How Much Will Your Kitchen Cabinets Cost?

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How Much Will Your Kitchen Cabinets Cost?

How much your kitchen cabinets will cost might not be your first thought as you begin to plan. If you’re not a fan of surprises, you may want to perform some research because kitchen remodeling costs can be surprisingly high. You’ve probably fallen in love after looking at photos of luxury kitchen cabinets and professional-grade appliances on Houzz and Pinterest. It’s OK to have a wish list, but you have to be honest with yourself about how much you can really afford to spend.

Cabinets will be the most expensive item in your remodeled kitchen. Only labor costs more than the cabinets.

Kitchen Cabinets / Remodel Cost Estimator

Although it is difficult to pin down the cost of a “typical” kitchen renovation, the Kitchen Design Partner’s Kitchen Remodel Cost Estimator will help you get a sense of just how much the individual items, including kitchen cabinets, going into your new kitchen are going to cost.

Our Calculator provides a basic, average cost for all the elements that go into a new kitchen. You may be considering cabinets, flooring, countertops, appliances, etc.

While you won’t get an exact price until you start looking into the actual brand name products you want, our Calculator should help you determine a budget range to plan on.

How the Kitchen Cabinets / Remodel Cost Estimator Works

The Calculator will determine how much your kitchen should cost, using a percentage of your home’s value. The rule of thumb is that your kitchen should equal 10% to 25% of your home’s total value. Most kitchen cost calculators use 15%.

Therefore, if your house is worth $200,000, you should be prepared to spend up to $30,000 to upgrade your kitchen.

Return on Investment (R-O-I) for Kitchen Remodel

Another finance-related consideration is the return on investment (R-O-I) you will realize from a remodeled kitchen when and/or if you decide to sell your house. If you’re in your “forever home”, then this won’t apply to you. But if you know you will be moving on in 5 or 10 years, you will want to consider the return you will get on your investment in a new kitchen.

Remodeling Magazine’s 2021 Cost vs. Value Report is a good resource if ROI is important to your kitchen remodel decision-making. The Cost vs. Value Report provides an accurate snapshot of the national housing market, but it can’t be specific for any one individual remodeling project.

The “value” of a project at the time of resale is subject to difficult-to-predict factors. You may love your remodeled kitchen, but prospective homebuyers may be looking for something else. There is no one best cabinet style or color, no perfect tile or fixture design that everyone likes. Certain design trends, such as painted cabinets or quartz countertops, appeal to many home buyers. But because of the differences in personal tastes, real-estate agents know that one person’s beautiful new kitchen may be viewed by prospective buyers as unappealing.

Resale value is only one of many factors you have to take into account when making the decision to remodel your kitchen. To get an idea of resale values in your area, construction cost estimates from reputable remodelers will help. As will talking with an experienced real-state professional about home prices in your neighborhood.

2021 Cost vs. Value Report

With all of that said, the 2021 Cost vs. Value Report provides the following statistics.

  • A minor kitchen remodel will cost on average $26,214. You will recoup 72.2% of your investment if you decide to sell your home.
  • A major kitchen remodel will cost on average $75,571. You will recoup 57.4% of your investment if you decide to sell your home.
  • A major upscale kitchen remodel will cost on average $149,079. You will recoup 53.9% of your investment if you decide to sell your home.

These costs are for the entire remodel, not kitchen cabinets only.

A Kitchen Remodel is More than $$

Resale value is only one reason for a kitchen remodel. A Houzz survey revealed that homeowners prioritized “improving design” (88%) and “improving functionality” (81%), compared to 67% who listed resale value as the reason for their renovation project.

Going by these survey results, most homeowners remodel their kitchens so that they work better for them. And making kitchens work better will be your kitchen designer’s top priority, as well.

Comparing Kitchen Cabinet Costs: Why Do Prices Vary?

If you’ve tried to comparison shop cabinet prices, you may be wondering why cabinet prices vary so much.

Cabinet manufacturers make it difficult to comparison shop cabinets. Cabinets have different names when they are sold at different locations. Even if the brand name is the same, the doors styles and finishes can have different names at different retailers.

How are Costs for Kitchen Cabinets Determined?

Cabinet pricing is dependent on many factors. It helps to know some of what goes into cabinet costs, including things like

  • construction method
  • materials, including woods and finishes, functional hardware
  • modification options
  • who you purchase them from

Which Kitchen Cabinets Are Right for You?

Determining which cabinets are right for you involves more than just looking at the price tag. They need to match your style preferences, offer storage solutions and provide the durability that will ensure your kitchen cabinets will last for years.

Make sure the cabinet brands you are looking at offer all of the options you want. This is an area where your kitchen designer will definitely help you make an informed decision. He or she is an expert at cabinet construction and what the various cabinet manufacturers offer, what they can and cannot do.

Learning about how to compare cabinet costs will help you choose the right product.

People who make a decision about their cabinets based on price alone often don’t get cabinet and hardware features they don’t know they need. Once the designer or sales person realizes people are only interested in the lowest price, they may not even be told about available upgrades. These upgraded features will add to the value of their project, as well as the enjoyment they will get from their new kitchen.

Be Sure You Are Comparing Apples-to-Apples When Looking at Kitchen Cabinet Costs

As we said above, due to differences in materials and quality, kitchen cabinets are very difficult to comparison shop. If you decide to compare a quote you received to other brands, it’s important to compare quality and construction features apples-to-apples.

Don’t Forget About Quality

As you set a budget and see the costs and pros and cons of different cabinets, be sure to factor quality into the equation. One cabinet brand may seem like the cost-effective choice. However, cabinets of higher quality with more customization options may actually be a better value overall.

Here are the basic construction features you should use to comparison shop.

1. Cabinet Box Material

Cabinet boxes are built from either plywood or particleboard.

High-end semi-custom and full custom cabinets use a combination of plywood and solid wood. Plywood with real wood veneers is used for the boxes, and solid wood or plywood with veneers for doors and drawers. Real wood is used for the cabinet faces.

Stock cabinets are typically built using particleboard, also known as MDF or furniture board. But that’s not true across the board. Some manufacturers do use plywood. Or they use a combination of particleboard and plywood. That’s what you want to look for.

Particleboard is made by binding wood particles together with a mixture of glue and resins. It’s cheap to manufacture. As a result, when it’s used to build cabinets, it keeps prices down.

2. Cabinet Back Panel

Cabinets with full-height back panels are structurally sound and are an indication of a quality-built cabinet. As an added benefit, they keep dust out of cabinets.

An open or partial cabinet back does not provide the same durability and protection and can be considered a feature in low quality cabinets.

3. Door Hinges and Drawer Guides

Soft close hinges and drawer guides are the standard for cabinets today. They are easily adjustable, give you full access to your drawer contents and eliminate the sound of slamming doors and rattling drawers in your kitchen.

In addition to soft close, you want to look for undermount guides. That is, guides under the drawer box, not mounted on the drawer sides. Side-mount guides are a sign of inferior or cheap or corner-cutting construction and should be avoided. Drawers with side mount guides are not stable and will move side-to-side when the drawers are opened and closed.

4. Drawer Box Construction

Drawers constructed with dovetail joints and wood bottoms and sides are durable and beautifully crafted.

On the other end of the quality scale, drawer boxes with stapled sides and bottom will sag because the bottoms are not set into the sides.

Make Sure You Are Comparing the Same Grade of Cabinet: Stock, Semi-Custom or Custom Cabinets

5. Stock Cabinets 

  • Stock cabinets are budget-friendly.
  • The number of cabinet sizes and colors is limited.
  • It’s difficult to achieve certain design looks.
  • Very limited storage solutions.
  • Some are fully assembled while others are R-T-A (ready to assemble) and will need to be assembled by your installer onsite. Figure on an hour or more of assembly time for each base and wall cabinet.
  • A money-saving choice if you aren’t too picky about style options or a perfect fit.
  • They’re usually made of thinly veneered particleboard, rather than higher-quality plywood.
  • Style and trim options and accessories are limited.
  • Measurement and quality issues are not uncommon.

6. Semi-Custom Cabinets

  • A no-risk choice for most kitchens.
  • Most use face-frame construction, where the solid wood frame keeps the cabinet box square.
  • Ideal for you, if you want a look that’s yours alone.
  • Durable cabinets without the high price of custom designs.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • More size options means a better fit
  • Lots of materials to choose from.
  • Extensive finish choices, including paint and stain plus specialty finishes like glazing
  • Crown moldings and trim options that aren’t available in a stock cabinet
  • Wood range hoods finished to match your cabinets. Also not usually available in a stock line.
  • Built-in storage accessories.
  • Features and quality can vary between cabinet lines.

7. Custom Cabinets.

  • Custom cabinets are crafted using plywood and other premium materials.
  • The best functional and decorative hardware.
  • Precise fitting. Widths are adjustable in 1/16-inch increments.
  • Will meet your exact design specifications.
  • Endless design possibilities.
  • Excellent, hand-built craftsmanship.
  • Top-of-the-line materials used in construction.
  • Expensive.
  • Long delivery times.

How You Can Get a Quoted Kitchen Cabinet Price Lowered

Some people shop around to try to get a lower price on cabinets. A salesperson or designer who is asked to re-quote someone else’s quote may make any or all of the changes listed below. These changes may lower the price, but they will also substantially lower cabinet quality.

  1. Not upgrading to plywood sides. You can save, but the cabinet is substantially less durable.
  2. No flush sides on the end cabinets. A savings, but less custom looking.
  3. Keeping substandard drawer hardware. The drawers will be less sturdy. Drawers will move side-to-side when opened and closed. No soft close.
  4. Substituting standard overlay or partial overlay door instead of a full overlay door. A difference in price, but also a difference in appearance.
  5. Changing cabinet box construction from 3/4″ to 1/2″ sides. Definitely less durable.
  6. Lowering quality of interior finish material from plywood veneer to melamine interior.
  7. 5/8″ thick shelves instead of 3/4″.  A noticeable quality reduction.
  8. Soft Maple drawer box instead of a solid Maple drawer box. Soft Maple has a lot of streaky sapwood that solid Maple doesn’t show.
  9. Not including sales tax or shipping in the quoted price will definitely lower the quote. However, it will get added on later.

Should You Consider the Kitchen Cabinet Warranty?

Some consumers focus on a cabinet manufacturer’s warranty as a way to judge its products’ quality. However, many well-made cabinet lines have the industry standard 5-year warranty, while lower quality lines have a 15-year warranty. 

A lifetime warranty doesn’t mean much. All life time warranties on cabinets are limited lifetime warranties. This means the warranty only applies as long as you live in the house where cabinets are installed. They usually cover finish issues only, not cabinet construction or hardware failures.

Final Analysis: How Much Do Kitchen Cabinets Cost?

The answer to how much do kitchen cabinets cost is that it depends. We’ve outlined in this article the various factors that contribute to the overall cost of kitchen cabinets:

  • materials used
  • construction method
  • functional and decorative hardware
  • finishes used

Also, it matters whether you’ve selected stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets or full custom cabinetry. And we have to mention that who you purchase your cabinets from will have an impact on the final cost.

All of these factors go into determining how much kitchen cabinets cost.

 KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.