Get the Best Value on Your Dream Kitchen Cabinets
Upgrading your kitchen with new cabinets can be one of the most exciting parts of remodeling your home. But between all the different materials, styles, and custom options, cabinetry is also one of the biggest expenses for any kitchen remodel.
The key is making sure you get the most value out of your investment. By understanding what impacts the costs of cabinets and learning how to shop smart, you can design the kitchen of your dreams while still sticking to your budget.
Cabinet Materials & Pricing
The materials your cabinets are constructed from play a major role in determining price. Here are some of the most common options and what you can expect to pay.
Wood Species & Grades
Solid wood cabinets allow for beautiful, natural-looking finishes but come at a higher cost. Oak, maple, hickory and cherry are some of the most common woods used. Within each wood species there are different grades that refer to the wood’s appearance. “Rustic” grades have more pronounced wood grains and knots, lowering costs. “Premium” grades have a more uniform appearance but cost more.
For example, lower-grade oak starts around $800 per linear foot while premium oak can cost $1,500 or beyond. Opt for a mid-range “standard” grade to balance aesthetics with affordability.
Laminates & Thermofoils
If budget is a major concern, laminate and thermofoil cabinets cost significantly less than wood. Laminate cabinets have a plastic coating over a composite wood substrate, typically ranging from $50-150 per linear foot.
Thermofoil cabinets fuse a thin plastic film to a medium density fiberboard core. Due to their durable surfaces, thermofoil cabinets start around $100-200 per linear foot. The tradeoff for both options is less resistance to damage over time versus solid wood.
Semi-Custom vs. Stock Manufacturing
Stock cabinets are pre-fabricated in standard sizes to save on costs. Semi-custom cabinets are built to order with some customization options like stains, door styles and organizational inserts. Expect to pay 25-60% more for the flexibility of semi-custom versus basic stock cabinetry when it comes to materials and construction.
Styles & Design Options
Beyond the cabinet foundation, design choices for doors, finishes and fittings also impact the final price tag.
Slab cabinet doors are the most affordable option, ranging from $100-200 per door. The simple design limits the look but keeps costs down. Shaker style doors with a four-sided frame cost a bit more at $150-300 per door but have versatile appeal. Inset panel doors with decorative recessed panels are the most expensive at $200-500+ per door.
Stains, Glazes & Finishes
How you finish wood cabinets also increases costs. Stains in standard hues add minimal cost. But popular glazed finishes require hand-brushing each door for a distressed patina, adding $50-100 per door. Painted and white-washed finishes also demand more labor and care to look flawless, increasing the price.
Optional upgrades like glass cabinet inserts ($75-200 each), ornate decorative hardware ($25-100 per knob and pull), integrated lighting ($50+ per foot), and storage inserts ($30-150 per drawer) enable you to put your personal stamp on the space. But these custom flourishes add up quickly, so choose statement upgrades selectively.
Getting Quotes & Estimates
To get accurate pricing, you’ll need to get in-person consultations for custom cabinet quotes. But you can also use online instant estimators to ballpark costs.
In-Person Design Consultations
A design professional can measure your kitchen, understand your needs, recommend cabinet solutions and provide the most accurate quote. Be sure to get quotes from at least three cabinet companies to compare pricing and service.
Online Instant Estimators
Many cabinet websites allow you to input your basic kitchen dimensions and receive an instant estimate. This is a quick way to establish an initial budget baseline. Just be aware that once you start customizing your cabinets, costs can increase beyond the estimator’s quotes depending on options selected.
Saving Money on Installation
Even if you invest in quality cabinetry, installation costs can also deter bargain hunters. Use these tips to reduce installation fees.
Hiring Independent Installers
Rather than paying the cabinet company’s marked up installation fees, you can often hire independent carpenters at $50-75 per hour for basic cabinet installs. Just be sure to vet installers thoroughly based on reviews and proven expertise with cabinetry.
If you have some carpentry skills, DIY cabinet installation is certainly cheaper. But be prepared to watch many YouTube tutorials. Securing cabinets level and plumb is trickier than it looks. DIY is doable, but will involve a learning curve for most.
Staggering Other Remodels
If you’re planning a countertop replacement soon, negotiate with your cabinet installer to mount boxes and doors during initial cabinet install, but leave final adjustments of cabinet faces and drawer fronts until after countertops go in. This prevents rescheduling installers and saves you money.
The key is focusing on overall value, not just initial price. Consider how cabinet materials, manufacturing quality, aesthetics and organization features will impact your enjoyment of the space for years to come. Invest in timeless looks from reputable brands, rather than cutting corners that could leave you dissatisfied down the road.
By understanding the factors that influence cost and using insider tips to maximize your budget, you can customize your perfect kitchen while still getting the best returns on your investment.