Uncovering the Reasons Why Kitchen Cabinets Are So Expensive

When embarking on a kitchen remodel, one of the most crucial aspects to consider is the kitchen cabinets. They not only play a significant role in the overall design and aesthetics of your space, but also greatly impact the functionality and organization of your kitchen. With so many options available, homeowners often find themselves asking: “Why kitchen cabinets are so expensive?” Well, fear not! In this blog post, we will uncover the reasons behind the cost of kitchen cabinets and provide you with valuable insights to make informed decisions during your remodeling journey.

From the choice of materials to the level of customization and design, labor and installation costs, as well as the size and quantity of cabinets needed, there are various factors that contribute to the overall cost of kitchen cabinets. By understanding these factors and the reasons why kitchen cabinets are so expensive, you can make better decisions to suit your budget and preferences, while still achieving your dream kitchen.

Short Summary

  • Materials, wood types, hardware choices and finishes/glazing all affect the cost of kitchen cabinets.
  • Customization offers personalized designs but comes at a higher cost than stock cabinets. Design complexity affects both aesthetics and budget.
  • DIY methods can help reduce costs while achieving quality results by researching material alternatives and simplifying design choices.

The Role of Materials

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The materials used in the construction of kitchen cabinets play a significant role in determining their cost. With a wide array of wood types, hardware selections, and finishes and glazing options available, the expense can vary substantially. High-quality materials not only provide a more durable and sophisticated design, but also tend to come with a heftier price tag. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between quality and affordability, as choosing durable materials can save you money in the long run by ensuring your cabinets stand the test of time.

To better comprehend the impact of materials on the cost of kitchen cabinets, let’s delve into the specifics of wood types, hardware choices, and finishes and glazing.

Wood Types

Wood is the most commonly used material for kitchen cabinets, with a variety of options such as solid wood, plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and veneer available in the market. The cost of fully personalized cabinets can range up to $1200 per linear foot, depending on the wood type employed. Pine, for instance, is at the lower end of the expense range, while cherry is generally at the higher end.

The durability ofdifferent wood types also plays a role in determining the cost. Stainless steel is the most enduring cabinet material, while high-grade wood materials may have a higher cost but could be less durable than lower-end materials.

Aesthetically, oak and maple offer a variety of colors and can be stained in multiple finishes, making them a cost-effective option. Melamine is a material that can produce attractive solid colors and has a smooth texture to the touch. It is also capable of producing “wood tone” finishes.

Hardware Choices

Hardware is another essential component that influences the cost of kitchen cabinets. Metal hardware, specialty pieces, and different finishes or patenas all contribute to the overall price. The finish of the hardware can have a significant impact, with silver hardware being the most economical option compared to brushed or plated hardware.

Kitchen cabinets can come with quite the hefty price tag. Specialty hardware can add to this cost. For example, soft closing doors or pop-up latches are examples of added features that can augment the price. Incorporating self-closing ability to kitchen cabinet hinges will also result in an increased cost.

Careful consideration of hardware choices can help in managing the overall expense of your kitchen cabinets without compromising on functionality and design.

Finishes and Glazing

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Finishes and glazing can have a considerable effect on the expense of kitchen cabinets. Certain finishes require more labor and could be more costly. Paint, for instance, uniformly covers all wood, provided that it is in line with your aesthetic. On the other hand, Danish oil can be employed to accentuate the natural grain of wood in kitchen cabinets.

It’s essential to carefully consider the finishing materials used in your kitchen cabinets, as they can greatly impact the overall look and feel of your space. Some common finishing materials include paint, Danish oil, and varnish. By understanding the different finishing options and their effects on both the aesthetics and cost of your kitchen cabinets, you can make an informed choice that suits your preferences and budget.

Customization and Design

A kitchen with custom cabinets and custom cabinetry

Customization and design can have a significant impact on the cost of kitchen cabinets. Custom cabinets offer the advantage of being crafted to suit your specific requirements in terms of design, color, material, and size. As a result, they tend to be more expensive than stock cabinets due to personalized design and increased labor for cutting and finishing materials. Design complexity and added features also contribute to the overall cost, making customization a crucial factor to consider when planning your kitchen remodel.

While custom-made cabinets are of superior quality and have a longer lifespan, they also come with a higher price tag. Understanding the differences between custom and stock cabinets, as well as the various factors that influence the cost, can help you make better decisions when choosing the right cabinets for your kitchen.

Custom vs. Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets are pre-manufactured and come in standard dimensions, making them readily available and accessible in fixed sizes, designs, and colors. These cabinets are often more affordable, with an expense of between $150 to $250 per linear foot. However, stock cabinets may not always be suitable for your allocated space, making it crucial to have a cabinet professional measure your kitchen to ensure an accurate fit.

On the other hand, custom cabinets are crafted to order and can be adapted to any space, giving you the freedom to specify any design, color, material, or size of your choice. This personalized approach comes at a higher cost, with custom cabinets priced at $300+ per linear foot. It’s essential to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option and consider your budget and kitchen space when deciding between semi custom cabinets, full custom cabinetry, and stock cabinets.

Design Complexity

The complexity of kitchen cabinets can vary depending on the materials employed, paint colors, and customization options. Varied grades of cabinets are available, including ready-to-assemble, stock, semi-custom, and custom, which offer diverse levels of quality and construction. When devising the arrangement of kitchen cabinets, it’s important to consider what would be logical to store close to the sink, the placement of pots and pans, and the appropriate spacing of shelves.

Due to the significant financial investment involved in kitchen cabinets, it’s essential to get the design right the first time. Ensuring that your cabinets are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing can greatly impact your overall satisfaction with your kitchen remodel.

Added Features

Added features can increase the cost of kitchen cabinets, with both the cost of the accessory and the cost of labor for installation needing to be taken into account. Examples of such features include lazy susans, roll or pull-out pantries, integrated cutting boards and step stools, pull-out trash brackets, built-in wine racks, and custom spice pantries. Additionally, features like self-closing doors or drawers ensure they never slam, but may come with a higher price tag.

When selecting added features for your kitchen cabinets, it’s essential to consider your specific needs and preferences, as well as your budget. While these features can enhance the functionality and aesthetics of your cabinets, it’s important to weigh the benefits against the added costs.

Labor and Installation Costs

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Labor and installation costs make up a large portion of the total cost of kitchen cabinets. Skilled labor is required for assembly and installation, and the removal and disposal of old cabinets can also add to the cost. It’s important to factor in these additional expenses when planning your kitchen remodel, as they can significantly impact your overall budget.

Engaging professional installers is the safest and possibly most cost-effective option for installing new cabinets. They possess expertise and are adept at handling the cabinets cautiously to avert damaging them during installation. Moreover, they are responsible should anything occur, as opposed to you taking on the risk.

Skilled Labor

The skilled labor necessary for the fabrication of kitchen cabinets encompasses carpentry, woodworking, mechanical skills, technical skills, and detail-oriented skills. The cost of skilled labor for kitchen cabinets can vary depending on the complexity of the design and the materials used. Generally, the cost of skilled labor for kitchen cabinets can be estimated to range from $50 to $150 per hour.

The complexity of the design and the precision required for the construction necessitate the utilization of skilled labor for kitchen cabinets. Investing in skilled labor ensures that your cabinets are built and installed to the highest standards, resulting in a beautiful, functional, and long-lasting kitchen.

cabinet makers replacing existing cabinets

Installation Process

The installation process for kitchen cabinets involves several steps, including attaching cabinets together, drilling holes in the cabinet doors, suspending upper cabinets, and incorporating base cabinets. Proper installation is crucial for the functionality and longevity of your kitchen cabinets, making it essential to hire skilled professionals or follow detailed step-by-step guides if attempting a DIY installation.

There are various types of cabinets available, including partial overlay, full overlay, and inset, which indicate the positioning of the door in relation to the cabinet frame. Understanding the different cabinet types and their installation requirements can help ensure a smooth and successful installation process.

Removal and Disposal of Old Cabinets

The removal and disposal of old cabinets can be achieved by engaging the services of a professional contractor who will remove the cabinets and transport them to a landfill. Alternatively, you can enlist the services of a professional junk removal company to haul them away for proper disposal. Another option is to recycle the cabinets by taking them apart and utilizing the wood for other projects.

The average expenditure for cabinet removal is in the range of $300 to $500. Additionally, the cost of a dumpster rental may be substantial, given that it includes delivery, dumping, and removal. Considering these costs when planning your kitchen remodel can help you better anticipate your overall budget and make informed decisions regarding the removal and disposal of old cabinets.

Size and Quantity of Cabinets

A kitchen with the size and quantity of cabinets required

The size and quantity of cabinets needed play a significant role in the overall cost of kitchen cabinets. Larger kitchens require more cabinets, and higher placements such as islands and desks make it difficult to complete the project in parts, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars for large kitchens. Considering the size and quantity of cabinets needed for your kitchen remodel can help you better understand the overall cost and make informed decisions to suit your budget and preferences.

To further explore the impact of size and quantity of cabinets on the cost, let’s delve into the specifics of kitchen size, the number of cabinets required, and cabinet placement.

Kitchen Size

The size of a kitchen may vary depending on the space available, but the average kitchen size is approximately 100 square feet. However, kitchens can range from diminutive (70 square feet or less) to moderate (100-200 square feet) to expansive (200 square feet and above). The expense of large kitchens with numerous cabinets can reach tens of thousands of dollars, making it essential to consider your kitchen size when planning your remodel.

Understanding the different sizes of kitchens and the costs associated with each size can help you make informed decisions about the number and type of cabinets needed for your space. This knowledge can also assist you in managing your overall budget and ensuring that your kitchen remodel meets your expectations.

Number of Cabinets Required

The number of cabinets necessary for a kitchen is contingent upon the size of the kitchen and the storage requirements of the homeowner. For example, a customary 10×10 kitchen would usually necessitate 12 cabinets.

When determining the number of cabinets required for your kitchen, it’s important to consider factors such as the available space, your storage needs, and the overall design of your kitchen. By taking the time to evaluate the number of cabinets needed for your space, you can better anticipate the overall cost and ensure that your kitchen remodel meets your storage and aesthetic requirements.

Cabinet Placement

Cabinet placement is another crucial factor to consider when planning your kitchen remodel. The available cabinet placements for a kitchen include wall-mounted, base, and tall cabinets. Proper placement of cabinets is essential for both functionality and aesthetics, so it’s important to carefully plan the layout and design of your kitchen cabinets.

Replacing only a portion of your kitchen cabinets can present challenges and create an aesthetically unpleasing result, making it essential to consider the overall design and placement of your cabinets when planning your remodel. By understanding the different cabinet placements and their impact on your kitchen’s design, you can make informed decisions to achieve a beautiful and functional space.

Saving Money on Kitchen Cabinets

A kitchen with affordable materials and DIY self-installation

While kitchen cabinets can be quite expensive, there are several ways to save money on your remodel without compromising on quality or design. By choosing cheaper materials, simplifying design choices, and doing some of the work yourself, you can significantly reduce the overall cost of your kitchen cabinets.

DIY and self-installation can be a cost-effective approach, but it’s important to consult a professional for advice and guidance to ensure a successful outcome. In this section, we will discuss various money-saving tips and insights to help you achieve your dream kitchen without breaking the bank.

Material Alternatives

There are several material alternatives available for kitchen cabinets, such as solid wood, wood veneers, plywood, high-density fiberboard (HDF), medium-density fiberboard (MDF), thermofoil, and laminate. Polyurethane is a viable option for those seeking a more economical choice for kitchen cabinets.

By considering these alternative materials, you can strike a balance between quality and affordability, ensuring that your kitchen cabinets stand the test of time while staying within your budget.

Before committing to a specific material, it’s essential to research the durability, aesthetics, and cost implications of each option. This will help you make an informed decision that suits your needs, preferences, and budget.

Simplifying Design Choices

Simplifying design choices involves minimizing the amount of materials, colors, and finishes utilized in kitchen cabinets, as well as employing standard sizes and shapes for the cabinets. This approach can help lower the expenditure of kitchen cabinets, as a lesser amount of materials and finishes are required. It can also facilitate the design process, as fewer decisions must be made.

However, simplifying design choices can restrict the design options at hand, as fewer materials and finishes are utilized. Additionally, it can prove challenging to devise a distinctive design.

By carefully considering your design choices and weighing the benefits and drawbacks of simplification, you can achieve a balance between cost and aesthetics that suits your specific needs and preferences.

DIY and Self-Installation

DIY and self-installation refer to the procedure of installing kitchen cabinets without the assistance of a professional. While this approach can potentially provide cost savings, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance to ensure a successful outcome. Tools including a drill, screwdriver, and level are necessary for installation, and step-by-step guides can be located online or in stores.

Attempting a DIY installation requires careful planning, research, and the acquisition of the necessary tools and skills. By consulting with professionals and following detailed guides, you can save money on labor costs while still achieving a beautiful and functional kitchen.


Throughout this blog post, we have uncovered the various factors that contribute to the cost of kitchen cabinets, including the choice of materials, customization and design, labor and installation costs, and the size and quantity of cabinets needed. We have also provided valuable money-saving tips and insights for homeowners looking to remodel their kitchens without breaking the bank.

By understanding these factors and carefully considering your options, you can make informed decisions that suit your budget and preferences, ultimately achieving your dream kitchen. With proper planning, research, and guidance, you can create a beautiful and functional space that you will enjoy for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are expensive kitchen cabinets worth it?

Investing in expensive kitchen cabinets is worth it if you value high-quality craftsmanship, as the materials used are likely to be of better quality and be more durable.

However, it is important to consider your budget and evaluate whether the additional cost is justified for your needs.

How can I reduce the cost of my kitchen cabinets?

There are several ways you can reduce the cost of your kitchen cabinets. Compare door styles, opt for open shelving rather than wall cabinets, select an affordable wood species, choose thermofoil or laminate instead of hardwood, reduce the number of soft-close drawers and full extension slides, avoid pullouts and customize less, and don’t add a glaze to your paint or stain.

By following these tips, you can save money on your kitchen cabinets.

How much should I budget for cabinets?

When budgeting for cabinets, you should factor in an average of $100 to $1,200 per linear foot depending on type and materials. Additionally, installation and labor costs should be included when estimating your total cost.

Considering all factors, you should plan for a range of $4,000 to $13,000 for kitchen cabinets.

Is it cheaper to buy cabinets or have them built?

Overall, it is usually cheaper to buy cabinets than have them custom built. Prefabricated cabinets are typically much more cost-effective and take less time to install than custom cabinets.

Buying prefabricated cabinets will also give you more options in terms of style, colour and storage.

Edward Meyer