Have you ever had an old car that required constant repairs? Eventually it gets down to the question: does it make more economic sense to get a new car, or continue making repairs? This same conundrum can occur with your kitchen cabinets as they begin to show signs of aging.
It’s not uncommon for people to start resurfacing their cabinets only to realize it costs a lot more than they were expecting to make their old cabinets look new. Many homeowners begin restoring original cabinets, and get 70% through the project before wishing they had just replaced the cabinets. That doesn’t mean it’s always a bad idea to repair or replace, in fact sometimes it’s smarter to resurface cabinets than to buy completely new ones. Here we explain the difference between cabinets you should replace vs. cabinets you should restore.
How Long Do Kitchen Cabinets Generally Last?
When installing your kitchen cabinets they can feel pretty permanent, and they should be. Depending on the quality of the wood cabinets you purchase, the amount of time they will last will vary. In general, high quality cabinets can last up to 50 years. This sounds like an incredible long period of time, and cabinets are in fact one of the longest lasting components of your entire kitchen.
If you are debating if it’s time to replace your cabinets, you should take into consideration any other appliances or kitchen features that might need replacement soon. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders the following kitchen appliances last on average:
Sink: 5-10 years
Faucet: 15 years
Dishwasher: 9 years,
Cabinets: 50 years
Range, gas: 15 years
Refrigerator: 13 years
Countertops made of natural stone: lifetime
Countertops made of marble: 20 years
If you are going to need to replace other parts of your kitchen soon it’s important to keep this in mind when picking out new cabinets, for both style and budgetary reasons. Since your cabinets are going to last so long, you want to pick out cabinets that will match your current appliances, as well as the new appliances you plan to get in the future. In order to accomplish this without a hitch, classic style cabinets make the safest long-term investments.
If you buy your house used you might not even know the exact age of your cabinets. Not that age always matters. You can’t simply go by the number of years your cabinets have been in use. Certain factors can cause your kitchen cabinets to wear away faster, no matter their original quality. Plus, some cabinets don’t hold up as well as others, meaning not all cabinets are going to last for 50 years—not even close. Since age alone can’t tell you if it’s time to replace your cabinets, what can?
Top Signs Your Cabinets Need To Be Replaced
Kitchen cabinets are exposed to more water, steam, and other damaging elements than cabinets in most other parts of your home. Because all kitchen cabinets must endure, they often need to be replaced before other cabinets in your home are installed at the same time. Here are 5 signs you should consider replacing over refacing your cabinets.
1. Water Damage
Are your cabinets swollen, not properly closing, or showing dark color spots? If yes, your problem might be water damage. Since most kitchen cabinets are crafted from wood, water damage is a likely occurrence. Wood can easily be damaged by water, and in your kitchen there is always a lot of water, especially if you have a leak somewhere.
In some minor instances, water damaged cabinets can be fixed. Here are signs of more serious water damage if the:
Wood has started to warp.
Cabinets are bubbling up on the inside or outside.
Outsides are de-laminating.
Wood has started to blacken, or otherwise change colors.
Cabinets show signs of mold.
Cabinets do not open or close properly.
The first step is always to find and then stop the source of the water from getting into the wood. Next, you want to sufficiently dry out the cabinet. Once dry, the appropriate repairs can be made, if possible. This will include replacing certain parts and bleaching out stains, a process that can take some time and money. You want to be sure that it is possible to repair your cabinets before embarking on the task.
2. Overall Function Is Frustrating
If the overall function of your cabinets does not work for you, this is another sign that you may want to replace instead of repair. No matter how aesthetically pleasing you refinish your cabinets to look if they do not efficiently function you will still be craving a remodel.
Signs the design of your cabinets could benefit from replacement:
If your cabinets are hard to access and require removing items in order to reach other items tucked in the back.
If the cabinets open up all wrong. For instance, if you open 2 cabinet doors at once and they slam into one another.
The drawers do not open without getting stuck, making an odd sound, or causing some sort of issue. This is a sign of further damage beneath the surface. Simply removing the drawers and refacing them will not fix the problem.
Have your cabinets gone soft? Push on the sides of your cabinet walls, do they feel soft at all? If so, this is a sign that your cabinets are badly damaged and will soon fall apart completely. The sides of your cabinets are SO important, if they are not in good condition there is no point to waste money making aesthetic changes.
4. Moldy Cabinets
Mold can grow from so many different surfaces, including your kitchen cabinets. When mold is caught early on it can be cleaned up and stopped, but when mold is left unidentified it will continue to grow and worsen. Not only can mold compromise the general integrity of your cabinets, but also large quantities of mold can hamper you and your family’s health. Mold is usually caused by a water leak somewhere, so at the first sign of mold you should identify the source of water so that the problem does not continue to occur.
5. The Cabinet Box Is In Bad Shape
If the cabinet box is too worn for you to re-drill new holes or mount new hinges, the structure of the cabinet box will not be sound enough to support new cabinet doors. Without the ability to work with the current wood, your entire cabinet box needs to be replaced; otherwise you risk wasting a lot of money trying to make unsuccessful repairs. Before you buy new doors, or sand down, and repaint your old doors, you should make sure that the wood is able to support new holes and hinges.
Should You Repair Your Cabinets? Signs Your Cabinets Are Good For Repairs
Refacing cabinets means to update the doors, paint the exterior, and place a layer of veneer on the cabinet box. Since cabinets can last for such a long time, this is a very popular remodeling technique. Another way people easily spruce up a solid set of cabinets is by adding new hardware, such as handles that make a refreshed statement.
Refacing your cabinets allows you to re-style and update wood without spending a fortune, but that doesn’t mean refacing cabinets is cheap. On average it will cost around $150 to replace each door and/or drawer on your cabinets. This adds up, but not as quickly as entirely new cabinets.
You want to make sure that it is worth it to repair your cabinets, ask yourself: how long will your cabinets last after repairs? When will you need to finally replace them altogether? It really only makes sense to reface your cabinets if they are in overall good condition, poised to last for many more years.
Signs your cabinets are eligible to be resurfaced or repaired:
Overall, you still appreciate the general function, size, layout and design of your cabinets.
The doors are the most outdated part that you don’t like. This is a simple fix; you can either reface your cabinets or purchase new doors instead of completely new cabinets.
Your cabinets are still in good condition inside the cabinet box and on the outer exterior.
Cabinets compliment your overall kitchen design, and other appliances.
Replace or Repair Cabinets That Last
Before spending the money, time, and effort it takes to repair cabinets you want to be sure that you are making the right decision. Sometimes cabinets need to be replaced simply because they have gotten old and worn out. In other instances, cabinets prematurely wear out long before they should. In this instance, you will want to identify the reasons your cabinets have worn out beyond repair to make sure that the same problem does not happen again.
Even if you purchase all new cabinets you will not be able to stop the problem from happening again if you do not first solve the issue that caused your original cabinets to wear out. Check over your cabinets for any signs of warping or swelling, especially cabinets regularly exposed to humidity and water. If your cabinets are warping due to humidity, a humidifier can help slow down the damage.