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Part of my business is remodeling old cabinets to look like new cabinets. It's the part I wish I didn't have to do. The process requires removing old doors and hinges, re-laminating the face and edges with new material (that's where the name relam comes from) and installing new doors.
For years, I've seen reviews in the newspaper home section that you can do a kitchen relam for a fraction of the price for new cabinets. Very deceiving as the estimates I've been working with are nearly 80% of the cost of new cabinets. I suppose it's a fraction, but not the fraction people are expecting.

This type of work is very labor intensive for the installer, lots of detail for the salesman who is usually the person taking measurements of the existing doors and ordering all new ones.
Door size, hand of swing, location of hinge holes. All these details are critical.

Usually the main reason for doing a relam is to keep the existing countertop and backsplash. If I can get around it I'll sell new upper cabinets and only relam the base cabinets. That make for less work on the installer and less custom parts to order.

Last week I saw a client to measure for a relam. He wanted to know a 'ball park' price for the work. I counted doors, panels & miscellaneous parts and guesstimated a range of $18,000 to $20,000. He queried me and I said, approximate, don't hold me to it until I actually work out the materials and labor.
He came in yesterday and I was at $19,000 with a basic 'shaker style' door and he selected a raised panel door bringing the price to $21,000. He will make a decision over the weekend. Actually, there is a third option... have a finisher come and paint the entire kitchen. While that's out of my scope, I'd be okay if he goes though way.

Some of my clients ask why I dislike doing relams and my response is like asking your dentist to crown and cap a mouth full of rotten teeth. Are you sure you want a relam?

Comments (2)

OK. I know absolutely nothing about this business.
But, here's an innovative idea, that you might embrace, or laugh hysterically at. laugh

Instead of doing all that refinishing work, imagine one piece per cabinet section, that fits completely
over the old area and has the doors and hinges attached to that front.
It's made from the measurements you take of the originals.
Once made, it would probably only take 15 minutes to install.
Jim, that is a great idea and were doing that in 1978.
The company I worked for had all the machinery to cut and assemble 'sticks' to make a face frame, hang doors and attach to boxes.
I don't know of any company willing to do that now.

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