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9 Ways to Save Money on Kitchen Cabinets

Buying kitchen cabinets on a budget? Choosing prefabricated over custom is a good starting point, but the savings don’t have to stop there. Sometimes it’s all about the wood species you pick or the number of drawers you include in your design. Best of all, you won’t always have to sacrifice decorative details. Here are nine money-saving tips for buying cabinets.
1. Compare Door Styles

You’ll probably have a specific door style in mind before you head to your local cabinet shop, but if your goal is to save money, it’s best to select two or three options and compare the cost. Door styles can make a dramatic difference in the price of your cabinets.

Raised panel and inset door styles will almost always cost more. Oftentimes Shaker-style doors cost less, but that isn’t always the case. It can vary based on the cabinet manufacturer.
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Slab door fronts are normally less expensive across the board, which is a perfect fit for thrifty homeowners designing a modern or contemporary kitchen.

2. Replace Wall Cabinets With Open Shelving

Shelves will do wonders for your bank account. Yes, you’re sacrificing storage space. Yes, they’re more maintenance. However, you’re definitely not sacrificing your retirement funds. Standard wall cabinets can account for several thousand dollars of your total cost. The price difference is nothing short of dramatic.

3. Choose an Affordable Wood Species

The right wood species can shave several hundred dollars off your total cost. Oak is almost always affordable. Hickory, shown here on the bottom cabinets, is normally an upgrade from oak.

Though many homeowners are drawn to it, cherry is usually expensive. Species such as maple can hike up the price tag by hundreds of dollars. You’ll probably want to keep shopping if you’re trying to cut costs. Ultimately, wood species price will be determined by the cabinet manufacturer. Ask your local cabinet shop about the most affordable species.

4. Consider Thermofoil or Laminate

You don’t always have to go with an all-plywood construction. Thermofoil and laminate are both excellent budget-friendly options.

Thermofoil is a type of plastic finish applied to a medium-density fiberboard or other type of engineered wood core. It’s durable and easy to clean, and costs significantly less than wood. Laminate is likewise much less expensive than wood. It generally holds up well over time, though it isn’t as strong as wood. It’s more susceptible to moisture as well.

There are a few considerations to make if you decide to buy thermofoil or laminate cabinets. You will need to place delamination heat shields near your range. You may also want an all-plywood sink base or a sink mat for extra protection against moisture.

As a bonus, you can use the extra savings from laminate and thermofoil to add details to your cabinetry, including crown molding, corbels and a decorative door style.

5. Do Without Soft-Close Drawers and Full-Extension Slides

Sacrificing common upgrades like soft-close drawers and full-extension slides can save you several hundred bucks (perhaps even more). Remember that they’re just perks — they aren’t required to get a functional or good-looking design.

If you’re concerned about wear and tear, try door pulls instead. They can be a much more affordable option that can help preserve the integrity of your door and drawer fronts.

6. Say No to Pullouts

You’ve got to decide whether the added convenience is worth the expense or not. Any type of pullout, be it a trash bin, sliding shelves or miracle corner, will drive up the bill. Plan to place your trash bin somewhere else, such as a pantry or at the end of your island. Stick to standard blind corners and base cabinets without the bells and whistles.

7. Customize Less

You may be tired of hearing it, but it’s true: The fewer details you choose, the less you’ll pay. Corbels, decorative legs, matching end panels, glass door fronts, crown molding and more are surprisingly costly. These customized options are a surefire way to increase the cost.

This doesn’t mean you have to go without any sort of decorative touch, though. Just be strategic about it. Splurge on crown molding and save somewhere else. Add a few decorative legs and cut back on the pullouts. Bottom line: You can add some detail and find other ways to save.

8. Don’t Add a Glaze to Your Paint or Stain

A glaze is tempting since the small detail goes a long way in shaping the aesthetics of your cabinets. However, a glaze adds significant cost to kitchen cabinets. Since it’s more of a want than a need, don’t hesitate to take it off the table.

9. Opt for More Doors, Fewer Drawers

So you’re in love with a raised panel door style, and you want a clean-looking wood species like maple. There’s good news: Saving money isn’t a totally lost cause. To offset the extra costs that these two selections bring, include fewer drawers in your design. Drawer bases cost more than standard base cabinets, hands down. You can save up to several hundred dollars per cabinet piece.