Cabinets can devour the bulk of a budget during a kitchen remodel. Because they are a major investment, sort through the available options and make choices with confidence.
If existing cabinets are of good quality, in excellent working condition and the layout functions well, the most affordable option is to simply paint or restain them. Another alternative, refacing, involves installing a new veneer on the exterior of the cabinet box and replacing the doors and drawer fronts, and should be handled by a professional.
If you decide to reface rather than replace cabinets, be forewarned: Doors and drawer fronts account for the greatest expense. “Sixty to 70 percent of the cost of the cabinet is the door,” says Jeff Cannata, past president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. “So, if you’re paying someone to put a new door on or a new drawer in ... it might be more affordable to purchase all-new cabinets.” And with new cabinets, there’s a bonus: the freedom to explore different kitchen layouts.
Once the decision has been made to install new cabinets, there are other choices ahead. Are custom cabinets required, or will stock cabinets fit the bill? Custom cabinets are built to exact specifications and offer endless design possibilities. This option requires the longest lead time and is the most expensive route.
Semicustom cabinets are just that: partially custom. While the cabinets are made to the homeowner’s size requirements, the manufacturer produces them in predetermined increments. The range of materials, designs, finishes and accessories available is not as broad as entirely custom cabinets, but semicustom cabinets cost less while allowing more flexibility than stock cabinets.
Stock cabinets, which are the least-expensive of new-cabinet options, are premade and come in standard sizes. Though stock cabinets often get a bad rap in terms of quality of construction, there are many on the market that are made of solid wood.