Choosing kitchen cabinets doesn’t have to be confusing. With a
little research on your part you’ll know what to ask for, what you want
and need, and where to find it. All while saving the most money you
First – Decide what you need, what you want, and what you can afford.
- What style are you looking for? Shaker, Country, Retro, Classic, New England, Cottage?
- Are you open to suggestions and ideas?
- Do you want wood, laminate, frame cabinets or frameless (Euro-style)?
- What type of countertops are you going with? Laminate, solid surface, marble, granite, quartz, concrete, tile, glass?
- Do you need an entirely new kitchen, just a bath vanity, or only a rollout fixed?
- Do you need help with the entire process, which means you might need
to hire or be your own contractor, or is your project small?
- What is your budget? If you have $200 you can paint your cabinets
for a fresh look or get new handles or knobs. If you have $5,000 or more
you will be able to get an entirely new kitchen, depending on size. If
you have $10,000 you might even begin thinking about remodeling
(changing walls, plumbing, etc.). Kitchens really can run from a few
thousand to several tens of thousands depending on where you live and
what you want. You’ll pay much more for a kitchen in New England or
Oregon than you will in Kentucky or Wisconsin.
Thinking about these questions will help get you going in the right direction.
Second – Decide where you are going to look when choosing kitchen cabinets – don’t limit yourself to factory cabinets only.
you’ve decided what you want and need and are choosing kitchen
cabinets, check around. If you need to purchase new cabinets, don’t fall
prey to the idea that all custom kitchen and bath cabinets are out of
your pocket-book range. There may be cabinet shops out there that are
actually less expensive than many factory cabinets (especially when you
figure in all the costs like installation, tac, moldings, etc.). But, do
be sure to check out the factory cabinets too. Some semi-custom
cabinets (which are factory cabinets with more options) may be just what
you’re looking for and what your budget can afford.
be free – at least once. If you have to pay someone to bid on your
project – RUN. But, don’t expect someone to bid on your cabinets more
than once for free. If you make changes to your plan, or change your
mind as to what you want and it needs to be re-bid, expect to pay a
small fee at a custom cabinet shop.
Factory cabinet bids will
likely continue to be free no matter how many changes you make. But,
remember, the more times you change your mind, the more chances there
will be for errors, especially with factory or semi-custom cabinets.
rural and small shops – you may find some bargains. If you are in a
metro area, take a look on the internet or phone books from outside your
area, under the headings cabinetry or kitchens. Rural cabinet shops
have cropped up all over in the past 20 years. They are usually very
good and usually less expensive than metro custom shops (although don’t
rule them out either!). Again, check around.
Remember to always
check any cabinet shop out first, before you put your hard-earned money
down. Here are some things that you can do to protect yourself as you
compare kitchen cabinet companies:
- Check with the Better Business Bureau.
- Go to the local grocery store or coffee shop and ask if anyone has heard of XYZ Cabinet Shop, and what kind of work they do.
- Ask the cabinet shop for references.
- Ask to see a kitchen they have completed.
- Ask to talk to one or more of their previous customers, get phone numbers and call on your own.
- Ask to tour their shop.
You can get some relative bargains out there, but you
can also get taken – keep your eyes wide open while choosing kitchen
Keep in mind: Sometimes factory quotes can be sneaky! (i.e. home centers, lumber yards)
choosing kitchen cabinets, don’t just look at the bottom line price. If
you quote factory cabinets (even some custom shops will leave these
things out, too) make sure that the following are included in the price,
or that you get prices for and consider the following:
- Is tax included?
- Is top trim included? What kind?
- What about toe kick? And if quoted, what kind is it? Just some black thing that won’t go with your kitchen and bath cabinets?
- Are the handles an extra expense? If they are this could run you $200 on up.
- What about countertops? Are they anywhere in the price, and what kind were figured?
- Who is going to install this, or is it included in the price?
- How much will they deduct if I can install it myself?
- How much will they deduct if I can stain and finish the kitchen and bath cabinets myself?
Third – Get what you need, what you want, and what you can afford.
choosing kitchen cabinets, make sure you are given a quote for what
kind of kitchen and bath cabinets you want. If any cabinet shop or
salesperson is hesitant to quote what you really want (especially if
they can’t explain why) be concerned.
They should be helpful and
not just push what they want to sell or what they have on hand. If they
think something won’t work for you, they should be able to give
legitimate reasons as to why, not just that they don’t sell those
things. It’s okay if they lead you in the right direction, but after you
weigh your options, you should get what you want.
Finally – Don’t forget about countertop options. They really make a bid difference in price.
When choosing kitchen cabinets, ask your supplier what they offer for countertops.
- Laminate Countertops – what edges do they offer?
- Wood Edge Countertops – what edges do they offer?
- Marble Countertops (be cautious, there are different qualities of
marble). I’m talking about cultured marble here. Real marble is very
spendy, but if it’s in your price range and you like it – go for it.
- Solid Surface – what companies can they get? Do they install or does
a third party? Can they make the seams look seamless? What kind of
guarantee comes with the product and how long after the cabinets are
installed will the countertop be installed?
- Quartz Countertops – (Cambria, Silestone, CaesarStone, etc.)
- Granite Countertops – for granite and quartz, also find out when
installation will be. It is usually a week or more after the cabinets
are installed (sometimes up to a month).
- Tile – do they tile, do you tile, or do you hire someone else to
tile? Also, who prepares the surface for tiling? Will there be a wood
edge around the tiles, will the tiles be bull-nozed, or fully
- If you want concrete, glass, or stainless steel – can they suggest a
good supplier or do you have to find your own? Please note that
concrete, glass, and stainless steel are relatively rare and will be
expensive – more so than granite or quartz.
Keep the above ideas in mind as you are choosing kitchen
cabinets. You will make informed decisions and save yourself some money.
And remember – HAVE A HAPPY KITCHEN!