How to Reface Your Own Cabinets

Refacing your kitchen or bathroom cabinets can breathe new life into your home without the expense of a full remodel. Refacing involves replacing the doors, drawer fronts, and hardware on existing cabinet boxes and frames to give them a fresh, updated look. With some time and effort, you can reface your own cabinets and save thousands over the cost of installing all new custom cabinetry. This comprehensive DIY guide will walk you through the entire process from start to finish.

Gather Your Materials

The first step in any DIY project is making sure you have all the necessary materials on hand before you start. For a kitchen or bathroom cabinet refacing project, you’ll need:

  • New cabinet doors and drawer fronts – These can be ordered from a cabinet supply store or home improvement store. Have accurate measurements of your existing cabinets.
  • Sandpaper – An assortment of grits like 80, 120, and 220 for sanding.
  • Wood filler – To fill any holes, scratches, or imperfections.
  • Primer – Choose a high-quality primer made for painting cabinets.
  • Paint – Cabinet-grade paint in your desired color(s).
  • Paint brushes and supplies – Angled sash brush, high-quality roller, paint tray, rags, etc.
  • New hardware – Knobs, pulls, hinges, etc. that fit your style.
  • Screwdrivers, wrench – To remove old hardware and install new.
  • Painter’s tape – For masking off areas.
  • TSP substitute – To clean and prep cabinet surfaces before painting.
  • Rags, wood cleaner, tack cloth – For cleaning between steps.
  • Drop cloths – For protecting floors and countertops.

Once you’ve gathered all your refacing materials, you’re ready to get started with the project.

Remove Cabinet Doors and Hardware

The first step in the cabinet refacing process is removing all the doors, drawers, and hardware from the cabinet boxes so you can work on them individually.

  • Empty out your cabinets and clear your workspace to allow easy access.
  • Number doors and drawers with painters tape so you can easily reinstall them in their original spots later.
  • Use a screwdriver to remove all hinges from doors and drawer fronts. Set screws aside.
  • Carefully lift off doors and drawer fronts and set them aside in a safe location.
  • Remove all hardware like knobs and pulls with a screwdriver. Toss or recycle.
  • Repeat for all cabinets in the kitchen or bathroom.

With all doors, drawers, and hardware removed you can now focus on prepping the cabinet surfaces.

Prep and Clean Cabinets

Thoroughly cleaning and sanding existing cabinet surfaces is a crucial step to ensure the new paint and finishes properly adhere.

  • Use TSP substitute cleaner and rags to clean inside cabinet boxes and wipe down frames.
  • Lightly sand frames and side panels with 220 grit sandpaper to scuff the surface.
  • Vacuum up all sanding dust using a brush attachment. Wipe down with tack cloth.
  • Fill any cracks, holes, or imperfections in frames and sides with wood filler. Allow to fully dry.
  • Sand wood filler smooth and blend into surface. Wipe clean with damp rag.
  • Use drop cloths to cover countertops and flooring to protect from drips and spills.
  • Carefully clean, fill imperfections, and sand cabinet doors and drawer fronts as well.

Thorough prep removes contaminants for the best paint adhesion. Now the cabinets are ready for priming and painting.

Prime and Paint Cabinets

Applying multiple thin coats of high-quality primer and cabinet paint will give your refinished cabinets a flawless, professional look.


  • Use an angled sash brush to apply primer to cabinet frames, sides, doors, and drawer fronts. Work in thin, even coats.
  • Allow primer to fully dry following manufacturer’s instructions before sanding.
  • Lightly sand primed surfaces with fine 220 grit sandpaper to ensure smoothness.
  • Wipe clean with a tack cloth and apply a second coat of primer. Allow to dry fully.
  • Apply a third coat of primer for maximum durability and adhesion of paint.


  • Once primer is completely dried, use a high-quality mini roller and angled brush to paint cabinet surfaces, doors, and drawers.
  • Work in thin, even coats to avoid drips and brush marks. Allow proper drying time between coats.
  • Sand lightly with fine sandpaper between coats for an ultra-smooth finish. Wipe clean with a tack cloth.
  • Apply a minimum of 3 coats of cabinet paint for a durable, professional finish. Allow final coat to cure fully.

Priming and painting with care will leave your newly refaced cabinets looking like brand new custom jobs.

Install New Doors, Drawers, and Hardware

You’re nearing the home stretch. The final step is installing the brand new doors, drawers, and hardware you’ve selected.

  • Refer to numbering system and reinstall doors and drawer fronts to their original cabinet frames.
  • Use a wrench to install new hinges for proper alignment and function. Adjust as needed.
  • Install new knobs, pulls, or handles with a screwdriver by following included hardware instructions.
  • Open and close doors and drawers to test for proper fit and smooth motion. Adjust as needed.
  • Remove all painter’s tape and carefully clean up any drips or spills with rags and cleaner.

Stand back and admire your like-new, freshly refaced cabinets! Enjoy the satisfaction of refacing your own cabinets.

FAQs About Refacing Kitchen Cabinets Yourself

Still have some questions about DIY kitchen cabinet refacing? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

How long does it take to reface cabinets?

For an average sized kitchen with about 25 cabinets, expect the refacing process to take 2-3 full weekend days or 3-4 weekday evenings. Exact timeframe depends on number of cabinets and your refinishing speed.

What about the cabinet interiors?

Focus your refacing efforts on visible exterior surfaces only. Unless the inside of cabinets are also highly damaged or worn, you usually don’t need to prime and paint cabinet interiors.

Should I reface or fully replace cabinets?

If cabinet boxes and frames are structurally sound, refacing is very affordable compared to full replacement. Refacing also avoids the mess and labor of removing and installing all new cabinets.

Can I change the cabinet layout when refacing?

Some minor modifications like removing or relocating a cabinet or two can work with refacing. But generally the existing cabinet footprints stay the same. For major layout changes, full replacement is better.

How do I get rid of an odor inside cabinets?

Along with replacing any shelving or interior surfaces with lingering smells, thoroughly cleaning inside cabinets with an odor-eliminating primer like Kilz can help remove stubborn odors during refacing.

Should I refinish cabinets myself or hire a pro?

An experienced cabinet refacer can complete the project much faster. But if you’re up for a DIY challenge, refacing your own cabinets can save you thousands of dollars.

Refacing your kitchen or bathroom cabinets is an achievable DIY project that can give your cabinets a fresh, new look at a fraction of the cost of full cabinet replacement. Follow the techniques outlined above and with some patience and elbow grease, you can refinish cabinets on your own and save big on this budget-friendly upgrade.


Refacing tired, worn cabinets provides an affordable alternative to a pricey full kitchen or bathroom remodel. With some time and effort, you can tackle refacing your cabinets as a DIY project and reap big rewards.

Follow this comprehensive guide that outlines all the steps, supplies, and techniques needed for success. Prep properly, work methodically, and look forward to showing off your refreshed cabinets. Refacing cabinets yourself allows you to customize the finished look while enjoying major cost savings.

Your kitchen or bathroom will get a phenomenal facelift with beautiful new cabinet doors, hardware, finish and the satisfaction of completing a DIY upgrade from start to finish. So gather your materials, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to breathe new life into your cabinets with a DIY refacing project.