How Much Will It Cost to Refinish Cabinets?

Typical Range:

$1,797 - $4,106

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 3,553 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated April 21, 2022

Reviewed by Robert Tschudi, Expert Home Building and Remodeling Contributor.

Written by HomeAdvisor.
The cost to refinish cabinets averages $4 to $25 per square foot

Refinishing a set of cabinets costs $2,950 on average, with a median range from $1,797 and $4,106, which is far less costly than the price to install brand-new cabinets. You’ll pay between $4 to $25 per square foot, which includes labor and materials for staining, lacquering, varnishing, painting, shellacking, or glazing. The overall price depends on a number of factors, including the type of refinishing you choose and the cabinet’s location within your home.

Refinishing cabinetry changes the whole look and feel of your space, making it a crucial part of many renovation projects. Refinishing involves removing paint or stain, sanding, making necessary repairs, and applying a new coat of paint, stain, or varnish. Hire a local cabinet professional for best results. 

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National Average $2,950
Typical Range $1,797 - $4,106
Low End - High End $700 - $6,500

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 3,553 HomeAdvisor members.

Cabinet Refinishing Cost Factors 

Many pros charge per project for cabinet refinishing, which averages $2,700, but this price fluctuates depending on various factors. Pricing changes slightly by the finish type, complexity of design, and the number of cabinets. Refinishing allows color changes to match your new design. It also makes old worn surfaces with scuffs, scratches, and old paint look brand new.

6 cost factors for refinishing cabinets, including type of finish, size, and custom work involved
Photo: Serghei Starus / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Finishing Type

All refinishing projects start the same, with the removal of old paint or stain and some sanding to get down to the bare wood. Beyond that, however, your choice in finish type impacts your overall cost.  

  • Staining: This is a great way to redo the look of real wood and the necessary materials are affordable at around $100 to $200 per project or $4 to $8 per square foot. Staining only works with solid wood. If you have veneers, go for another type of finish. Choose a darker color than the original coat for best results. 

  • Painting: Materials here are still affordable, running $200 to $300 per project or $6 to $14 per square foot. Make sure your pro chooses paints specifically made for kitchens to minimize premature chipping. 

  • Glazing: This is a semi-transparent coating that goes on after paint, giving the wood an antique or retro look. Souring materials for a glazing project requires both paint and glaze, coming in at $300 to $1,000 per project or $10 to $25 per square foot. Glazing typically alters the color of the wood, so carefully choose the correct glaze for your cabinets. 

  • Varnishing: Varnishing comes in several different types, such as polyurethane varnish and conversion varnish, and is chosen by homeowners who want to retain the wood cabinets to keep their natural look. Contractors use varnish in lieu of stain or paint and materials cost $200 to $400 per project or $6 to $16 per square foot.  

  • Shellacking: Shellac does a great job at both sealing the wood and creating a warm and natural semi-transparent finish. Materials here cost $200 to $400 per project or $6 to $16 per square foot

Size and Location

Refinishing your cabinets is crucial when remodeling a kitchen, as it represents a good chunk (about 30%) of the total kitchen remodeling cost of $13,500 to $38,000. Kitchens are not the only part of your home with cabinets, however, as bathroom and office cabinets also need regular maintenance. As such, the location and overall size of the project impact the price, as seen below.  

  • Kitchen Cabinets: Kitchen cabinets are the largest by size and the most common cabinet refinishing job, due to the moisture and heat a kitchen creates. An average kitchen requires 150 square feet of materials and labor, costing $1,500 to $5,000 per project

  • Bathroom Cabinets: The bathroom is another prime source of moisture and heat, leading to fairly common refinishing jobs. Bathrooms, though, are much smaller than kitchens, so you’ll pay $200 to $2,000 per project

  • Office Cabinets: Home offices are typically medium-sized and don’t come into contact with moisture or heat, minimizing refinishing needs. For an office cabinet refinish, you’ll pay $500 to $2,000 per project

Labor

When gathering price options, you’ll run into estimates for the completed project and others that take materials and an hourly rate into account. Cabinet refinishing laborers charge around $55 per hour, though this cost fluctuates according to their experience level and the complexity of the job. 

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Additional Cost Factors

There are some external and added cost factors worth considering when sourcing out estimates for a job. 

Preparation and Repair

Wood cabinets need significant prep before applying any refinishing materials. A pro wraps up much of this prep work into the overall project cost, including removing old paint, repairing splits, patching up holes, sanding surfaces, and fixing minor breaks. Without adequate preparation, the new finish struggles to adhere evenly and smoothly to the old surface. 

In some cases, however, you’ll need significant repairs before beginning the finishing process. Repairing a set of cabinets costs an average of $300 and generally isn’t included in the total project cost. Consider going with a new installation if your cabinets require massive amounts of repair. 

Refacing 

If your wood requires a whole lot of work to get it shipshape, some pros recommend refacing as an alternative to refinishing. Refacing keeps the overall structure of your cabinets, but replaces drawers, door fronts, knobs, and other aesthetic flourishes, in addition to placing veneers over the wood. Refacing your cabinets costs $4,000 to $9,500, about three to four times the cost of refinishing. 

Custom Work

If you have the budget, there are plenty of custom refinishing options for your cabinets. Pros regularly turn cabinets into works of art, with ornate carvings and unique types of finishing materials. These complex and custom jobs take more time, expertise, and work, so you’ll pay extra. These extra costs vary, with most expensive jobs clocking in at $5,000. 

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional Cabinet Refinisher

Refinishing is a good DIY project if you have the time, tools, experience, patience, and space to do it correctly. You’ll need a space like a large garage or backyard, if the weather allows, to strip and refinish the various pieces of the cabinet. 

This is a time-intensive project, taking anywhere from three to five full days of work, or 30 to 50 hours. For the DIYer, that translates into roughly two weeks of after-hours work, and remember, you won’t have a functioning kitchen during this time frame. In other words, you’ll save money but lose time, as pros take just one to three days to finish most projects.

FAQs About Cabinet Refinishing

How do you choose the best cabinet refinishing expert? 

There are a lot of contractors out there adept at refinishing cabinets, so choosing is overwhelming at times. Contact a cabinet refinishing pro to discuss pricing options, the size of your cabinets, their overall condition, and anything else relevant to the project. Finally, ask for contact information on previous clients and reach out to them to discuss their experiences. 

What questions should I ask my pro about cabinet refinishing?

Beyond pricing, availability, and job size, there are many relevant questions to ask any potential cabinet contractor.

  • Is your work guaranteed? 

  • Do you perform custom work? 

  • Can you produce any custom colors?

  • Do you have samples of your work? 

  • Can you match the finish to other cabinets throughout my home?

  • How long will the project take?

How do you care for refinished cabinets? 

Practice these maintenance tips to keep your newly refinished cabinets looking great. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or chemicals, as they strip away the refinishing agent over time. 

Use a gentle cleaning solution, like two parts warm water and one part dish soap. Avoid spraying any cleaning solution directly onto the cabinets. Spray a small amount onto a microfiber cloth instead, and wipe down the cabinets slowly and carefully. Limit the amount of heat and moisture that comes in contact with the cabinets. 

For kitchen cabinets, for instance, don’t use a rice cooker directly below your cabinets, as steam warps wood, and don’t hang wet dish towels directly over cabinet doors.

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