Do-it-yourself: $135 for tools and paint supplies; $5 and up per knob
What you'd pay a pro: $1,200, refacing; $5,000, replacing
Skill level: 2/4
Time: 2 days"You'll make or break your sale in the kitchen," says Sid Davis, author of Home Makeovers That Sell. "It's the first room people head to when they look at a home, and if it doesn't meet their expectations, forget it."
DO THIS IF... You're selling soon. You won't recoup the cost of fully replacing shabby cabinets with new ones (that's $5,000 and up). Refacing them is harder and costly too ($1,000-plus). A coat of paint, on the other hand, can cheaply do a lot to spiff up what you have, even if it's a bit of a cosmetic fix. "Over the long run, it'll chip and wear," cautions contractor Berlin. But hey, that's someone else's problem.
PAYOFF "If buyers like your kitchen, they will go through the rest of the home," says Davis.
WHAT SELLS A HOUSE BEST Neutral colors like white or brown, suggests Berlin
YOU NEED Drill, bits, tarp, sandpaper, primer, oil-based or latex acrylic paint or stain, paintbrushes (avoid rollers because they can add unwanted texture) and knobs
THE BASIC JOB On the first day, you'll remove the cabinets, sand them and apply primer. Wake up the next morning and paint or stain. Add fresh hardware to make them look brand new.
WHERE TO FIND DIRECTIONS doityourself.com/stry/paintcabinets