Here’s How to Find Cheap Kitchen Cabinets That Won’t Compromise Your Style
Whether you have a galley kitchen, an L-shaped kitchen, a single-wall kitchen, or anything in between, there’s one thing that’s universally true: Cabinets can make or break the look of your kitchen, not to mention how functional it is.
But if you’re working on a kitchen remodel and you’re not willing to break your bank to get fresh cabinets installed, you’re not alone. Kitchen cabinets are expensive, and it can be difficult finding cheaper versions or even know where to start. While the hunt for cheaper kitchen cabinets isn’t easy, it’s not impossible—you can get a kitchen you love without cringing too much at the final bill.
What makes finding well-priced versions tough is the long list of factors. The kitchen cabinets you buy will depend on where you source them, the material they’re made of, where you live, how many cabinets you need, how big your kitchen is, and if you’re hiring expert help or not, just to name a few. It’s a lot! Here’s everything you need to know about buying cheap kitchen cabinets, broken down piece by piece.
The Basics of Kitchen Cabinets
According to Consumer Reports Kitchen Cabinet Buying Guide, basic, budget-friendly cabinets start at roughly $70 per foot, mid-range cabinets on average start at $150 per foot, and custom cabinets and higher-end styles start at $500 per foot. This, of course, varies on the brand, style, and materials they’re made of and how large your kitchen is.
To help you do some calculations, an average mid-sized kitchen is usually between 100 to 200 square feet. In general, new cabinets can run the gamut between $2,000 and $20,000 for an average 10 x 10-foot kitchen, according to Home Advisor.
So what helps bring the price down to make some kitchen cabinets cheaper than others? It comes down to a range of factors, all of which you should consider when making your cabinet selection.
Cabinets made of MDF, particle board, or other mixed synthetic materials are going to be much less expensive than lacquered cabinets or those made of solid wood or glass.
Big Box vs Custom
If you purchase mass-produced cabinets through large retailers like IKEA, it’ll usually be exponentially cheaper than paying to have custom cabinets made and installed.
Used vs New
Sourcing used cabinets will cost you a lot less than buying brand-new ones. There are quite a few resources for finding pre-owned versions, many of which will be specifically local to where you live. You can read more on that below.
If you have a choice of hardware pulls at the time you purchase your cabinets, be wary of what you select. Some cabinetry hardware can be cheap, starting at a couple of bucks per pull, whereas others can be $100 or more per piece (yes, you read that right, for one piece of hardware).
The difference comes down to both material — cast brass is a lot more expensive than, say, aluminum — and scale of production.
Hardware is something that’s easy to update later, so going budget upfront doesn’t mean you can’t go back and splurge later. (Luxe-looking hardware is also an effective way to dress up low-cost cabinets.)
Since they’re easier to produce, flat slab and even some Shaker cabinets can be on the lower end of the price scale, whereas styles like glass panel cabinets will cost you a hefty bit more.
Pre-Finished vs Unpainted
If you select cabinets that have not yet been painted, you’ll likely save money on DIYing this part of the process rather than buying ones that come fully finished. Painting kitchen cabinets is a project that even beginner DIYers can take on.
Quantity and Kitchen Size
No surprise here: How large your kitchen is and how many cabinets you’d like to have installed also make a big difference in the price you’ll pay.
Hiring expert help can be a catch-22. You’re paying for expert knowledge and labor, but it’s going to be much more expensive than installing them yourself. But, if you’re not confident in your reno abilities, leaving installation to the pros is usually a worthy investment.
Sources for New Cabinets
So, where are the best places to look for new, cheap kitchen countertops? Here are a few of our favorite sources.
IKEA and Other Ready-to-Assemble Cabinets
In a list of affordable home sources, you probably are not surprised to see IKEA high on the list. The Swedish retailer is known for its budget-friendly offerings, and its kitchen cabinet lines are no exception.
While they aren’t the only store doing ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets, they are one of the most well-known. You can shop IKEA kitchen cabinets online, but visiting in-store is smart, especially because you can speak with their employees about what you’re looking for and how to find it.
As for assembly, this is something you can hire a pro to do — but if you’re adept at reading IKEA instructions, it’s achievable on your own, too. (Just make sure to avoid these IKEA kitchen cabinet assembly mistakes.)
Local Cabinet Shops
If you’re spooked by the big box horror stories, don’t assume cabinet specialty shops are out of the question. They’re not cheap by any means, but don’t necessarily have to be wildly expensive.
I spoke with someone from a shop near my city, and as a super rough ballpark for the 12 linear feet of base cabinets and standard sized (6′ x 3′) island I’m looking for, he said I shouldn’t have to spend more than $15,000. That’s not cheap—but with average kitchen remodel costs around the country ranging from $13,000 to $37,000, according to HomeAdvisor, it’s not out of the ordinary, either.
Kraftmaid Cabinet Outlet
Both mysterious and confusing, the Kraftmaid Cabinet Outlet offers cabinets for surprisingly low discounted prices, but there are a few caveats. First of all, you have to travel to Warren, Ohio to get in on the deals — no online shopping available here.
The store doesn’t even have a website, so it’s much more of an adventure than a regular cabinet shopping trip. Kraftmaid Cabinet Outlet sales are held bi-weekly, and they’re not for the faint of heart. You’ll need to clearly understand what you’re looking for and what you want, but the heavy lifting is worth it. Many people have reported scoring an entirely new kitchen for $10,000 or less.
Artisan and Small Business Aggregators
Small business, artisan, and handmade-focused marketplaces like Etsy are another unexpected place to find kitchen cabinets, occasionally even custom-made versions that are much lower than usual. Even kitchen islands and hutches can be found here for reasonable prices.
Keep an eye out for returns, items from canceled orders, or discontinued styles, all of which offer an opportunity to snag a deal.
Sources for Used Cabinets
Buying kitchen cabinets used can be another smart way to save. If you’re looking to score cheap kitchen cabinets used, there are lots of places you can find amazing deals, as long as you’re willing to do a little more work up front!
Like most used items, kitchen cabinets can also be found on Craigslist’s wonderous black hole. While it’s smart to be cautious, many listings with great prices are worth investigating.
Often, people who post their cabinets on Craigslist are more worried about getting rid of them without incurring any costs rather than making any money from them. That means you can score cabinets for a song if you’re willing to load and transport them yourself — and, of course, if you are patient enough to scour listings until you find something.
If you have the means to transport cabinets between further distances, it’s worth looking in nearby towns and cities too.
Secondhand Shops and Secondhand Online Marketplaces
Cabinets can also be found in shops like Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and other local secondhand shops can offer a surprising amount of options for kitchen cabinets. Many of these shops will also donate a portion of sales to charities or help provide housing and other necessities to community members who need them, so you’ll be doing good, too.
If you prefer chilling from the comfort of your couch, newer to the game are secondhand sites like OfferUp, which allow users to post the furniture they’re trying to sell and get rid of so people like you—searching for things like kitchen cabinets—can snap them up.
Facebook Marketplace, Facebook Groups, and Local Free and For Sale Pages
Another newer way people find kitchen cabinets is through social channels like Facebook. Facebook Marketplace is an obvious starting point, but you can also find local groups dedicated to secondhand shopping. This is a great option if you’re not looking to go far for used cabinets. It allows you to stay local and save money on transportation and new cabinet costs. Just be prepared to install these yourself or hire out a contractor to get the job done for you.
It’s also worth joining your local Buy Nothing group and posting an ask for kitchen cabinets in case any members are offloading their own as part of a renovation. Patience is key here: If you’re working on a tight timeline, this might not be your best bet for sourcing kitchen cabinets. However, if you’re taking on a slow renovation, or simply hoping to renovate in the coming months, this can be a great way to score a deal.
Best of luck on all your kitchen cabinet endeavors, and remember that with a little extra digging, you won’t need to settle for prices that bust your wallet.