How to Find Cheap or Free Kitchen Cabinets


Renovating your kitchen can be an exciting project, but the costs of new appliances, countertops, and especially cabinets can really add up. With some savvy shopping tactics and clever DIY solutions though, it is possible to find affordable or even free kitchen cabinets to create a beautiful new kitchen on a budget. This comprehensive guide will explore all the ways you can source heavily discounted or outright free cabinets and install them affordably in your home. With some persistence and creativity, you can give your kitchen a transformative facelift at a fraction of the usual cost.

Check Classified Listings For Used Cabinets

One of the best ways to find cabinets for cheap or free is to check classified listings in your area. Sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and Nextdoor are great resources to find used kitchen cabinets for sale or even being given away for free. Homeowners often remove kitchen cabinets during renovations and are eager to sell or get rid of them. You can find cabinets for as low as $20-$50 per cabinet, compared to $100 or more for new cabinets from a home improvement store. Used cabinets may need some fixing up, but with a fresh coat of paint or stain, hardware replacements, and new countertops, you can make them look brand new. Be sure to thoroughly examine all cabinets before purchasing to check for any damage or missing pieces. Bringing a friend along to help disassemble and transport the cabinets home is also a big help. With some diligent searching on classified sites, you can often find enough high-quality used cabinets to redo your whole kitchen for a fraction of retail price.

Check Habitat For Humanity ReStore

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home improvement stores that sell new and used building materials, furniture, appliances, and more – all donated from individuals and businesses. The merchandise at ReStores varies widely, but it’s a great place to check for discounted kitchen cabinets. Oftentimes, ReStores receive cabinet sets removed from kitchen renovations that they then resell at a steep discount. A set of solid wood cabinets that would cost upwards of $5000+ new may sell for $500-$1000 at a Habitat ReStore. Selection is hit or miss, so persistence pays off when cabinet hunting at ReStores. Also be prepared to do some light refurbishing, as the cabinets may have some wear and tear. But with some elbow grease, Habitat ReStore cabinets can be transformed into beautiful, budget-friendly options for your kitchen redo. Call ahead to check their cabinet inventory and visit often to snap up any promising finds.

Scout Out Cabinet Closeouts

Heading to home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s can also yield some budget-friendly cabinet finds. Stores will often discount floor model cabinets or overstock items that haven’t sold. These inventory closeout cabinets are usually around 25-50% off retail pricing. The selection is limited to whatever models the store is trying to clear out, but keep an eye out for cabinets in versatile neutral colors like white or wood tones that can work in most kitchens. Denting or damage is common with floor models, so inspect each cabinet carefully and consider if small flaws are acceptable or if repairs will be needed. But with the deep discounts, minor repairs may be worth it for the savings. Build a relationship with store employees so they’ll tip you off about upcoming sales, special orders that customers didn’t pick up, and any clearance or discontinuation sales worth checking out. A well-timed closeout deal can equal big savings on your kitchen remodel.

Salvage Cabinets From Demolition Sites

If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, reclaiming and salvaging used kitchen cabinets yourself can be a rewarding and budget-friendly option. Check for local demolition projects at sites like old schools, banks, offices or homes. Contact the contractor to find out if removing the kitchen components yourself is a possibility before demolition day. If you’re given the green light, arrive prepared with a truck, moving blankets, pry bars, and plenty of helping hands to carefully extricate the cabinets. Focus on all-wood cabinet boxes in good condition that are solid candidates for reuse. Look for sturdy plywood boxes, preferably made with wood joinery rather than nails and glue. Once removed, check for damage and develop a refurbishing plan. With some skill and sweat equity, remodeling with reclaimed cabinets can give your kitchen a unique, eco-friendly appeal.

Use Stock Kitchen Cabinets

Stock kitchen cabinets are a more affordable and standardized option than custom-built cabinetry. Home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s carry ranges of stock cabinetry in various styles and price points. Stock cabinets come in standard widths and heights, with some minor adjustments possible through fillers and trim. By designing your kitchen layout around the stock cabinet sizes, you can avoid expensive customization charges. Stick with simpler cabinet styles and finishes to keep costs low. Stock cabinets made from particle board or fiberboard with laminate, Thermofoil, or painted finishes typically range from $80-$250 per cabinet – a significant savings versus custom cabinets. Putting the stock cabinets together yourself is also much cheaper than paying for professional installation. The DIY route does require carpentry skills, patience, and time, but if done correctly, stock cabinets offer an affordable path to a fresh new kitchen.

Consider Ready-To-Assemble Cabinets

Ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets are a middle ground between stock and custom cabinets in terms of pricing. RTA cabinets are flat-packed and ship directly to your home to be assembled on site. Without the overhead expenses of cabinet showrooms and professional installers, RTA cabinets cost roughly 40-50% less than custom cabinetry. Quality varies widely though, so read reviews thoroughly before purchasing. Focus on all-wood RTA cabinets and avoid cheaper particleboard options. RTA cabinets offer more customizable options than stock cabinets, like choosing from an array of door styles and finishes. Measure carefully and create an accurate layout to receive the precise cabinet boxes and pieces you need. Leave wiggle room in your budget for a carpenter to tweak and scribe cabinets for a perfect fit. While more labor intensive, assemble-it-yourself RTA cabinets are a great value route to a custom look.

Reface Existing Cabinets

If your current cabinet boxes and layout are in good structural shape, refacing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts is an affordable alternative to a full cabinet replacement. New veneered cabinet doors in styles from Shaker to slab to ornate decorative overlays can entirely transform dated or damaged cabinets at a fraction of the price of new cabinetry. DIY refacing kits from home improvement stores come with new doors, hinges, and hardware for as little as $30-$50 per door. Adding nicer drawer glides and fresh paint on cabinet interiors also promotes a brand new look. Refacing maintains your existing cabinet footprint, avoiding layout changes. The process is minimally invasive, with most of the work occurring on detached cabinet doors. Bathroom mirrors, tile backsplashes, and kitchen appliances can all stay in place. While not a full kitchen transformation, cabinet refacing offers serious facelift potential for roughly 10-25% of the cost of all new cabinets.

Build Your Own Custom Cabinets

The ultimate budget-friendly cabinet option is designing and building your own from scratch with new or repurposed lumber and basic tools. This path requires advanced DIY skills, but allows you to customize dimensions, features, and finishes. Utilize simple cabinet box construction with plywood and lumber connected at right angles with nails, screws, glue, or wood joints. Cut costs by using beadboard paneling or other inexpensive wood for the cabinet sides, saving pricier plywood for structural panels like bottoms, tops, and shelves. Incorporate found items like old windows, dresser drawers, or salvaged wood. Add your own custom cabinet doors – slabs from reclaimed lumber, painted MDF, beadboard, or even chicken wire over open shelves work beautifully. Building ingenuity is key when crafting DIY cabinets on a shoestring budget. Creating your own cabinets also allows a completely customized fit for your unique kitchen layout. For those with workshop skills and an independent spirit, homemade cabinets may be the ultimate budget- and satisfaction-booster for your next kitchen project.

Explore County or City Surplus

Local municipalities like counties and cities often have surplus warehouses or auction sites to sell used furnishings, fixtures, and materials from remodels of government buildings and schools. Swing by the surplus stores or auctions in your area to uncover potential cabinet finds for your kitchen. Cabinets removed from old high school home ec classrooms, firehouses, police stations, courthouses, and county offices may potentially show up in the surplus inventory. Selection will be hit or miss based on whatever projects have been done lately, so persistence pays off. Inspect any prospective cabinets closely for hidden damage or wear and determine if repairs will be DIY-feasible or more costly. Factor in prices at auction plus transport costs to calculate if surplus cabinets will yield overall savings for your project. With good condition, usable sizing, and the right winning auction bid, government cast-offs could be cabinet treasures!

Check Job Sites For New Leftover Cabinets

Construction sites are an excellent place to scout out excess new cabinets available for cheap or free. Builders and remodelers often have leftover new cabinets from jobs where homeowners purchased more than they needed or changed orders mid-project. Unused cabinets at the job site typically go to waste, so workers may be willing to part with new cabinets for deeply discounted prices or even free just to move them off site. The catch is the cabinets will likely be special order items versus in-stock cabinet sizes. Make careful measurements beforehand and design your kitchen layout around utilizing these leftover new cabinets. Visit active residential construction areas and build relationships with contractors to get tipped off about extra new cabinets to claim. Construction leftovers with minor scrapes or handling marks are an absolute score for significant savings on your kitchen overhaul.

Search Independent Cabinet Makers

Instead of big box home stores, check with local independent cabinet makers and woodworkers to source discounted or reclaimed cabinets. Many independent craftsmen have excess supply of quality cabinets due to remodeling cancellations or other unused client orders. Ask neighboring cabinet shops and woodworkers if they have surplus shop-made cabinet boxes you could purchase at a markdown – potentially $100s off retail. These cabinets simply need new doors and perhaps minor repairs or adjustments for installation in your home. Independent makers may also have access to reclaimed barn wood, lumber scraps, or salvaged materials to build budget-friendly made-to-order cabinets. An experienced craftsman can often rework reclaimed wood and old cabinet carcasses into beautifully unique new kitchen storage at a reasonable cost. A custom creation using recycled materials can provide a real conversational focal point in your new kitchen.

Utilize Cabinet Refurbishing Services

Another option is to purchase very used, damaged, or incomplete cabinets on the cheap and then hire an affordable cabinet refurbishing service to redo them. Search for a local shop that specializes in rehabilitating old cabinets, from smaller operations to large warehouses that handle bulk orders. Provide them with cabinets sourced from demolitions, auctions, or salvage yards and they will repair frames, replace damaged pieces, strip and refinish, and make the old cabinets like new again. Refurbishing services have set prices per cabinet box versus pricier hourly shop rates. While more costly than DIY refurbishing, professionals with the right equipment can make heavily distressed cabinets look stunningly renewed. Refreshing old cabinets through an affordable refurbishing service yields beautiful, environmentally-friendly kitchen storage.

Consider Cabinet Rentals

Looking for a temporary fix? Cabinet and flooring rental companies offer short-term use of cabinets, often used for staged open houses or model homes. Renting cabinets cuts out the cost of purchasing while still allowing you to swap your old cabinets for a limited period, typically a month or longer. Rentals also give you the ability to trial run a style or layout before permanent commitment. Rental cabinets are typically in good shape with neutral finishes to appeal to a wide audience. Check your local area for building supply houses or stores that offer cabinet and flooring rentals. Just be sure to measure carefully and account for all cabinets and accessories needed for a complete functioning kitchen. Don’t forget to line up rental assistance for hauling and installing the cabinets. While not a forever solution, cabinet rentals let you swap out your old eyesore kitchen for a short while as you save up for your dream replacement.

Gather DIY Cabinet Ideas

Before investing in cabinets, spend time gathering ideas and inspiration for budget-friendly DIY cabinets you can build or spruce up yourself. Browse Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, home blogs, and DIY sites for tutorials on transforming cabinets on a budget. Find step-by-steps on painting worn cabinets, adding new cabinet facades, refurbishing old cabinet boxes, building custom cabinets from scratch, and more. Discover ideas for crafting shabby chic, rustic farmhouse, industrial modern, or contemporary DIY cabinets tailored to your personal style. Research what types of tools and materials to source and stock up when prices dip. Arm yourself with DIY knowledge so you can pounce when you encounter the perfect cabinets to transform. Then roll up your sleeves and get ready to build a Pinterest-worthy kitchen on a dime!

Ask Friends For Unused Cabinets

Don’t forget to tap your social network! Spread the word to friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors that you’re looking for affordable kitchen cabinets. Tell everyone the sizes and styles you need and offer to haul away any unused cabinets taking up their space. You may be surprised what turns up from basements, garages, or backyard sheds, often for cheap or free. DIY-ers love to find new homes for abandoned projects and materials. Offering removal services eliminates hassle and provides motivation for others to surrender unneeded cabinets. Draft social media posts describing exactly what you’re looking for and ask followers to share. The power of community just may yield cabinet scores through your own social and local channels.

Buy Used Cabinets Online

Online sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are go-to spots to source discounted secondhand cabinets locally. But don’t forget about buying used cabinets online to expand your search radius for mass deals. eBay, Habitat for Humanity online stores, and websites for used building supplies offer listings searchable by keyword for “kitchen cabinets.” Narrow your search by cabinet style, size, color, material, and condition. Read descriptions and zoom in on photos carefully to assess wear and tear. Check seller reviews for indications of accurate descriptions and smooth transactions. For the widest selection, look nationally and consider arranging affordable shipping for a large quantity buy. Going the online used route takes more research but opens up far more cabinet prospects. Set saved searches on your favorite sites and grab discounted cabinets for significant savings whenever they pop up.

Final Thoughts

The high cost of purchasing new kitchen cabinets at retail price can bust renovation budgets. But with the resourceful ideas in this guide, you can uncover amazing deals on discounted, used, salvaged, or DIY-refurbished cabinets. Put in the time hunting for budget-friendly cabinets through venues like classified listings, ReStore locations, construction site leftovers, online sites, and DIY projects. Arm yourself with research, measurements, helpers, and refurbishing know-how. With some persistence and creativity, you can install an incredible new kitchen, complete with beautiful cabinets, for a surprising fraction of what you expected. Don’t settle for living with an outdated or dysfunctional kitchen due to expensive cabinets. Implement these tips to discover how amazingly affordable your dream kitchen can be!