Flimsy shelves, chipping veneer, and awkward drawers are all signs it might be time to break up with your kitchen cabinets. Fortunately, today there are plenty of new cupboard options and styles in the sea—er, store. You just have to figure out what your type is.
To get the nitty-gritty details out of the way so you can get to the fun part (renovating) faster, we tapped Home Advisor’s expert, Dan DiClerico, for advice. “New cabinets are really the biggest ticket item for the majority of remodels,” he notes. Typically, the addition will account for a third of your total budget (although he notes in a lot of cases, it’s more than that). “You could spend $100,000 on new cabinets if you wanted to—some people even do,” says DiClerico. Take a deep breath: The average cost of replacing old cupboards with new ones is around $5,000.
Essentially, the range is so vast because your three main options to pick from—stock, semi-custom, and custom—are all very different. Find your potential match ahead, as DiClerico helps us break down the pros, cons, and costs of each.
Average cost: $100 to $300 per linear foot, for material and labor.
Pros: Synonymous with IKEA, this type of cupboard is premade and ready to hang on the wall when you get home, with the exception of flat package versions that will require some assembly on-site. In other words, they’re DIY-friendly. The cost is the main game changer here. With the average kitchen measuring 25 to 30 linear feet, this pick puts you in the $2,500 to $7,500 range.
Cons: The sizes of the frames will be limited to 3-inch increments (12-inch-wide, 15-inch-wide, etc.), and generally your only material option will be MDF (a step above particleboard).
Average cost: $150 to $650 per linear foot (or $4,000 to $14,000 total).
Pros: Your design possibilities are slightly more flexible in this category. You can opt to resize drawers, door fronts, and cabinet depth. Say you start with standard IKEA stock cabinets. You can then work with companies like Reform and Semihandmade to update the fronts and hardware so you get the look of a custom-designed space without paying a fortune.
Cons: The cupboards still won’t match the exact specifications of your kitchen, so you won’t get that coveted built-in look.
Average cost: $500 to $1,500 per linear foot.
Pros: Now you have full design freedom. Custom boxes can be anything you want, whether that’s traditional Shaker or clad in brass, and they will fit your walls down to the eighth of an inch. Don’t forget the bells and whistles like integrated lighting and pull-out trash cans. You will also have access to a range of solid woods, from oak to cherry to mahogany. (Beware: It’s the hardness of the wood and the detail in the grain that drives up material costs.)
Cons: This is the most expensive route as custom cabinets require a skilled carpenter. “I remember the sticker shock,” says DiClerico, who went bespoke in his Brooklyn brownstone, going so far as to turn the nook under the stairs into a pantry. “It’s crazy how quickly the price goes up, but I don’t regret it for a second.”
Other Ways to Save
Not in a spot where you can replace your old cabinets completely? Consider refacing or resurfacing them. The former involves removing the door fronts and hardware and replacing just those parts. It’s 30 to 50 percent cheaper than a full gut job, but DiClerico suggests only exploring this option if you already have nice custom cabinets that are just looking a bit dated or beat up.
The latter, resurfacing, gets you a brand-new look by simply sanding, staining, painting, and reinstalling the old fronts. It can save you up to 75 percent of the cost of replacement. When one door closes, another opens.
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