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.

Hardwood Cabinets

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.

Plywood Cabinets

Plywood is an engineered wood material made from thin layers of wood glued together.

It’s a sturdy and strong option that is relatively affordable compared to solid wood, although it usually costs more than other options like medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or particleboard.

Plywood cabinets offer a good balance between value and durability.

Laminate Cabinets

Laminate cabinets use a thin layer of wood veneer or plastic laminate over the surface of a cabinet box made from particleboard or MDF. These cabinets can provide a sleek, modern look at a more affordable price. Some advantages and considerations for laminate cabinets include:

  • Variety of styles: Laminate cabinets offer a wide range of colors and patterns to choose from.
  • Low maintenance: Unlike wood cabinets, laminate surfaces don’t require much upkeep or refinishing.
  • Budget-friendly: Typically more affordable than solid wood or plywood options.
  • Durability concerns: While generally easy to clean, laminate cabinets can be prone to chipping or peeling over time.

As you decide on the best material for your kitchen cabinets, consider factors such as cost, durability, and maintenance needs. The right choice for your kitchen will depend on your personal preferences and budget.

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

Do It Yourself

  • One of the best ways to save money on kitchen cabinets is to do it yourself. If you have some basic carpentry skills and tools, you can construct your own cabinets from scratch. By doing this, you can save on labor costs and possibly even on materials, since you’ll be able to choose more affordable options. Moreover, working on your own cabinets gives you full control over the design, allowing you to customize the cabinets to suit your needs and preferences.
  • If constructing cabinets from scratch seems too difficult, you can still save money by buying ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets. These cabinets come flat-packed and disassembled, so you’ll need to put them together yourself. However, they generally cost less than pre-assembled cabinets and can be found in various budget-friendly options. Just make sure to carefully follow the assembly instructions to ensure the cabinets are properly installed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors contribute to the high cost of kitchen cabinets?

There are several factors that contribute to the high cost of kitchen cabinets. First, they are made from high-quality materials, which tend to be more expensive.

Second, they require skilled labor and craftsmanship, which can drive up the price. Additionally, the design process and finishing techniques used also impact the overall cost. Various factors like shipping, installation, and customization can add to the final price as well.

Are custom-built cabinets more expensive than pre-made options?

Yes, custom-built cabinets are typically more expensive than pre-made options. This is because they are designed and built specifically to fit your kitchen’s layout and measurements.

Custom-built cabinets provide greater flexibility in terms of design, style, and material choices, but this level of personalization comes at a higher cost compared to standard kitchen cabinets.

How does material choice affect the price of kitchen cabinets?

The choice of material greatly affects the price of kitchen cabinets. Hardwood is the most expensive material, while particleboard is the most affordable.

Engineered wood and MDF are in the middle range when it comes to cost. The material’s quality and overall durability play a significant role in determining the price.

Do quality and durability play a role in cabinet pricing?

Absolutely, quality and durability play a significant role in the pricing of kitchen cabinets.

Cabinets made from high-quality woods or composites with stain-resistant finishes will be more expensive, but they are designed to withstand daily wear and tear and last for many years.

Lower-quality materials may be more affordable upfront, but they may not last as long or look as good as time goes by.

Can cheaper alternatives still provide a quality kitchen cabinet?

While cheaper alternatives may not have the same level of quality and durability as more expensive options, they can still provide a satisfactory solution for a kitchen remodel on a budget.

For instance, you can choose engineered wood or particleboard instead of hardwood for your cabinets. Another option is to search for deals, discounts, or sales when buying cabinets, as this can help you save money without compromising on quality.

What are some cost-effective ways to update or replace kitchen cabinets?

There are several cost-effective ways to update or replace kitchen cabinets. You can:

  • Refinish or repaint existing cabinets to give them a fresh look
  • Replace only the cabinet doors and drawer fronts
  • Install new hardware or accessories on the cabinets
  • Look for pre-owned, lightly used cabinets that can be purchased at a lower price
  • Opt for less expensive materials, like engineered wood or particleboard

By considering these options, you can create a beautiful and functional kitchen space without breaking the bank.

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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