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Kitchen Cabinet Replacement Doors

Is It A Better Choice Than New Cabinets?

Buying kitchen cabinet replacement doors is an effective way to get the look of an upgraded kitchen without the sticker shock of a whole new cabinet system. It basically involves buying new doors to replace the old ones on your existing cabinets.

It sounds simple and it certainly beats the disruption and cost of tearing out old cabinets and buying new ones. But there's a few things you'll want to know about before you quickly go and unhinge your existing cabinet doors. So read on to find out if replacing the cabinet doors is a good strategy for your situation.

Note: In case you come across some terms on this page like "thermofoil" and you're not sure what they mean, take a look at our kitchen cabinet glossary. There you'll find an alphabetical list of terms commonly used in the 'cabinet-speak' language.

Why Replace (Just) The Doors And What's The Benefit?

If replacing your kitchen cabinet doors sounds like kitchen cabinet refacing, you're right. It is

part of that process. But it can also be stand-alone as well. In other words, if all you want to do (or really need to do) is replace the doors, you can do that, without having to do the rest of the standard cabinet refinishing process (like applying new veneer on the face frames and cabinet boxes, replacing drawer fronts and drawer boxes, etc.).

The only caveat is that you'll have to match the color of the new doors (stained or painted) to the rest of the cabinetry, or be happy with as close a match as you can achieve.

So when does it make sense to take this route over buying new cabinets altogether or opting for a more in-depth cabinet refinishing? Consider these reasons:

  1. A New Look - your cabinets are structurally sound but you just want a new look that's achieved with a new door style (keep in mind that 90% of what you see when you look at cabinetry are the doors).
  2. kitchen cabinet door

    Perhaps you've lived with raised panel doors but now prefer the look of Shaker styling. Changing the doors can achieve that for you. (New drawer fronts may be needed if you choose a door style that's a complete departure from your current drawers or not compatible from a style perspective).

  3. Tired/Worn Doors - the doors on your cabinets are tired, sagging and worn from years of use but the boxes and drawers are in good shape.
  4. Convenience (To An Extent) - you've decided to refinish your existing cabinets yourself and rather than deal with the effort of refinishing the existing doors, you'll buy replacement cabinet doors in a stain or color to match the new look.

    Maybe you've decided to paint your cabinets white. Rather than dealing with stripping and painting the existing doors, you can choose to buy white rigid thermofoil (RTF) doors that will also provide an easily-maintained surface.

    There are also thermofoil doors that mimic the look of wood grain and actually come pretty close to the look of finished wood. There again, if you're not refacing your cabinet boxes, you'll be faced with matching your new doors to the rest of the cabinets and drawers.

Keep in mind that this assumes you're happy with your existing cabinet layout and that they're in good structural condition. If you think you need more extensive refurbishment like new drawers, drawer fronts, a change of wood (different color, grain prominence), etc., you may want to investigate the kitchen refacing route.

The benefits of replacing just the cabinet doors are several:

  • Lower Cost - replacing just the doors is less expensive than replacing all the cabinets (boxes, drawers, etc.). You can also purchase your doors directly from the manufacturer which provides some savings too.
  • Faster Results - your kitchen remodel/cabinet face-lift will be finished earlier than it would if you replaced all the cabinets.
  • Less Disruption - tearing out old cabinets to make way for new ones is more disruptive to your kitchen than replacing doors. You'll temporarily have to relocate everything that your cabinets currently store if you choose to replace the whole cabinet system rather than just the doors.

Once you've decided that replacing the kitchen cabinet doors is a good option for you, you'll need to determine . . .

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Who's Going To Do It?

The nature of replacement kitchen cabinet doors is that it's fairly do-it-yourself-friendly (DIY). Depending on how handy you are, and/or how motivated you are to save some money, replacing the cabinet doors yourself is an option worth considering.

One way to buy replacement cabinet doors is by working with a local cabinet shop. The benefit here is that they're local and you have the ability to communicate and do business face to face. It may also be easier to match your existing cabinet color if you can show them an existing door or have them come out to your home.

The downside of working with a local shop is that most shops are in the business of making whole cabinets and may not even make their own doors, contracting out to manufacturers that specialize exclusively in the production of cabinet doors.

As a result, the local cabinet shop's cost may not be as competitive as the online sellers of replacement cabinet doors due to the realities of volume sales and specialization that the door manufacturers have. However it's worth checking into.

If you're not inclined to replace your cabinet doors yourself, there are still a couple of options open to you:

  • Order the doors yourself and hire a contractor or cabinet shop to install them for you
  • Purchase doors through a local kitchen cabinet refacing company (however be specific about wanting just door replacement without cabinet refacing or new drawer fronts)

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What Do I Need To Consider When Replacing Kitchen Cabinet Doors?

If you're thinking about replacing your kitchen cabinet doors there are some things you'll want to consider first, particularly if you're going to buy online.

  • Finished Or Unfinished - replacement cabinet doors are available finished (stain, paint, etc.) or unfinished. Choosing pre-finished doors alleviates having to do the staining/varnishing or painting yourself although it may take some effort to find a very close match to your existing cabinets' color.

    kitchen cabinet door

    Unfinished doors allow you to stain or paint them yourself but you'll have the same task of trying to match the cabinet color. Also, if you opt for unfinished doors, find out if the doors have already been pre-sanded or if you'll have to do the sanding that's required to prep the wood for the paint or stain.

  • Measurements - you'll need to provide the measurements of your existing doors including the location of the hinges. Some companies supply doors with pre-established hinge locations so if your hinge locations don't match theirs, you'll have to let them know that they need to drill to your specifications. This may also incur additional cost. Other companies don't drill the hinge locations requiring you to do it yourself.

    You may also have to drill the holes for the door handles since their location is often times discretionary, based on the customer's desired location.

    How you take the measurements will also vary based on whether you have framed or frameless doors. Be sure to take note of the type of cabinets you have (framed or frameless) and the specific measurement instructions provided by the door company. If you need some help understanding what framed and frameless cabinets look like, see the cabinet construction page for an explanation.

  • Shipping Costs - shipping is another cost you'll have to factor into the overall price. It may be offset however by lower prices you get from buying cabinet replacement doors online direct from the manufacturer. Some companies offer free shipping on orders exceeding a certain quantity.
  • Purchasing Online - you may have concerns about buying over the internet, particularly on items that could cost several hundreds of dollars.

    kitchen cabinet doors

    Companies that do business primarily through the internet usually make efforts to ease these types of concerns with potential customers by providing information on their security policies as well as offering several ways for communication such as a phone number, email and fax.

    Check to see if they participate with the Better Business Bureau. You can check to see a company's record and/or see whether they're even affiliated with the BBB on their website at BBB.org.

  • One final note about online purchases is that major credit cards have buyer-protection policies designed to protect you in the event of fraud.

  • Payment, Shipping & Return Policies - similar to buying kitchen cabinets online, each replacement cabinet door seller has specific policies with regard to shipping, damaged goods and returns. You should be aware of these policies before you purchase so that you're not surprised if there's a problem with the order.

    Custom-made replacement doors are usually not returnable for reasons other than manufacturing or shipping damage. If you're ordering custom doors (doors that are not regularly on the retailer's shelf stock) make sure you've given them the right measurements and double-checked your order.

    You'll also be responsible for inspecting the doors upon receipt as well as unloading them from the truck (in the US, based on US Interstate Commerce Commission regulations).

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Here's More Related Info That Might Be Helpful...

Cabinet Refacing - Here's another way to refresh your existing cabinets. Discover what's involved with cabinet refacing and whether it's an option for you.

Cabinet Knobs & Pulls - If you get new cabinet doors you might want new knobs. However there's more to cabinet hardware than just how they look. Learn more in this article on choosing new knobs and pulls.

Kitchen Cabinet Hinges - Cabinet hinges come in various styles with different levels of functionality. Find out what's involved in choosing new cabinet hinges.

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