Friday, September 23, 2011

Getting More for Less

Everybody wants to get more for less, especially in these troubled times. I’ll never forget in Key Largo (great movie), Humphrey Bogart (hero), asks Edward G. Robinson, (villain), what he wants, and Eddie G. says, “More! . . . Yeah!” And you just knew that he had no intention of paying for it. But, that was the movies, and in real life you have a better chance of getting the appearance of more, while spending less, than actually getting something for nothing.
One creative way of getting the appearance of more, while spending less, is to update your kitchen or bathroom cabinets by replacing the doors and drawer fronts. Unlike refacing, where the cabinet itself is veneered or laminated to match the new fronts, this approach matches (or contrasts) the new fronts to the existing cabinet frames.
 Assuming the cabinet frames are in good condition, by replacing the doors, drawer fronts, hinges and hardware, you can save a bundle and yet still have the look of a new kitchen. The saving is derived from not having to pay for the labor and materials to reface the cabinets themselves. And, there are several scenarios where this remodeling technique can be successfully applied.
If your cabinets are white, almond or off-white, it’s a pretty straight forward process. Using RTF (rigid thermofoil) laminate doors, the old fronts are taken off and the new ones installed. There are over a hundred styles to choose from, ranging from the popular Shaker style to traditional raised panel designs. Styles are priced on the complexity of their design, with a flat door being the most economical and raised panel designs costing more. Since the color of the cabinet is pretty standard, matching should not be a problem.
If your cabinets are wood and have been stained there are more variables to consider. The first option is to see if there is a factory stain that closely matches the finish of your existing cupboards. If you find something that blends with the cabinets, you’re all set. As with the RTF fronts, there are hundreds of wood door styles available, and, again, price depends upon the design of the replacement fronts.
The second option, albeit the most expensive of these inexpensive solutions, is to select new wood fronts and have them stained to match the color of the existing frames. The extra charge to have the fronts stained a specific color is still less expensive than refacing the whole cabinet.
Another option for wood cabinets, is to select an RTF door that closely matches or contrasts the color of the cabinet. RTF doors come in simulated woodgrain colors and there are many colors to select from. If you cannot find one that is a close enough match, you might consider using a contrasting woodgrain look which can result in a beautiful, two-tone effect. Or, you can go high-tech by selecting simulated, stainless steel RTF fronts for a striking, contemporary new look.
If your cabinets are frameless as opposed to framed, there are more choices available because you don’t have to worry about a close match as the front of the cabinet is covered by the new door. You can check to see if your cabinets are frameless by opening a door and looking at the face of the cabinet. If it is 5/8” or ¾” wide, chances are it is a frameless cabinet.
All of these alternatives are dependent on the condition of your cabinet boxes. If they are in good shape, usually in only a day or two, you can once again have a beautiful kitchen, at a fraction of the cost of new cabinets or a complete refacing job. So, if you’re looking to get more for less, consider replacing your cabinet fronts. And, as Edward G. Robinson would say, “Yeah!”

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