This is a frequently asked question and the answer is dependent on a couple of factors:
Age of the kitchen
Type of reface you desire
If you are thinking of replacing the bench-top at the same time.
Age of the kitchen:
Changing the doors on a kitchen is a relatively simple process if the kitchen is in good condition and ideally less than 10 years old.
It is important that the carcasses or the structure, if you like, of the cabinetry is still in good condition, to get a good fit on the new doors. If the carcasses have swollen, settled or are damaged, the new doors may not hang true, leaving you with irregular gaps and clearances, that are hard remedy and spoil the look of your “new” Kitchen.
Another important factor in the success of your Kitchen reface is the condition of your floors. It is important that the floors under the kitchen is still in good condition and there has been no sagging or water damage, or settling over time, as this can affect the integrity of the cabinetry and in turn how well the doors or panels will fit.
Old kitchens are not ideal for a door and panel change, due to the fact there was differing manufacturing processes and installations of older kitchens. For example, kitchens from the 60’s were built on site and often formed part of the structure of the house and so are very difficult to get apart to replace the panels and often the kitchen doors had a differing hinge system to modern kitchens.
Also, when a kitchen has been installed along time ago, it settles with the house and you may not notice that the kitchen and doors are now not level as everything has settled in at the same time.
If your kitchen is old it is more than likely a reface will not be the complete success you may have hoped for and you would be better advised to totally replace the whole kitchen.
Type of reface you want:
Partial reface: where just the doors and drawer fronts are replaced, is usually very quick & cost effective.
Total reface: If you are wanting (as most people do) the panels and toe kicks replaced as well as the doors and drawer fronts, then there is a little more involved, to replace all the colour panels the kitchen often has to be semi uninstalled to get these panels out and the new panels in. So, this can increase the time involved and may mean there is unexpected parts or hardware that maybe required to complete the job to an acceptable standard, and so this cost can be much higher than initially expected.
If you are thinking of replacing the bench top at the same time:
Bench-tops can be successfully replaced on most kitchens under 10 years old. The sink and tap will mostly need to be replaced at this time as well. Plumbing & electrical costs will need to be taken into consideration.
Laminate or Formica tops
Laminate bench-tops are generally cost effective and simple to replace. If there are tiles or glass around the bench-top, this may need to be removed and replaced as part of the process.
Large bench-tops sometimes need to be broken to remove them and so there may well be, some tiding up of walls and paint work required as part of the process.
Stone or Stainless steel
To replace a bench-top with a Granite, Engineered Stone or Stainless-steel is very dependent on the age & condition of the kitchen.
The kitchen structure or Carcasses must be undamaged and completely level & true to consider replacing them with stone or stainless-steel tops.
If a kitchen structure is not in good condition, replacing the bench-tops can become very costly, because if there is a lot of on-site work & new parts to be installed to level (remedy) the kitchen, to install the new bench-top, then costs can rise in an alarming manner.
Finally, if you are considering refacing your kitchen
Call in the experts to get an accurate assessment of the likelihood of a reface being a success. Look for a contractor that will give you an honest opinion and beware of cheap operators who promise the world and don’t deliver.
Keep your mind open to the possibility of a totally new kitchen, as most Kitchen manufacturers will tell you, sometimes a new kitchen is the most cost-effective option, especially if your kitchen is old or is in poor condition.
I hope this has been helpful, however no blog can replace a face to face meeting on site, with an experienced contractor , so look for a local business that has good recommendations and always get a comparison quote for a totally new kitchen, so you can make a informed decision, that suits your particular situation.