Why Are Kitchen Cabinets So Expensive?

Thinking of renovating your old kitchen, but the sheer cost of new cabinets is making you doubtful? You’re not alone.

But why are kitchen cabinets so expensive?

Kitchen cabinets are costly because of the cost of materials, manufacturing, labor, customization, added features, etc. If you act smartly, you can cut down on these costs.

So, without ado, let’s explore why kitchen cabinets are expensive and how to reduce their overall cost!

Reasons Why Kitchen Cabinets Are So Expensive

Here are some reasons why kitchen cabinets can end up costing you a lot:

The Cost & Quality of Materials

The cost of kitchen cabinets will vary based on the materials you use. Essentially, there are no truly cheap materials used in kitchen cabinets.

Ideally, you should use top-quality materials for your kitchen cabinets to keep water damage at bay. With that said, high-end wood for kitchen cabinets can hike your overall cost.

It’s why it’s best to look at various cabinet materials to find the best fit for your needs and budgets. However, make sure you don’t choose lower-end materials as they will not last long.

Moreover, the price of wood keeps fluctuating in the market based on supply and demand.

The most common types of kitchen cabinet woods include pine, oak, hickory, cherry, and maple.

Meanwhile, birch and mahogany are the more expensive options. Pine is perhaps the least expensive wood for kitchen cabinets, while maple and oak cost less than cherry.

Maple and oak come in several hues, and you can get them stained in various finishes. So, if you’re looking for good quality within a budget, maple and oak are great options.

Apart from wood, cabinets come in high-end designs with granite and marble finishes.

These materials add to the overall cost of the cabinets. So, think of the materials before ordering your cabinets.

Installation Costs

Installation of kitchen cabinets adds to the overall expense. Since you need expert contractors to install your cabinets, they will charge you for their expertise.

Even though you can attempt a DIY cabinet installation, many homeowners will not have the time, tools, and knowledge to do so. It’s why installation costs can be quite a lot.

The cost of installing kitchen cabinets will also vary based on the difficulty of the project, and the time it will take. It will require leveling, finishing, and perfection.

Even if one cabinet is not installed correctly, it will throw off the entire look and compromise the assembly. It will also run the risk of accidental injury.

Moreover, you will face difficulty closing the drawers and cabinet doors. Poor installation will affect the functionality of your cabinets, which will become a long-term issue.

Installation experts will bring two to three people to ensure the cabinets are adequately lined.

It will be a time-consuming and tricky process, depending on the design of your cabinets.

Removal of Existing Cabinets

Typically, when you are renovating your old kitchen, you will need to remove the old cabinets, which will add to the cost.

It’s a time-consuming and challenging process that might require a professional hand.

After all, you will need to remove all the individual cabinets from the wall. You can attempt a DIY removal, but it might end up costing you more if you don’t know what you’re doing.

You might have to repair the damage left behind by the previous cabinets on the walls before getting the new ones installed. Moreover, the disposal of old cabinets will also cost you.

If you have a massive kitchen, you might need to rent a dumpster to dispose of the cabinets. Dumpster costs can be quite high, involving delivery, dumpster services, and removal.

If your old cabinets are in good condition, you can sell them or recycle them into some other furniture.

Lastly, you can do it yourself if you want to save on the cabinet removal process. All you need is a screwdriver, a large hammer, and a fundamental understanding of how the cabinet is affixed to the wall.

Just make sure that you don’t damage the cabinet or the wall during the removal process.

Other Labor Costs

Apart from cabinet removal costs, you also have to consider other labor costs. You will need to pay for the labor spent in building the cabinets and delivering them.

Plus, if you have chosen custom cabinets, you will need to hire seasoned cabinet installation experts to deliver and install them to prevent damage.

Labor costs are generally high as people charge for their expertise. They have trained for many years in their respective field and have amassed relevant experience.

Cabinets might look like simple kitchen essentials, but they are not. Manufacturing them requires the right knowledge, skills, equipment, and attention to detail.

It takes time to understand the quality of each wood and build custom cabinets. It’s why manufacturing costs are typically high.

Moreover, the shipping costs of lumber and hardware will add to the overall cost of the cabinets. The shipping cost will vary based on how far the manufacturer or retailer is from your place.

Some sellers offer free shipping, which will save you a lot. The delivery charges will also depend on your location. You can cut down on these by picking the cabinets yourself, but it will require extra work.

Features & Functions

Kitchen cabinets come with many features, such as flat panel doors, additional room, self-closing doors, and more.  You can choose cabinets that fit your distinct needs.

However, be mindful that if you choose kitchen cabinets with multiple features that fulfill all your needs, you will have to pay a premium price.

On the other hand, a basic kitchen cabinet that offers functionality will cost a lot less. With that said, you need to consider your specific needs and choose an option that makes things convenient for you.

Think of where your pots and pans and other kitchen utensils and essentials will go. Plan the layout in your mind and consider functionality above all else. It will help you choose the appropriate cabinets.

Customization Costs

Some cabinets are mass-produced, while others are custom-made. Naturally, the latter cost more while the former are ready-made cabinets that cost less.

Customized cabinets cost more because they involve higher labor costs, the use of custom materials, bespoke designs, more time and effort, supplemental features, etc.

On the other hand, mass-produced cabinets are the ones that are readily available and come as a one-size-fits-all solution. However, you will need to make your space work with these cabinets.

On the flip side, custom cabinets are designed according to your kitchen’s shape, size, and aesthetic. They offer more flexibility in terms of material, assembly, style, hues, and more.

If you have a larger-than-standard kitchen or an odd corner for the cabinets, you will need bespoke cabinets to fit into your kitchen. If you’re worried about the cost, you can build your cabinets.

However, it will take time, learning, and effort. Moreover, you will have to ensure the cabinets are stable enough to hold your appliances and kitchen supplies.

If you opt for a manufacturer-made custom cabinet, it will cost more since these cabinets are only made on order. They are not lying around in storage. Hence, they cost more than your average cabinets.

If you choose custom cabinets, you can go all out and have built-in spice pantries, wine racks, cutting boards, step stools, etc. You can also install more cabinets and drawers for more storage.

Hardware Costs

Another significant expense that adds to the cost of kitchen cabinets is hardware. Each cabinet and drawer will have a knob or handle. Some knobs are mass-manufactured and don’t cost a lot.

However, some are custom-made or have detailed designs, and they can cost quite a lot. Even though it might feel like you’re purchasing a small piece of hardware, the costs will add up.

Hardware will cost you a lot if you have an expansive kitchen cabinet design. It will last a long time, so you will not have to worry about replacement costs.

It’s why you must invest in top-quality hardware. It will also help enhance the look of your cabinets and match with the material. If you don’t want to spend a lot, you can choose mid-grade quality hardware.

You will also need to spend on rails and hinges designed for your custom cabinets. If your cabinets include unique mechanisms, you will require special hardware pieces, such as pop-up latches.

It will further add to the total cost of your cabinets. Depending on the finish you choose, your hardware can cost a lot. Basic silver hardware is cheap, but plated and brushed are a bit expensive.

Glazing Costs

Many kitchen cabinets go through the process of glazing. It keeps the cabinet surface from collecting grease and steam remnants while giving them a shiny look.

Glazing can be a bit expensive, but it keeps your cabinets in top shape for a long while. But you can cut down on this cost by using high-quality paint for your cabinets that will act similar to glazing.

With regular wiping and washing, your cabinets will remain in top condition. You can compare the price of different finishes and paints and choose the one that meets your budget and needs.

How to Reduce the Cost of Kitchen Cabinets

Here are some tips to reduce the cost of kitchen cabinets:

  • Choose a mid-range, cost-effective material
  • Consider alternative finish and paints
  • Select a mid-range cabinet brand
  • Choose functionality over aesthetics
  • Refinish instead of replacing the cabinets
  • Shop for discounts and deals
  • Go easy on the customization

The Bottom Line

As evident above, there are many reasons why kitchen cabinets can be expensive. The price will depend on the material and finishes you choose, the customization, hardware, features, and installation costs.

You can reduce the costs by choosing mid-quality materials that offer longevity and installing the cabinets yourself.

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