Should You Use Existing Cabinetry in a Kitchen Remodel?

Thinking about giving your kitchen a much-needed facelift? In a perfect world, you’d redesign the entire kitchen with a whole remodel to achieve the beauty and function you envision. Sometimes, however, that’s out of reach. A partial remodel can freshen things up enough to meet your needs while costing much less.

Partially remodeling a kitchen might mean keeping the existing cabinetry while updating with new countertops, a sink, faucet and appliances. Replacing kitchen countertops has become very popular with homeowners in recent years. A partial remodel might also include under-cabinet lighting, tile backsplash or adding a new kitchen island. It’s often a win-win for the consumer, who gets a new look for the kitchen while spending less than a full kitchen remodel costs.

Customers who’ve worked with someone else on a partial remodel that includes countertop replacement may decide later they’re not really crazy about their existing cabinetry. It could be the door style, the finish, the function or the layout. Whatever the reason, replacing existing cabinetry following a partial kitchen remodel presents a few challenges.

Before making the decision to keep existing cabinets or replace them, I would advise asking a professional to assess whether the cabinets contain the right bones or foundation upon which to build a partial remodel. Kitchen cabinets can last 50 years, but if they’re showing damage or don’t function properly, it may be time to bite the bullet and replace them.

Here are a few things to look for when deciding whether to keep existing kitchen cabinetry:
– Evidence of water damage. This may include warped wood, bubbling on the inside or outside, delamination on the outside, blackened or mold spots,or cabinets that don’t open or close properly.
– Cabinets function improperly. The drawers stick, the cabinet doors open wrong, or the items stored inside are too hard to access.
– Soft spots. Push on the sides of the cabinets to detect any soft spots. This signals heavy damage and wood unsuitable to build upon.
– Cabinet box is in bad shape. This means the wood is too worn to drill new holes or mount new hinges.
– Floor settling. This major structural issue leaves cabinets out of kilter.
– Metal cabinets. If they are rusting, they need to be replaced.

For a large majority of homeowners, a partial remodel makes sense. Just make sure the cabinetry you plan to keep is structurally sound and functional. If not, perhaps the wisest investment translates to a full kitchen remodel to serve the homeowner for years to come. Hire a professional to adequately evaluate kitchen cabinetry on the front side of the project so you can feel confident in your decision.