Evaluating Kitchen Cabinet Refacing Bids

I'm getting bids for kitchen cabinet refacing. So far they range from $13,000 at Home Depot (U.S. Remodelers) to $8,500 and $6,500 with two local specialists. The local ones use 1/4" and 1/8" refacing materials respectively otherwise they seem about the same. Obviously Home Depot is out of the running. Any tips on evaluating the other two; Mr.Cabinet Care and Reborn Cabinets (both in Orange County, CA)
Thanks
Dave
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Dave Combs wrote:

References and work samples is only suggestion I have...
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I had mine done about 8 years ago -- also in S. Cal. . At that time I paid probably $5000 and we have a small kitchen. The $6K-$8K sounds right. I would not do HD -- overpriced.
Know this going in. Refacing is not difficult and not rocket science. Cabinet sides are refaced using a veneered 1/8 to 3/16" plywood and the face frames are faced using a peel and stick veneer. Doors and drawers are outsouced by your contractor to vendors that do nothing but and a typical maple/oak door is probably in the $20 - $30 range if you were to buy it yourself.
Our contractor did the refacing and new doors / drawers (maple) without refinishing. Since the contractor knew very little about finishing, we had another guy come in a spray lacquer a fruitwood toned finish. Just after applying the finish, the peel and stick veneer started coming up. I called the refacing contractor and loudly complained. The owner came out and said the installers failed to apply a layer of contact cement on the face frames before applying the veneer. They came out and replaced all of the reface and paid my finisher to do another finishing job. BTW, the "installers" were nothing but young kids (18-19 yo)-- installing is not a fine workmanship skill at all.
My only regret is that I did not do it myself. You can buy peel and stick veneer (about $59 for a 96"x24" sheet in which 2 probably would cover a standard kitchen), hardwood 1/8" ply (about $80 for 4x8 sheet), and door and drawers (about $30 each). Add this up with misc hardware and it is much cheaper.
Subsequently, I refaced my bathroom vanities myself using cherry veneer and plywood. I happened to build my own doors and drawers because I wanted too but could have easily (and probably cheaper) ordered doors and drawers off of the internet or several local suppliers that are available. I used the typical Blum euro hinges. Finished using a sealer coat of shellac, followed by a wipe on gel stain and 3 coats of wipe on varnish/oil. Looks fantastic. Wish my kitchen looked as good.
If interested, I would check out www.rockler.com and look for refacing and the made to order door and drawer service the offer. Look for a book called "Refacing Kitchen Cabinets" that takes you step by step through the process. No special tools are required. May need a little jig that Rocker sells to drill the holes for the euro hinges.
Other than that. I would quiz your potential contractor on how he prepares the casing for refacing.
1. Does he fill and smooth the face frames including filling voids and holes with bondo or something equivalent?
2. Does he use a bonding agent to attach the peel and stick veneer to the face frames? Make sure he uses a water based adheasive that will not affect the peel and stick adheasive.
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I agree with Jerry completely: do it yourself. My quote from Home Depot was 19,000 for refacing. I tried it myself in the laundry room and it came out fantastic, so I'm doing the kitchen. (Home Depot won't do laundry rooms probably because of the moisture and veneer lifting, which can of course be done correctly, as Jerry says below. Cost for my kitchen and laundry room: $3600. Plus a few weekends.
Finishing the interior of the cabinets should also be considered. It looks really funny to open a natural maple door and see dark oak cabinets behind. I went to Kelly Moore, had them match the veneer color, and primed and painted the inside of the cabs. It looks fantastic. I doubt your contractor will do that for you, and besides you have to store all your kitchen stuff for the entire process.
Rock

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Well gang, here are the results of my search. Reborn Doors won with a bid ~$6,500. Mr. Cabinet Care initially came in at $9,000 but when I suggested I could get all the materials over the internet at ~$3,000 and that I thought $6,000 was a lot for labor, overhead and profit the bid was lowered to ~$7,000 on the basis that he had accidently included a cabinet preparation charge. Home Depot came in at $12,000 and Sears at $15,000 (and Sears doesn't even use real wood, all laminates and thermo formed doors/drawer fronts).
Frankly, even had Mr. Cabinet Care matched the low bid, I would not have selected them because I felt they perhaps were trying to pull a fast one. Errors do happen but not $2,000 errors.
Dave
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I would also look into new cabinets.

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