reface or replace kitchen cabinets

Should You Replace or Reface the Kitchen Cabinets in Your Hamptons/East End Home?

When it comes to updating your kitchen cabinets, the two main options are usually replacing or re-facing. Here’s what we mean when we use those terms: 


This is pretty much what it sounds like – replacing the entirety of your kitchen cabinets – drawers, doors, and frame boxes. It can make more sense to do a full cabinet replacement while you’re undertaking a full kitchen remodel, and the biggest benefit may be the amount of disruption of your life over time – one inconvenience versus many. 


This refers to changing only the door and drawer fronts of your kitchen cabinets, as the main part of refacing cabinets involves replacing cabinet doors and drawer fronts. The cabinet’s frames (the boxes containing your cabinets) are left intact. 

Now let’s look at some of the more popular options available and go over some basic kitchen cabinet vocabulary. 

Face Frame vs. Frameless 

Frameless cabinets have door hinges and drawer runners that attach directly to the inside walls of the cabinet box. Framed cabinets have a frame on the inside of the cabinet box. 

Rails & Styles

Rails are the horizontal parts of the wood that sit atop the door and drawer fronts, and styles refer to vertical parts down each side of a cabinet door. 

reface or replace kitchen cabinetsFronts – this refers to the forward facing part of the cabinets and drawers 

Cope & Rail Doors

This means that the door is made up of styles and rails. In some places this is also called frame and panel or cope panel or cope and style or even raised and flat panel construction. In our experience this is one of the most basic and common door/drawer fronts out there. It works like this – a large panel fits into a continuous groove in the edge of the style and rail parts, and the corners are straight. Those parts fit with matching routed profiles and are then glued and pin-nailed together. 

reface or replace kitchen cabinets

Mitered Doors

The corners of the mitered door or drawer front are set at a 45-degree angle (kind of like you find on most picture frames), and they are usually locked together with some type of spine or joint. It’s key to pick out a good quality mitered door and drawer front, ideally one where the joints are strongly joined both precisely and smoothly. 

Slab Doors

This differs from other door/drawer options in that it does not have separate styles or rails – it’s just one solid piece of wood. While they are often made of traditional hardwood (oak, pine, etc.), you can also find them made from Medium Density Fiber Board (MDF). MDF can be good to use because it is more dimensionally stable, meaning that it won’t warp in the high humidity. 


Most doors have 2 styles, 2 rails and a panel, so in addition to choosing material and joinery style, you can also get different types of panels for your new kitchen cabinet doors. 

reface or replace kitchen cabinets

Raised panel – the center is raised compared to the wood immediately around it, and often this kind has a recessed border around it. 

Recessed (or inset) panel – this lacks the ornamentation of a raised panel and tends to look sleeker. 


Something to consider when replacing your cabinet door and drawers are the hinges, and there are more than a few types of hinges to choose from. In our experience, these are some of the more popular options. 

Soft-close & Non-soft Close Hinges

Soft close – These hinges are quiet compared to their counterparts. They have a mechanism that controls the closing of the cabinet door in the last few inches before it shuts. Also referred to as buffers or shock absorbers, they are a way to eliminate door slamming. (Most hinges tend to be soft close these days.)

Non-soft close – These hinges don’t have that same mechanism to slow down the door’s closing and prevent slamming. Not as quiet. 

Hidden Hinges/European Style Hinges

These are attached on the inside of the cabinet door, allowing them to stay out of sight. 

European style hinges have a mounting plate that secures to the cabinet and a cup that is attached to the back of the door. A benefit of this kind of hinge is that they can offer adjustment in two or even three directions. 

reface or replace kitchen cabinets

Semi-hidden Hinges

These are hinges where part of the hinge mechanism is visible when the cabinet is shut and part is hidden. 

Self-closing Hinges

This usually refers to hinges, that are spring-loaded, or have a hydraulic mechanism, and allow the door to close on its own by using its own weight. The biggest downside is that if they wear down or break you can’t really open the cabinet door until you get them fixed. 

Decorative Hinges

Usually refers to a decorative hinge that is functional and also happens to be decorative.  However, this can also refer to a hinge that is not functional but merely decorative (in which case there will be a hidden hinge on the inside of the door so it can open and close normally). 

Face Frame Hinges

This is a kind of hidden hinge and is designed to allow for movement on cabinet doors that sit in front of the face frame. 

reface or replace kitchen cabinets

Inset Hinges

One side of the hinge is narrower than the other. The narrow side attaches to the door and the wider side to the interior of the cabinet door, and only the narrow side can be seen when it’s closed. 

reface or replace kitchen cabinets

Butt Hinges

This is a very common type, and has two hinges that sort of fan out, so you may see the joint or at least part of it when the cabinet is closed. 

 reface or replace kitchen cabinets

Flush Hinges

Similar to a butt hinge in that it attaches to the inside of the door and frame, and when it closes the smaller part of the hinge rests inside the larger part. These are good for someone looking for a more compact solution. 

reface or replace kitchen cabinets

We realize that so many options can seem overwhelming, but that’s why we’re here to help you make the best decisions for your kitchen. 

Contact FD Building Co. at (631) 779-2859 or send us a message to discuss how we give you the kitchen you’ve always wanted.