The basic refacing project consists of installing new cabinet door and drawer fronts and covering the exposed face frames of the cabinets with a matching wood or plastic veneer. Most jobs take two to four days, depending on kitchen size and extras like replacing counters or adding an extra cabinet. The work itself is a standardized progression of tasks, generally handled by one or two craftsmen. They begin by removing doors and drawer fronts from cabinets and roughing up the old finish on face frames and side panels to prepare them for the new covering. They then glue and sometimes nail the new finish over the old, the nail holes filled and the seams and edges trimmed to make them unobtrusive. New panels or molding are used to trim out the exposed undersides of the upper cabinets to give them a finished look, and the base cabinet toekick is replaced. Finally, new cabinet doors and drawer fronts are attached, and new hardware is mounted on each of them. There generally are three finish options: plastic laminates, rigid thermofoils (RTF) and wood veneer. Refacing laminates come in a wide variety of solid colors and wood-grain looks. Slightly more expensive than RTF, laminates nevertheless lack malleability, which means they're limited to plain cabinet door styles when compared with RTF. RTF is a very malleable vinyl foil pressure-molded over medium-density-fiberboard doors. It can be shaped and molded in a range of styles, including arched and cathedral doors, raised panel and eyebrow raised panels. RTF comes in a fewer solid colors than laminates, but its wood grain is made to look realistic. "From 10 ft., it would be hard for the average person to tell it from real wood," says Michael Mard, a kitchen and bath designer for Alure Kitchen Refacing in East Meadow, New York. Up close is another story, however, and for that reason, wood veneers remain a popular option. "Plastic laminates are fairly true to life, but there's a beauty and richness to wood that you just can't get with other materials," says Brian Titus, of Cabinetpak Kitchens, which operates refacing companies in Washington, D.C., and Ohio. Refacing a kitchen with wood will cost from 10 percent to 25 percent more than RTF and laminates, and it can be done in oak, maple, cherry, birch, walnut or almost any other wood a customer wants.
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