a lot to your kitchen's style, swapping them out can take your kitchen from traditional to modern.When refacing the cabinets, consider freshening up the interiors too."With conversion to open shelving there is an opportunity to refinish interiors in another color from the exterior or add beadboard backs," Lorey says.

However, even if your original cabinets are solidly built and in good condition, refacing or converting to open shelving may not be the best option if your current cabinet design or layout isn't efficient or functional.

Another alternative for homeowners with older cabinets in good condition is to remove the doors altogether and convert their existing cabinets to open shelving.

Interior shelves can be removed or reconfigured inside the existing cabinet frames for a thoroughly modern and updated look.

"The process doesn't require removal of the appliances, so the kitchen stays functional while the work is being done." Even with the potential cost-savings, however, refacing isn't right for every kitchen remodel.

Before making the decision to reface, rather than replace, homeowners need to consider a number of factors, starting with the "bones" of their current kitchen cabinets.

Fans of refacing say this mini-makeover can give a kitchen a whole new look at a much lower cost than installing all-new cabinets.