How To Buy Kitchen Cabinets For Your Home [Renovation Guide]

This article may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Privacy Policy.

Now more than ever, homeowners are seeking to create a kitchen that feels like the heart of the home. If this quest leads you to contemplate a kitchen remodel, you will discover that of all elements you consider updating, your choice of kitchen cabinets will have the most influence on both style and function. It is also the kitchen renovation element that will approximate 40% of your budget, so careful consideration of your kitchen cabinetry purchase is well-warranted. Here are some factors you should consider before finalizing your home improvement choices.

Stock versus Custom

Stock cabinets are premade in standard sizes and limited styles and finishes. They are also available at the lowest price point. Retailers like Home Depot sell them pre-assembled, and stores such as IKEA offer them “ready to assemble” or RTA. You can frequently find these types of cabinets in stock at the store, or they can be shipped to you in a relatively short time frame. Many DIY kitchen remodels are done with stock cabinets, and if your layout is standard without the need for adjustments, it can be a very cost-effective solution.

Custom cabinets are built entirely to your specifications and custom-fitted to your kitchen. They also allow you to include configurations that suit your cooking needs and family lifestyle. Cabinets that are custom designed will demand the highest price point and require the longest lead time, and they are available in a wide choice of finishes, styles and colors. They are also the most quality-conscious choice, so if your remodel is for your “forever home,” or you want to enjoy your redesigned kitchen for many years to come, this option is worthy of consideration. Sources for custom cabinetry often include working with local cabinet makers as well as purchasing through kitchen and bath design showrooms, and purchases are usually made under the direction of a professional kitchen designer.

Semi-custom cabinets can provide extra details and are a significant upgrade from stock cabinets. If your kitchen design does not accommodate standard cabinet sizes or you want to include some unique features, this is an excellent avenue to explore. The price point for semi-custom cabinetry is mid-range, and the lead time can be between four to eight weeks. Semi-custom cabinets are available at Lowe’s and Home Depot, and you can work with an in-house kitchen designer to develop your layout. Although they are not entirely custom, the cabinet manufacturer will build your kitchen cabinets as a custom-order within one of their primary cabinet lines. Utilizing semi-custom cabinetry can be exceptionally cost-effective and create a beautifully finished environment.

Related: How Often Should You Replace Your Kitchen Appliances? 


Carpenter working on new kitchen cabinets

If you choose custom or semi-custom cabinetry with a kitchen designer’s help, part of your planning process will include a professional measurement of your space and a detailed design plan. Custom cabinetry can be configured with incredible accuracy through computer-assisted cutting tools, and the installers can modify semi-custom cabinets to fit your space.

If you are installing stock cabinets yourself, being accurate with your measurements is essential before purchasing the cabinets.

Related: Replacing Windows On Your Home [Get Started the Right Way] 


When determining your kitchen cabinet layout, consider how your kitchen is used. Are you a frequent baker? If so, you will want to make sure to include space for your baking sheets, muffin tins, cake pans, as well as your stand mixer. If you do a lot of cooking with your partner or kids, your cabinet layout should be designed to accommodate more than one cook in the kitchen at a time. Consider whether your kitchen is used for preparing large family meals, intimate dinners for two or just for yourself. The differences in these lifestyles might lead you to different cabinet configurations.

When planning the cabinet layout, consider where you will store daily dishware and glasses (usually close to your dishwasher), what space you want for pots and pans, and where you will keep your appliances.

It is worth it to include upgrades such as soft-close doors and drawers and pull-out inserts. For small and mid-size items, drawers have a more significant function than cabinets, as they allow easy access to your items and more efficient use of space.

Related: 16 Tips On Making Your Kitchen More Kid Friendly [And Safe]  

Cabinet Structure


Cabinets can be framed or frameless. A framed cabinet box has a frame around the front where the doors attach. A frameless cabinet has a thicker box, and the doors are connected to the inside compartment. Frameless cabinetry is considered to provide greater access to the interior by fractional amounts for each cabinet, and those bits of inches can add up to more space when installing a wall of cabinets. Frameless cabinets accommodate a wide range of styles, including classic door fronts, but they are often used in conjunction with sleek European design. However, frameless cabinets may require more attention to installation, particularly if your floor or walls are uneven.

A popular style of framed cabinets includes inset cabinets, which replicate old-style custom cabinetry and work well in traditional or classic kitchens. In this style, the drawers and doors are set to flush within the cabinet frame, which creates a furniture-like appearance. This style is standard in British kitchen designs.

Cabinet doors and drawers that completely cover the cabinets’ faces are referred to as a full overlay. This is a common approach for frameless cabinets, but it can also be used on framed cabinets.

The partial overlay door style sits on top of the cabinet frame with a gap. This choice was common for American kitchens in years past. Now, most designers steer away from the style. However, it’s the only style that allows you to open doors and drawers without hardware, and sometimes there are cost savings when using the partial overlay compared to inset and full overlay (which require highly accurate door and drawer measurements for a snug fit).

Related:  How To Remove Outdated Wallpaper [5 Simple Tips And Tricks]

Cabinet Quality Indicators

No matter what price point or design style you choose, it is essential for your cabinets to have quality features that will enhance looks, functionality and durability for years of wear and tear to come. Consider the following items when making your choice:

  • Cabinet material: Cabinets with plywood sides and backs are better quality or more high-end than those made of particleboard, such as MDF. Plywood holds screws more securely, resists sagging and resists moisture.
  • Hinges: Look for adjustable, 6-way, soft-close hinges.
  • Drawers: Check for corners that are dovetail instead of staple or glue, with undermount supports so that the drawers can support greater weight and soft-close drawer glides.
  • Back panels: Ask about full-height panels made of plywood versus a thinner material or metal hang rails. The lack of strong rear panels is a common cause of cabinet collapse.
  • Interior surface: Cabinets with a melamine interior coating will be easier to keep clean. Look for adjustable shelves with secure, quality supports.
  • Toe kick: Base cabinets should be supported with a plywood toe kick versus an open cabinet bottom with plastic or metal feet.
  • Warranty: Find out which type of warranty is available for your cabinetry and whether it’s a lifetime or short-term warranty. You will want to protect your significant investment.

Style Considerations


Once you’ve chosen your brand of cabinets and cabinet maker, you can begin the fun part of your remodel: choosing the color, finish and style. These all boil down to personal preference and home design style, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Overly detailed cabinetry designs may overwhelm a small space and make it appear cluttered. Color choices are best directed towards neutral tones because your cabinets are expected to last for many years, and you may tire of a particular color. Stained wood cabinets go in and out of style, depending on the color and type of wood, and your best choices may be to opt for a classic finish that is neither too light nor too dark in a durable wood species such as maple or cherry that does not have a strong grain. Certain cabinet surfaces are challenging to keep free of kitchen grease, which may affect your cabinets’ beauty over time. Dark colors may be bold and dramatic, but if not appropriately sealed or finished, be prone to chipping. Ask lots of questions regarding durability in order to make sure that your style decisions are ones that you will enjoy over time.

Remember that your cabinets do not “stand-alone” and consider your existing or planned flooring materials, countertop selections and room colors to evaluate the complete picture.

Related: 6 Of The Best Stainless Steel Cookware Sets [Shopping Guide] 

Where to Purchase Cabinets

Where to purchase your cabinets depends on the type of cabinets you are seeking, your budget, DIY ability and the style options you desire.

A few stores and online retailers worth considering include:

In addition, be sure to check your local cabinet shops and kitchen design showrooms for additional selections.

Related: 11 Tips For First-Time Homebuyers [From 10 Experts] 

Enjoy Your Dream Kitchen for Years to Come


An attractive kitchen remodel does wonders for both the beauty and functionality of your home. An updated kitchen accelerates a home sale and can provide a return on your remodeling investment. Selecting a cabinet style that will enhance your home’s features can make a significant design statement that takes a home from ordinary to extraordinary. Quality cabinet and finish choices will create a warm, inviting kitchen that you and your entire family can enjoy for years to come.

You might also be interested in: 8 Red Flags To Look For When Buying A Home [Complete Guide] 

Patrice Devereaux

view post

More from Home category

Share Tweet Share Email