Pricing for Refacing Versus Replacement for a Vanity

If refacing isn't cheaper than replacement, it might still have advantages for the customer that make it a sellable option. January 25, 2013

Would anyone here be willing to share what they might price a bathroom vanity? 104" long, 30.5" high, no end panels (butts against walls), 24" deep with melamine interiors for, installed. 10 drawers, 1 false front, 4 doors, face frame construction. (Just ballpark, no specifics.)

I just looked at refacing one that size, nothing fancy, square maple shaker doors, veneering face frames, changing hinges (8), replacing gross drawer boxes and finishing in clear, and my cost was over 1000 (before any labor). The job is pretty simple and straightforward, but to make a buck I need to bid this at 1600 minimum, which sounds - even to me - like a lot of money for what it is.

I have never really explored what bathroom cabinets cost (custom) and my only reference is to those import pieces of junk that the orange store sells for $399 or whatever. So are these types of cabinets expensive or what? Because if they're cheaper new than I can reface them for, there doesn't seem to be much point in bidding projects like this.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor J:
Ballpark 1750 in frameless and would probably lose it to most in my area over price, but don't care anymore.

3/4" particleboard confirmat screwed (I just can't deal with the 5/8"+ China ply (wavy in 9 directions) or 1/2" okume ply (stinks) that most pass off as all wood). Melamine would push it to 2k. I'll warranty it if properly finished and plumber isn't legally drunk when he sets the fixtures.

1/2" dovetailed Baltic birch drawers
full extension sidemount guides
Salice 110 hinges
RP doors red oak, ash, alder or PG

delivered and installed, scribed to walls, local 20mi +-

From the original questioner:
Thank you. Sounds like these things can be built for barely more than it costs to reface them. Might pass on bidding on these from now on. Just curious - is that price finished or unfinished?

From contributor J:
Unfinished, though I do finish about 50% of what leaves here.

From contributor A:
When you look at it this way, you're never gonna win. Re-facing is almost never cheaper than a new cabinet, especially like specs vs. like specs. Factory labor and efficiency is always better than on a job site. What you are selling is expediency. You can do it in a day, this week or next! Even in today's climate, shops have at least a four week lead time and it's usually longer. They are also going to have to schedule demolition and a plumber and usually an electrician. Two trips each plus a permit in many places. Then there is the "oops, we've gotta fix that" that always presents itself after demo.

From contributor M:
$1,850 - RP doors, finished (stained, with CV) and installed. Frameless, 3/4 white melamine, Grass Zargen drawers, alder. Other shops in my area would gladly do the work for half that. Like contributor J, I don't care. In fact, I take pleasure in giving people directions to the low ball shops when they gloriously walk in asking for cheap cabinets. Of course, not the same as people wanting to find out if we can meet their budget.

From contributor E:
It's going to depend a lot on what market you're in. Specifics make all the difference, but I wouldn't touch that for less than $2k. If it's something like stain grade cherry with raised panels and such, double that.

In this market people have the money, though they're not as quick to part with it as, say, 3-4 years ago. I have pretty much the same attitude as the others, though. This is what I charge; if I'm not going to make money on it, I might as well go fishing instead.

From contributor B:
These prices seem very low to me - it's difficult to see where anybody's making profit or covering overhead in this range. The idea that there are shops that are significantly undercutting beneath this level is terrifying. I can understand pricing work at labor and materials in a tough economy to keep the doors open - been there, done that - but there comes a point where it just doesn't make sense. During the trough of '08-'09, I lost a job to somebody whose price was almost exactly what I'd figured for doors, drawers, materials, and hardware. Have no idea if or how the job was completed.

Would one of you +/- $2k guys like to share your breakdown on this? What are you using for a per-hour figure on labor? I don't mean to cast aspersions on anybody who has posted, but feel like we're all paying about the same for materials, and at least ballpark-similar on labor and overhead costs, and I just can't see how it adds up.

From contributor O:
Our standard pricing for a frameless cabinet, not taking into account any unkowns:
$2090 for the cabinetry
$296 for stain and conversion varnish finish
$418 for installation

From contributor B:
Contributor O, your prices sound more in line with mine. I'm curious about your installation figure - how do you provide, fuel, and mobilize a truck and (I'm assuming, due to the size of this case) a couple of installers, load, drive to and from the site, set up, install, and clean up for $418 and make a profit? I'd like to think of this as a half-day installation, and I'm nearly always wrong. Single-cabinet installations are invariably money-losers for me - they suck up all the allotted time and then some. Case in point - my installation this morning of a couple of drawers, a pullout, and swapping out a lavy's worth of drawer faces/doors burned nearly four hours, including minimal drive-time, and I can't point to a major problem or issue that could justify the time - on the bench, this is an hour's work, tops. I'm embarrassed to mention the dollars I quoted for this fiasco!

From the original questioner:
Providing some valuable info here guys! Keep it coming! Contributor O, your finishing prices are surprisingly low - how do you accomplish that? High volume?

When I looked at the materials for this project (refacing, and I do my own finishing), I was looking at a gallon of Krystal sealer (about $50), a gallon of Envirovar ($54), solvent and catalyst ($20 +/-), and stain (which I excluded from the price and offered a clear finish only to meet budget) was an additional $75. That's $124 before I pick up a piece of sandpaper. I figured 6 hours for finishing and my rate is $62/hr (which, to me, is taking it in the shorts, but this economy sucks). Install - I figured in and out within 4 hours.

Price for doors - $480 +/- (~20sf)
Price for maple sheet veneers $65 +/-
Price for new boxes - $300 +/-
Hardware around $50.
I'm in Canada, though, and everything here costs ten times as much as it does in the US.

From contributor U:
I think a lot of the price difference depends on where you are. Cabinet Maker magazine does a thing where they get shops to price the same job, and I'm always amazed at how much difference they are in the pricing. A low price of 7k and a high price of 35k? Overhead has a lot to do with it also. The guy pricing the same job for less might be making more money.

From contributor C:
3/4 prefin maple/frameless edge and match to face
Simple 5 piece doors and drawers in maple
5/8" dovetailed drawer boxes clear coated with Blum Tandems
Blum soft close hinges
No pulls or labor to install
Finish in CV or pre cat lacquer clear
No subtop
Installed with scribed to fit fillers
San Francisco, CA

From contributor S:
In reading the earliest posts I was having heart palpitations looking at the pricing. I can't imagine completing much of anything for that kind of jingle. 10 dovetail drawers with Blum soft close undermounts? For me that alone would be half the cost that was initially quoted. I am a one man operation in NJ and years ago, I calculated a shop rate. I was in the $70 dollar range. I have been told by some of my industry friends that I was both too high and too low. Anybody here in the Northeast care to share shop rates?

From contributor R:
I'm here in the Midwest and I would be right in that range depending on species - between $2000-2500.