Our Complete Guide to Kitchen Cabinets

Here's everything you need to know about kitchen cabinet types, materials, styles, and costs.

Kitchen cabinets are an essential part of any kitchen, providing storage for utensils, dishware, small appliances, and more. With the right finishes and hardware, cabinets can add a personalized touch to an ordinary space. Available in stock, semi-custom, and custom categories, cabinets dictate the look and feel of your kitchen. But achieving the cabinets of your dreams can take time and elbow grease. Materials and installation costs are just two of the determining factors of what will best fit your dream kitchen. Use our guide to kitchen cabinet types to help determine the best option for your space.

black kitchen cabinetry

Edmund Barr

Common Types of Cabinets

There are three main kitchen cabinet types, outlined below.

Custom Cabinets

These cabinets are durable and long-lasting. They’re easy to love, as they can be made in odd shapes, allowing you to take advantage of all your kitchen corners, nooks, and crannies. They provide endless storage opportunities and can be made to look high-end. While you get exactly what you want from a custom cabinet builder, you'll also pay top dollar for it. Custom materials vary based on quality and availability, but custom cabinets come with the highest ticket price on labor.

kitchen with dark green cabinets
Werner Straube

Semi-Custom Cabinets

With semi-custom cabinets, you can request custom features or change specific dimensions. This type of cabinet is more affordable in comparison to custom cabinets, but the nature of the customization may be more limited. This is a great option for cabinet refacing, in which just the doors get an upgrade but the existing box and shelving remain unchanged.

Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets are pre-made, one-size-fits-all. They are the most affordable cabinet type, but generally less durable. Typically made with particle board, stock cabinets degrade over time. Stock materials cost just a few hundred dollars per unit, but they may need to be replaced sooner than higher-priced alternatives. These are a good choice for homes where you don’t plan to stay for long or areas where leaks and humidity are known to rot even the best cabinet materials.

kitchen with gas stovetop
Joyelle West

Common Kitchen Cabinet Designs and Styles

There are four basic categories of kitchen cabinets: base, wall or upper, tall, and specialty units customized for unconventional spaces. Additionally, these are the common cabinet styles:

Shaker Cabinets

This type of cabinet has simple lines and recessed-panel doors, which make them easy to clean and personalize. This timeless cabinet design is popular for kitchen remodels. Shaker cabinets are available in various materials and colors and are compatible with almost every design style.

Slab Cabinets

This type of cabinet is also called flat-front or panel-front cabinetry. This simple style consists of single-board doors without frames, panels, or decorations. Slab cabinets are excellent for a minimalist style. Spruce them up with a unique paint color or statement handles.

Beadboard Cabinets

Beadboard cabinet doors have vertical panels with uniform beads and recessed lines. They are an excellent choice to add traditional, cottage, or farmhouse style to your kitchen design. The decorative vertical slats on the cabinet fronts might not be the best choice for a minimalist home, but the sleek design adds character to most kitchen styles. Beadboard cabinets add texture and are available in a wide variety of widths.

Raised-Panel Cabinets

These traditional cabinets have raised center panels. The three-dimensional structure of the cabinet door is compatible with any interior design style. Raised-panel cabinets integrate seamlessly into any kitchen design and are easy to maintain.

white kitchen with mixed metal finishes and hardware
Adam Albright Photography, Inc.

Tips for Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinet Price

Cabinet installation costs are measured by the linear foot. However, fees will vary based on cabinet size, materials, craftsmanship, and style. Other factors that affect the price of cabinets include labor, hardware, removal and replacements, number of cabinets, trim, and molding. According to Home Guide, the average cost to install kitchen cabinets is $160 and $380 per linear foot for stock and semi-custom styles. This amount can go up to $1,000 per linear foot for custom cabinets. Labor costs for installing cabinets vary between $80 and $190 per cabinet.

Cabinet Materials

Common cabinet materials include hardwood, multi-density fiberboard, particleboard, wood veneer, and stainless steel. Standard cabinet doors and drawer fronts are typically made of plywood, vinyl films, aluminum frames, or hardwood. Even laminate or Thermofoil appeal as inexpensive options.

Each cabinet material has a different installation process and timeline. These days, popular materials can be hard to find, further delaying the time it takes to get the job done. When ordering cabinets, be sure to measure the exact space to be covered. And if erring on the side of caution, order extra boxes that can later be trimmed to size.

renovated kitchen with patterned rug
David Land

What to Consider Before Buying Kitchen Cabinets

New cabinetry can be quite an investment, but installing cabinets is usually not a DIY project. Between proper sizing, mounting, and hardware, there are lots of little ways that cabinets can be ruined by small lapses. When in doubt, seek the help of an experienced professional. To keep costs low, opt for replacing and refinishing cabinet doors rather than the entire cabinet box. Often, a new stain or coat of paint on cabinets will make the entire kitchen feel brand new.

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