Kitchen cabinetry is a big investment—and is likely to get even more expensive in the year ahead.
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Like nearly everything else associated with home renovations and remodeling, the cost of kitchen cabinets increased in 2021 and will continue to trend upward in price over the coming year. At the same time, experts say that the sales and discounts on cabinetry that have historically been rolled out to entice buyers have been dramatically scaled back, if not altogether eliminated.

"The pandemic not only affected supply chains during its first year but now it is impacting labor forces within cabinet factories," says Joey Olson, owner and senior kitchen designer at The Kitchen Guru, a Chantilly, Virginia-based kitchen design company. "Most cabinet companies that make semi-custom and custom cabinets have had two to four price increases within the last two years to deal with rising costs. They've also reduced any sales or cabinet incentives such as free paint, upgrades to better construction, or discounts."

angled shot white kitchen gray graphic porcelain floor tile
Credit: John Bessler

So what does all of this mean for the cost of kitchen cabinets in 2022? Whether you're purchasing standard cabinets, semi-custom, or custom, be prepared to have an ample budget allocated for your project. While the price will vary slightly based on where you live and the size of your kitchen, replacing cabinets will be a significant investment.

Here's a look at the range of costs to purchase and install kitchen cabinets, and how you can achieve savings when possible.

Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom Cabinets—Know the Difference

If you're a new homeowner or you're new to the kitchen remodeling process, the fact that there are three types of kitchen cabinets, at three distinctly different price points, might be a new revelation. This is an important factor to understand as you embark on a kitchen remodeling effort because it can impact the finished look of your space and its long-term value.

Stock cabinets: These types of cabinets are sold ready-to-install at home centers and dealers as well as through ready-to-assemble online companies. Stock cabinets are considered to be cheap kitchen cabinets, though not in quality.

Semi-custom cabinets: Next up in price, semi-custom cabinetry is also factory-made in standard sizes, but you'll find more woods, finishes, and decorative features to fit your kitchen design. Widths range up to 60 inches. Options include pantry units, sliding shelves, and drawer inserts.

Custom cabinets: With the most options available, custom cabinetry is designed, built, and installed to fit your space. A professional kitchen designer will help establish an efficient layout. Exotic woods, ornate details, and period styles will add cost and delivery time but result in a one-of-a-kind kitchen.

Stock Cabinets

The most affordable of the three options, mass-produced stock kitchen cabinets can be purchased at big-box retailers such as The Home Depot and Lowe's.  

"Stock cabinets are usually readily available at a wide variety of stores. They either come pre-assembled or ready to assemble," says Andra DelMonico, lead interior designer for the Los Angeles-based home inspiration website Trendey. "There is a wide range of styles and designs, but ultimately, the options are limited and you're buying cabinets that will look exactly the same as everyone else who purchases them."

Prices for these types of cabinets range from $50 to $200 per linear foot. When factoring in labor, the cost increases to about $100 to $300 per linear foot for cabinets and installation, says DelMonico. 

Paul Klassen, founder and CEO of Calgary, Alberta-based Pinnacle Group Renovations, estimates the cost for stock cabinets from a domestic manufacturer for a small kitchen can be anywhere from $12,000 to $16,000.

"A lot of things come into play, however, such as ceiling height for example. Many cabinets are built at a seven-foot height, which leaves that area on top to be dusted. But we go right up to the ceiling, so that's more work and material," says Klassen.

The accessories added to a cabinet installation project will also impact the final price, says Klassen. Options such as pullouts for recycling bins or matching panels for appliances (which allow your appliances to blend in with the cabinets), will impact the final supply and installation price.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets offer a slightly nicer or higher-end choice than stock, and the price you'll pay for them reflects that reality. The cost can be anywhere from $75 to $400 per linear foot for the cabinets themselves or $200 to $500 per linear foot for the cabinets and the installation, says DelMonico.

"Semi-custom cabinets are a perfect compromise between budget and individuality," says DelMonico. "You'll find high-quality brands that offer a variety of customizable options. This blending of ready-made and customizable options means you can get your finished cabinets faster than full custom. It also means you can get a better-tailored fit for your kitchen than with stock cabinets that have limited dimensions." 

When working with a firm like Klassen's, the cost of semi-custom cabinetry (which is sourced from local makers instead of large manufacturers) is as much as 50% higher than standard cabinet purchase and installation. "You'll be in the high teens or low $20,000 range," says Klassen.  

Custom Cabinets

The word 'custom' should be a hint that this category of cabinets is the most expensive. When it comes to custom, the sky is the limit in terms of design possibilities and prices.

"Custom cabinets are the most expensive at $200 to $300 per linear square foot. Labor can also be more expensive because the custom approach requires more skill, resulting in costs of $50 to $200 per square foot," says DelMonico.

"Your options are limitless when it comes to custom cabinets. When you have a talented carpenter, they can bring any idea or whim to life," says DelMonico. "While there are some brands that will build your custom cabinets in a factory, the majority are built in a local workshop by a single craftsman. However, this level of service comes at a price. Your cabinets will be the most expensive and they will take time to build."

Consider Material Selection

There's a variety of ways to trim the cost of your kitchen cabinet project. To begin with, think carefully about the materials you choose, especially now while the cost of lumber continues to increase in price. "Some materials are harder to source, making them significantly more expensive right now than others," says DelMonico.

Given current market conditions, you might opt to paint your cabinets instead of completely replacing them. Or you could opt to simply integrate new cabinet doors, which can still transform the look of your cabinets.

"Another popular trend is to blend the open shelving look with cabinets. So try removing only a select few cabinets and replacing them with open shelves," continues DelMonico. This combines the two looks and gives you the best of both worlds. You have open shelves for display and closed cabinets for storage."

Wait for Sales

If you're not in a hurry and you're not set on purchasing high-end custom cabinets, you can try to catch a sale on stock or semi-custom cabinets at retailers like The Home Depot and Lowe's. "They have the best buying power, so they sometimes give promos to sell more, typically at the end of the month and holidays," says Olson, of The Kitchen Guru.

But keep in mind when going with The Home Depot or Lowe's that stock cabinets sold by these types of retailers are generally seven feet high. However, homeowners often need cabinets that are eight feet high or more. "If your wall is higher than that you either have to leave space to stack cabinets, which can look a little busy and can look bad with the wrong designer," says Olson.

Yet another trick of the trade that Olson employs to save money is using less expensive cabinets in one portion of an install and more expensive cabinets in other areas.

"I have done kitchens where I use a lower-end on the bottom and custom on top," explains Olson. "This saves thousands. Base cabinets in all brands have the same insides. A good designer will help you."

Plan Ahead and Don't Expect Prices to Decrease Soon

Given the supply chain challenges and labor issues that are impacting the country as a whole and the remodeling industry as well, experts say it's not likely that the steep prices for cabinets are going to decrease any time soon. Much like real estate itself, you can be fairly certain that the cost will only be more expensive in the future, says Todd Walker, CEO of Vermont Custom Cabinetry.

"Regarding pricing, cabinets are more than they were a year ago, but are less than they will be a year from now," says Walker, one of many experts who also advises planning well in advance if you have your heart set on an upgraded kitchen in the future.

"Shops and contractors are booked 12 to 18 months out now, so it's a good time to plan ahead and lock in your pricing as soon as you can," says Walker.

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