Are you the type of person that upgrades their car every few years, even though there is still some life in your current one? Mostly we do that because we want to have the latest tech and gadgets, or maybe we just want to look good to friends and family or it makes us feel warm and fuzzy.
What about your kitchen cabinets? Do the same rules apply? Maybe. New kitchen cabinets can do wonders for the overall value and can make your cabinets reflect the current you. But how do you know whether you need to repair or replace your cabinets? What are the concerns and considerations? Also, what options do you have when upgrading cabinets? Read on…
Many people will opt to resurface their existing cabinets, get through a good percentage of the job, only to wish they had just replaced them. That’s not always the case, and sometimes it does make more sense to repair those chips and finish problems. But, there’s more to consider, especially if the finish has been compromised, allowing bacteria and mold. That’s when you definitely want to replace. Following, we will explain the difference between cabinets you should replace and the cabinets you should restore.
How Long Do Kitchen Cabinets Generally Last?
For most people, whether you installed the cabinets new, or you purchased the cabinets with the house, they seem permanent, and it i overwhelming to think of changing them. Custom cabinets, while only for those that can afford it, generally last the longest, even up to 50 years. In the past, the pre-assembled, Big Box store cabinets you buy off the shelf, were the only other option, and they re-emphasized the old adage, “You get what you pay for,” and required constant maintenance, lasting sometimes a third of the life of custom cabinets. However, some smart cabinet makers have gotten together in the last decade, and upped the gam for ready-to-assemble, or RTA cabinets, with quality that lasts as long as custom cabinets.
Most times, though, the reason for considering a change is not because the cabinets are crumbling, but because, like a car, we get to the point where we want to have a modern look, which means a remodel. This is the best time to consider budgetary restrictions, since you’ll likely be changing flooring, walls, appliances, and cabinets.
So, if you are considering replacing your cabinets, you should take into consideration any other appliances or kitchen features that might need replacement at the same time. According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders the following kitchen appliances last on average:
- Cabinets: 20-50 years (depending on quality)
- Sink: 5-10 years
- Faucet: 15 years
- Dishwasher: 9 years
- Range, gas: 15 years
- Refrigerator: 13 years
- Countertops made of Quartz: lifetime
- Countertops made of natural stone (Marble, Granite, etc.): lifetime
- Countertops made of marble: 20 years
If you are going to need to replace other parts of your kitchen as well, it is important to keep this in mind when picking out new cabinets, for both style and budgetary reasons. Because your cabinets will last longer than other features of your kitchen, you want to make sure that you choose cabinets that will also outlast design trends, and can consistently match any changes to appliance styles you may choose as they retire themselves. RTA cabinets are great in this area since the colors, styles, and configurations consistently keep up with design trends, without drastic changes.
How to know when your cabinets need to be replaced?
When you think about it, the kitchen cabinets are exposed to more water, steam, traffic and abuse than any other part of the home. With stay-at-home parenting, remote work, and homeschooling, this is now even more true. So, kitchen cabinets must endure a lot, so they often need to be replaced before other cabinets in your home, even when installed at the same time. Here are 5 signs you should consider replacing over refacing your cabinets.
1. Water Damage
If you notice your cabinet lines are beginning to warp or swell, cabinet doors or drawers are not closing properly, or scuff or stain marks are more prevalent in the finish, then it is time to consider replacement. Warping and swelling are generally due to water damage, and it is not easily repaired. How many times do we find a leak months after it started, only to find the base cabinets flooring is rotted. This usually occurs in the sink base cabinet because we tend to shove bottles of cleaner and chemicals under the sink, and push on piping, which then becomes compromised.
In some minor instances, water damaged cabinets can be fixed, if you catch it in time. More serious situations of water damage are evident if:
- Outsides are de-laminating.
- Cabinets do not open or close properly.
- Wood has started to warp or twist.
- Cabinet finishes are bubbling up on the inside or outside.
- Wood has started to change colors.
- Cabinets show signs of mold.
The obvious first step is to find and fix the leaking problem. Next, you want to sufficiently dry out the cabinet. Once dry, the needed repairs can be made, if possible. You want to be sure that it is possible to repair your cabinets or whether you should consider replacing them.
2. Kitchen flow doesn’t match your habits
If the overall function and flow of your cabinets does not work for you, this is a definite sign that you may want to replace instead of repair. No matter how aesthetically pleasing refinishing your cabinets might look, your cabinets to serve your purposes, and can still cause anxiety.
Signs the flow and function of your cabinets could benefit from replacement:
- If your cabinets are hard to access and require removing items in order to reach other items behind them.
- If the cabinets open up all wrong. For instance, if a open door prevents a drawer from opening.
- The drawers do not open without using a lot of force. Or, you have to use your hip to successfully close a drawer. Simply removing the drawers and refacing them will not fix the problem.
- If the handles or knobs are dangling or gone altogether.
3. Deteriorating wood panels
Have your cabinet panels 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 will soon fall apart completely. The sides of your cabinets not only support the structure of the cabinet, but also the heavy countertop and appliances you place on them. No cosmetic changes can fix that.
4. Moldy Cabinets
Mold can grow from so many different surfaces, including your kitchen cabinets. Mold is usually caused by a water leak somewhere, so at the first sign of mold you should identify the source of water and fix that. You might be able to clean and dry the cabinets sufficiently, but mold, once present, can come back easily once moisture levels rise. Your family’s health requires you consider your options carefully.
5. The Cabinet Box is Compromised
If your hinges are loose and causing the doors to sag, and you can’t re-drill the holes without the wood falling apart, it may be tie to consider replacement. 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 making useless 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.
You want to make sure that it is worth it to repair your cabinets, so ask yourself: How long will the cabinets last after repairs? When will they eventually need replacing despite repairs? If your cabinets are not worth repairing, and you know it, then move on to the replacement idea. You will be much happier, and, ultimately, if you sell the house, the value will be increased.
For those that have purchased our RTA framed cabinets, the decision becomes easier knowing we have a paint-matching program with Sherwin Williams. You can match any of the framed cabinet colors for touching up. We also provide Touch-Up Kits if your job is a small one, or if you just want the piece-of-mind knowing it is in your toolbox.
Repair or Replace Cabinets That Will Outlast Your Needs
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. In other cases, you simply want to update the general feel and flow of the space.
Remember, though, make sure you repair the issues that might have caused the need for repair. Proper venting, fixing leaks, and good maintenance will make your cabinets last a lifetime.
If your budget doesn’t allow for handcrafted, custom cabinets, you have excellent options in ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets. TCC offers a large variety of cabinet colors, styles and configurations, which are easy to browse and buy right on our website. So, get your new layout ready, measure properly, and get to work making your kitchen everything you want it to be by choosing the right kitchen cabinets for you!