Ways to Reduce the Cost of Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets can be one of the most expensive parts of renovating or remodeling a kitchen. From materials to installation, cabinets can end up costing thousands of dollars. However, there are ways to get beautiful, functional cabinets while sticking to your budget. This article will explore many options and considerations for reducing the costs of new kitchen cabinets.

Carefully Evaluate Your Needs

Before starting a kitchen cabinet project, think about how you use your kitchen. Analyze what you like and dislike about your current cabinet setup. Decide which aspects of your cabinets need updating, and which areas work fine as-is. This evaluation will help you determine whether you need a full cabinet replacement or a budget-friendly cabinet refresh.

Consider the following to hone in on your needs:

  • Which cabinets are in poor condition or functionally obsolete? Focus your replacement efforts here first.
  • Are your cabinet interiors well organized, or do they need better storage solutions?
  • Is the cabinet layout inefficient? Changing layouts can optimize workspace.
  • Do you prefer certain cabinet styles or finishes? Identify must-have details so you can prioritize the most important upgrades.
  • Are you happy with the size and location of appliances like the oven and refrigerator? How appliances integrate with cabinetry impacts project scope.

Once you know which cabinet elements need attention, you can better control costs by focusing on those areas rather than doing unnecessary large-scale replacements.

Explore Budget-Friendly Materials

Using more affordable materials is one of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of kitchen cabinets. Although solid wood cabinets are gorgeous, you can find durable options made from engineered wood products that mimic the look of wood at a fraction of the price.

Engineered Wood Products

Particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), and plywood provide attractive, functional construction at lower costs. Opt for these frugal foundations, then add touches like wood veneer or laminate only where visible. For example, use MDF for cabinet boxes but apply a veneer inside visible areas like open shelving.


  • Durable and stable like solid wood
  • Consistent sizing for easy construction
  • Available with pre-applied exterior finishes
  • Lower cost than natural woods


  • Not as strong or repairable as solid wood
  • Edges may require additional finishing


High-pressure laminates give a wood-like finish for further savings. Melamine-covered particleboard provides a budget-friendly solution for cabinet interiors. Or, choose laminate panels to apply onto economical wood frameworks. With today’s realistic patterns and textures, laminates look amazingly like natural materials for a fraction of the price.


  • Durable, stain and scratch-resistant surfaces
  • Ease of cleaning
  • Affordable pricing
  • Wide range of colors and finishes


  • Doesn’t have the richness or depth of real wood finishes
  • Can’t refinish or repair damaged areas


Also called PVC or vinyl, thermofoil is an ultra-affordable alternative to costlier finishes. A printed plastic membrane bonds to a wood substrate via high heat. The smooth surface resists moisture, impact, and wear-and-tear. Thermofoils come in convincingly real wood looks and bold painted colors.


  • Very budget-friendly
  • Highly durable and low-maintenance
  • Easy to clean
  • Color consistency and uniformity


  • Plastic-like rather than natural material
  • Can’t repair damages
  • Limited color and pattern options

No matter your style or budget, there is an engineered wood product capable of lowering your bottom line cost while maintaining function and aesthetics.

Take Advantage of Stock Cabinetry

In a custom cabinetry project, everything is built from scratch to your specifications. With stock or semi-custom cabinetry, you select from predetermined cabinet sizes and configurations to design your new kitchen. This approach provides excellent quality while avoiding the high costs of full customization.

Stock cabinets come in standard sizes like 12″, 15″, 18″ depths and 3″, 6″, 9″ increments of height and width. Due to mass manufacturing efficiencies, stock cabinet companies offer very attractively priced cabinet lines. Choose a style you like, select desired sizes and finishes, and arrange cabinets in a layout that works for your space. With an abundance of sizes and accessories, semi-custom approaches give you design flexibility at a lower cost.


  • High-quality construction at affordable pricing
  • Ability to customize arrangements and finishes
  • Faster production times than custom cabinets


  • Limited to predetermined sizes and styles
  • May require fillers or creative solutions to fit space
  • Less one-of-a-kind uniqueness than custom designs

While custom will give you the most personalized end-product, stock cabinetry represents the biggest bang for your buck. Take time to seek out stock cabinet suppliers that offer styles and configurations suited to your taste and space.

Stick With Standard Sizes

Since stock cabinets utilize common widths like 12″ and 15″, designing your kitchen layout around standard sizes will maximize cost savings. Whenever possible, plan cabinet runs to align with typical measurements. Here are some tips to make the most of in-stock sizes:

  • Use standard dimensions for cabinet heights like 84″ floor cabinets and 30″ wall cabinets.
  • Make window and appliance spaces conform to stock options like 24″ dishwasher cabinets or 12″ refrigerator end panels.
  • Adjust other design elements like soffits and island overhangs to allow stock cabinet usage.
  • Use stock filler panels and moldings to transition between different cabinet sizes.
  • Choose countertops and backsplashes that work with typical cabinet depths like 25″ for countertops.

Your designer can help adjust your kitchen plans to optimize stock cabinet usage. Though some minor customization may be required, stock sizes can get you remarkably close to your dream design for less.

Compare Design Options and Pricing

From door styles to drawers configurations, the variations are endless when selecting new kitchen cabinets. As you explore design possibilities, pay attention to how each decision impacts the project budget. Here are key details to analyze:

Door Styles

Simple slab door styles generally cost less than more complex recessed panel or decorative door designs. Keep costs down by choosing a streamlined Shaker, Slab, or minimalist door rather than intricate raised panels or applied molding details.

However, don’t assume plain equals cheap. Quality modern styles with clean lines and sleek materials can get pricey. Weigh visual appeal against the budget to pick the best door design for your needs and taste.

Drawer Construction

Drawers can get complicated and costly with features like soft-closing slides, built-in organizers, and roll-out trays. Determine which drawers need enhancements versus standard cutlery and storage drawers. Perhaps outfit lower cabinets with deluxe drawers and keep upper units simple to balance function and cost.

Also, remember that multiple smaller drawers often have a higher price tag than fewer larger drawers, due to construction labor and hardware. Find the combination that maximizes usable space without overcomplicating the build.

Decorative Touches

Details like fluted columns, corbel accents, and crown molding add eye-catching flair. However, they also quickly increase the cabinet price tag. Use embellishments sparingly to accent key focal areas. For most cabinets, a simplified design will suffice and help control expenses.

Finish Options

Painted cabinets are generally more affordable than wood stains, while high-end glazes, multi-step finishes and heavy distressing add cost. Think about finish needs for each cabinet area. The island could display woodgrain beauty while surrounding cabinets get an economical coat of paint.

Regardless of style preferences, comparing pricing on different configurations will reveal money-saving opportunities. Don’t equate plain with cheap or elaborate with expensive without checking bid costs. A simpler design often wins for maximum function per dollar.

Buy Displays, Cancelled Orders and Used Cabinets

Looking beyond regular retail avenues can uncover big discounts on quality cabinets. Check with home improvement stores, cabinet dealers and ReStore locations to snap up savings on the following money-saving finds:

Display Models

Home centers and cabinet showrooms frequently update the displays showcasing their latest styles. This leaves perfectly good, lightly used cabinets available at a steep discount. Measure to ensure the sizes work, then give these barely-broken-in beauties a brand new home.

Cancelled Orders

Change of plans means new cabinets suddenly become surplus stock. Ask dealers about acquiring unclaimed pre-made cabinets at a discount. With a little flexibility, you may find options to substitute into your kitchen design at a significant price cut.

Used Cabinets

Giving used cabinets new life often costs pennies on the dollar compared to buying new. Habitat for Humanity ReStores offer a rotating stock of quality used cabinets in great condition. Scout resale listings for kitchen remodels making previously-installed cabinets available. With minor repairs and updates, used cabinets become big savings.

With the variety of budget-friendly cabinet materials and procurement methods available, creating a fresh, functional dream kitchen while sticking to your bottom line is totally achievable. Get creative to find ways to cut costs without cutting corners on quality. The results will look like you splurged, even though your smart strategizing kept expenses in check. Your kitchen and wallet will both have reason to celebrate!

Frequently Asked Questions about Reducing Kitchen Cabinet Costs

Still have concerns about actualizing your dream kitchen while maintaining affordability? Check out answers to some common questions on budget-friendly kitchen cabinet remodeling below.

How much do new kitchen cabinets typically cost?

The average cost to install new kitchen cabinets falls between $8,000-15,000, with more complex or luxurious designs running $25,000 or more. Stock cabinets provide quality construction for $3,000-8,000 for an average 10 x 10 kitchen. Semi-custom cabinets range from $9,000-18,000 installed. The sky’s the limit for full-custom cabinetry.

What are the most affordable cabinet materials?

Laminates, thermofoil, particleboard, and MDF offer the biggest bang-for-your-buck. Solid wood options like oak and maple cost more but bring natural beauty. Carefully chosen mixes like laminate boxes with solid wood doors balance budget and desirability.

Should I refinish or replace old cabinets?

If cabinets are structurally sound, refinishing can refresh for around $2,000 or less. Dings, damage or layout issues usually point to replacement. Remember to factor in potential plumbing, electrical and drywall work which add to costs.

Can I install kitchen cabinets myself?

With proper planning and tools, DIY cabinet installs are totally doable and reduce project costs by 50% or more. Alternatively, purchase cabinets ready-to-assemble to handle construction yourself. Pre-assembled cabinets typically get professionally installed unless you’re very skilled.

How do I choose affordable countertop materials?

Laminate is the most wallet-friendly at $20-30 per square foot. Wood butcher block, tile, recycled glass, and cultured marble offer durable elegance from $30-100/square foot. Natural stone costs $60-150/square foot but provides luxe beauty.

How can I cut down on custom cabinet costs?

Use stock sizes where possible, limit customization to key areas like a decorative range hood, design with simple door styles and avoid custom finishes. Work with your designer to balance personalized elements and cost-cutting stock components.

Updating your kitchen cabinetry doesn’t have to drain your bank accounts with the right combination of savvy shopping, strategic design, and customization restraint. Follow the guidance in this article to uncover plenty of ways to reduce the cost of your new kitchen cabinets. Soon you’ll be cooking and entertaining in a stunning yet affordable kitchen space.


With strategic planning and resourcefulness, you can reimagine your kitchen with beautiful new cabinets without breaking the budget. Focus first on determining your priorities, from necessary functional improvements to desired aesthetic updates. Take advantage of the many budget-friendly cabinet materials and purchasing methods available. Comparing pricing on different configurations reveals the biggest bang for your buck. Invest wisely to balance splurges in key areas with cost-saving solutions elsewhere.

Approaching your project with an eye for maximizing value helps cut expenses without sacrificing style. Do your homework to find quality discounts on unused, replacement and used cabinets. The savings derived from smart shopping and innovative design really add up. Before you know it, you’ll have breathtaking new cabinets and money left over, thanks to diligently pursuing so many ways to reduce the costs. With an enviable kitchen and extra cash, you come out the big winner!