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As the fall season sets in and the weather gets colder, it's just another reason to spend more time in the kitchen cooking up warming soups and maybe some hot cider. But no matter which season, kitchens and great rooms tend to be very popular for homeowners and, of course, buyers.

For this reason, it's important to make sure your cabinets are looking good--not laden with holes from chipped or worn off paint or stain. Kitchen cabinets often take a beating from all the opening and closing of the doors and drawers; however getting them looking good again can seem like an overwhelming project.

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, "The variables that affect the cost of kitchen cabinets relate to quality, appearance, and functional effectiveness."

So, if you're really sprucing them up and using high-end handles, adding more shelving inside them, the costs will rise. But what if the insides of your cabinets aren't really in poor condition? Maybe the hinges and the hardware are still in good shape, it's just the outside that could use a makeover.

That's when giving your cabinets a new face might be your best option. Stripping the cabinets and painting or refacing them can add a lot of value to the overall appeal of the home without incurring the bigger expense of replacing your cabinets.

The NKBA says that, "This will cost about half of what you would spend for comparable new kitchen cabinets, but such a strategy will only work if the basic room configuration and cabinet placement in your existing kitchen are to remain the same." However, if your cabinets are sagging or you need a new configuration for more space, for instance, this option won't work. But, again, if your cabinets simply need a new face, this can be a good solution especially when you're listing your home for sale. The investment isn't nearly as high as replacing them.

There are a few steps involved in refacing: remove/prep the veneer, strip the surface, fill in missing chips, clean cabinets, apply new veneer and trim, prep veneer, and finally stain and finish. Some homeowners decide to do their own handyman work.

There are many articles on the step-by-step process, so this column won't focus on that but instead will let you know a few things that you should be aware of to ward off bigger problems. Actually, the first is an issue I had when refacing my kitchen cabinets. (After one painter messed up the cabinets, I ended up having to hire a qualified professional to successfully finish the job.) What you should know before you start. Especially in tract homes, certain types of cabinets may have a protective layer (veneer) on top of the wood or pressed particle board. If you remove this layer you can end up with a big mess. While it often chips off over the years, and appears easy to remove, in fact you can peel it off with your finger tips, removing it completely will require the under material to be sanded and prepped so that the surface will allow paint to stick to it. But, removing it may also cause harm to the cabinets.

"Most kitchen cabinets are made with pre-veneered laminated wood (particle board in some cases) and the hardwood veneer is rolled onto the laminated wood with terrifically high pressure and in most case you would damage the wood underneath trying to remove the veneer," according to RefinishFurniture.com. The site indicates that the old veneer can be left on as a base. The old must be lightly sanded to remove the finish and then a new veneer can be added. RefinishFurniture.com also recommends marking all the cabinet doors before you remove them to strip them or prep them for paint or stain. It'll save you so much time and frustration when you go to put them back on.

Another word of advice. While many homeowners like the do-it-yourself projects, when you're selling your home, this kind of project can become tedious and too time consuming. Refacing your cabinets will help your home show better but the question is: Do you do-it-yourself or hire a company to do what they do best? Either way, newly painted or stained cabinets go along way when it comes time to sell your home.

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