This video shows you how you can update a kitchen by refacing your own cabinets. It can save you money but if you are picky this may not be the best option for you.
Refacing kitchen cabinets has been around for quite a while now. It is a cheaper option to a complete remodel. It basically consists like you saw of covering the outsides of the existing cabinets and installing new doors. There are different options and finishes. Plastic laminates, wood veneers and rigid thermofoils (RTF) are used. Unless it is wood veneer in my opinion it does not have that classic rich look to it. If you are looking at the cabinets from about 10 feet, it is hard for the average person to tell if it is veneer or real wood. Refacing with wood will cost about 15% more than laminates or thermofoils.
Refacing works if you are happy with the layout and just need to update a kitchen. If your walls need insulating, floors need redoing and you need to upgrade your wiring, it may not pay to reface. Make sure you are not allergic to the glues used. Remember that a lot of refacing companies also make new cabinets and can add things like lazy Susan’s, tilt out for sponges, roll out drawers and spice racks.
In this industry the workmanship varies widely. You will see jobs where the laminates are coming off and also you will see unfinished ends of wood. It is best to go with a well established company. The best companies that come to mind are Kitchen Magic in New Jersey where I once worked and Sears. Always check if the jobs are subcontracted out that the crew you get have enough experience.
In closing, when you decide to update a kitchen you can reface, refinish (I did not go in to that here but it involves sanding your existing cabinets and applying a new finish) or replace. If you can afford to replace in my opinion this is the best option. If your kitchen is new and you just want to change the color of the cabinets then that would be different.