To replace or not to replace: that is the question. Most everyone has doors on their cabinets, and we all know they wear out over time. But determining when and why they’re “past their prime” isn’t always easy, mostly because you look at your doors every day and can’t see them changing for the worst. As a result, some people have doors on their cabinets that are long past the point of replacement and are making their kitchen less attractive and functional as a result. On the other end of the spectrum, some people conclude their doors are worn out prematurely and spend money on replacements before it’s necessary. You want to avoid both outcomes. Consult this guide before you decide when to replace cabinet doors.
What’s the average lifespan of cabinet doors?
That question is trickier than it seems. First, we need to differentiate between cabinet bases and cabinet doors. In a perfect world your Cabinets can last a lifetime, depending on the quality of materials used, how they were built, and how you take care of them. The cabinet bases do see a lot less use and abuse than the doors, which are more likely to be exposed to moisture, various angles of sunlight, touched constantly, and slammed shut regularly. Because of that, doors can wear out a lot faster than the cabinets they are attached to. You can also debate the definition of “worn out.” Some people are fine using cabinet doors until they literally fall off the cabinets, while others will seek out replacements due to minor blemishes.
In general, cabinet doors can begin to show visible signs of wear and tear a little quicker than the bases. Older kitchens may start to experience performance issues because of old hinges. Most importantly, interior design styles are constantly changing. For a lot of people, the motivation to replace cabinet doors is to swap out something from a different design era with something updated and on trend. Regardless of their condition, older doors tend to age everything around them, making your kitchen look out of style even if the appliances or countertops are newer. Deciding when to replace cabinet doors often comes down to when you feel like you need a change.
Signs you need to replace cabinet doors
We want to emphasize that it’s entirely up to you to decide when to replace cabinet doors. Replacements are relatively affordable, and hanging them yourself is an accessible DIY project, so you can change your doors as often (or as infrequently) as you would like. That being said, it’s helpful to watch for signs that your current doors are wearing down:
- Visible damage – Over the years, cabinet doors can be subjected to a lot of abuse if not properly cared for. Some damages are minor, and can be erased with a good cleaning or a refinishing. But some things like deep dents, cracked or broken frames or panels can be hard to cover up. If there’s any tell-tale damage, it’s probably past time to replace your cabinet doors.
- Poor performance – After opening and closing a couple thousand times, hinges, can start to wear out and make shutting doors more annoying than it should be. The same things can happen after the relentless cycle of the seasons has caused the doors to swell in the humidity and shrink in the cold. Cabinet doors that don’t perform perfectly may be a minor hassle, but they’re also an indicator that your doors are getting older and likely in need of an update.
- Dated styles – Some styles are classic, but many more look incredibly dated after they’ve had their moment in the sun. The simple fact is that ugly cabinet doors can drag down an entire kitchen. Regardless of whether they’re old or simply a style you don’t like, you won’t be happy with the doors or the space as a whole until you have something different serving as the face of your cabinetry.
- Changing lifestyles – Maybe you’re fine with the condition and style of your current doors but you still want something better suited to your tastes and needs. For instance, you want to swap out your solid doors with glass-fronted options to show off your fine china. Or you have young children and want to install soft-close hinges that keep the doors from slamming shut. If your doors don’t match your lifestyle for any reason, replacing them can help you fix everything.
Reface vs replace
Instead of replacing your cabinet doors, you could reface them — meaning you strip them down to the bare wood and then stain or paint them whatever color you like. You save a lot of money with refacing because you only have to pay for materials, and you can make a big improvement with just a fresh coat of paint. However, you can’t fix structural damage to the doors or hinges with refacing, and those issues will only continue to get worse. You also can’t transform the actual style of the doors – the lines, angles, details, and designs – which could leave you with doors that look fresh but still dated. Finally, even though you spend less money on refacing, you typically spend a lot more time and elbow grease doing things like stripping the finish off the doors. Refacing always deserves consideration, but for many people, replacing cabinet doors makes more sense.
The Door Stop – making replacement easy and exciting
When you’re ready to order replacement doors, start by browsing our extensive selection of replacement cabinet door styles, each one custom-built to match the size of your existing doors and perfectly fit the cabinets underneath. We make it as easy as possible to find and order the doors you need, and as exciting as possible to start upgrading your kitchen (or bath, office, rec room, etc.). Browse this guide to learn how to order!