New Kitchen Cabinets: Part I - Money

A new kitchen cabinet can substantially improve the overall look of your kitchen. In addition, manufacturers have developed all sort of clever built-ins that can make better use of tight corners, and improve the usability of the space you have. However, choosing the right cabinet can be a daunting task. You need to sort through a multitude of brands, woods (and wood-like products), door styles, hardware and finishes -- and that's before we even start to talk about prices. To top it off, (although some homeowners install their cabinets themselves) most people hire a kitchen contractor to do the job.

As with any large project, a little planning can go a long way. This article begins by looking at the financial side of purchasing new kitchen cabinets.

Budgeting your new cabinets

Take a moment to place all four of your chair's feet on the ground before you continue reading. According to Remodeling Online, the national average cost for a midrange major kitchen remodeling job in 2004 was more than $42,000. (This sort of job would include new kitchen cabinets, laminate countertops, new sink, dishwasher, and much more.) And, on average, you would only recoup a little more then 79% of that cost if you sold your house.

By way of comparison, a minor rekitchen job from the same survey (which would include cabinet refacing, new countertops and energy efficient oven and stove) averaged a little more than $15,000 in 2004. And, on average, you could expect to recoup a bit more than 92% of that cost.

Now, a couple of caveats on those numbers.

  • They include much more than just kitchen cabinets
  • The price (and the amount recouped) varies dramatically by region
  • If you plan ahead and do some legwork, you can certainly bring those costs down

Begin with your budget. How much do you want to spend? If you only have a little money to spend you might want to think about refinishing or repainting your existing cabinets. If you're able and willing to do the work yourself, you can repaint your cabinets and add new hardware for a few hundred dollars.

As your budget increases, so do your options. (And frankly, so does the importance of planning.) Here are some questions to consider:

Why are you replacing your cabinets?

Does your kitchen seem dated? Are your cabinets in bad shape? Or do you just want to make better use of the space you have? What are your goals in getting a new kitchen cabinet? Write those down, and then return to that list before you sign with a contractor. Make sure that the cabinets you choose will meet your goals.

Do you have a preference for a particular material in your cabinets?

Are you determined to install quarter-sawn oak? Can you live with particle board? Your choice of materials will have a substantial impact on your overall cost. If you don't mind knowing that your cabinets are made of manufactured materials, you can save a substantial amount of money.

Can you do-it-yourself?

Skilled labor is always one of the most dramatic costs in any renovation. If you're handy (and you're willing to live with one or two of your cabinets being slightly off-kilter) you can save a lot of money by doing this job yourself. Just be sure that your spouse thinks the trade-off is worth it -- and make sure that you budget more time than you think you'll need.


If you've read this far, chances are that you're serious about replacing your cabinets. You also have a ballpark sense of what major and minor kitchen renovations can cost, and a few ideas on how to save money. If you want to jump right in and start calling kitchen renovation experts, take a look at our article on how to choose a kitchen contractor. Or feel free to browse through our list of kitchen cabinet brands. Otherwise, stay tuned for our next article on choosing the style of cabinet that matches your budget and your kitchen.

Continue to Part II >>