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April 30, 2013

“Why is there a wide disparity in pricing for cabinetry?”

If you have decided to undertake a kitchen remodeling project, you have most likely already noticed that there are an abundance of choices for kitchen cabinets. While a quick trip to a kitchen design showroom may help you with the aesthetic choices, a more thorough study will be helpful to discern the true value in cabinetry choices. We are often asked for a price based on a lineal foot calculation. Prices can vary greatly, from $150 per foot on the low end on up to $700-$800 and beyond. What is the difference from the low end to the high end? There are many. While comparing cabinetry prices per foot can be like comparing car prices by the pound, it can be a useful exercise to establish a starting point.

To begin, cabinetry with the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association) seal of approval are separated into three categories: Stock, semi-custom and full custom. Stock cabinetry is the least expensive and has the fewest choices in door styles, finishes and options. Semi-custom broadens your selections to include additional wood species, premium finishes and better construction materials and methods. Full custom manufacturers are just that: Full Custom. Essentially at this level there are few (if any) limitations; these cabinets are produced to the highest quality, with premium selections available.

So what level will you choose? During our initial consultations with clients, one of the first things discussed is a priority list. What is the reason for the kitchen (or bathroom remodeling) project? Do you want to change the design/floor plan? Do you have exposed hinges circa 1972 and want to update the look of the kitchen? Whatever the reason, one of the main components of your renovation will be the cabinetry choices.

Semi-custom manufacturers offer additional wood choices; Alder, Cherry and Birch are options; many door style choices, and many finish options including several antiquing methods. Typically at this level, plywood end panels are standard, as are solid maple dovetailed drawer boxes along with premium full-extension, soft close drawer guides. Often there are many options as far as configurations available in the Semi custom level; changes to height, width and depth. Molding choices are somewhat limited as are the choice of accessories. Warranties vary from 5 or 10 years to Limited Lifetime.At the stock level, you should expect limited choices of wood species (Oak or Maple); limited door styles, perhaps as few as four; and limited finishes. Standard construction would be particle board end panels and plywood drawer boxes. Some stock manufacturers offer solid maple dovetailed drawer boxes as an option. Warranties are usually 3-5 years. A typical example of stock cabinets is shown at the right.

Full custom is the most expensive and offers the best quality components and fittings, nearly unlimited combinations of door style, finishes and exotic woods (bamboo or anigre…how about zebrawood?). Premium construction methods and materials are a given at this price point. Molding choices and accessories at this level are plentiful as are available modifications. If we can draw it, they can build it. At this level you are limited only by your imagination (or that of your designers). Lifetime warranties are assumed. An example below shows that With full custom cabinetry, sky’s the limit as far as color and design.

No matter your choice, be sure to explore all of your options with the help of your designer. Remember, this kitchen or bath renovation project will be the last in this space for a long, long time.

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