When it comes time to remodel your kitchen or build a new home, one of the most important design decisions you’ll make is choosing your cabinetry. Kitchen cabinets set the tone for the whole space and account for a significant portion of the kitchen remodeling budget. With so many options on the market, selecting the right cabinetry can feel overwhelming. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through the pros, cons, costs, and considerations for the most popular kitchen cabinet options to help you make the best choice for your needs and style.
Cabinet Door Styles
The door style you choose for your kitchen cabinets makes the biggest impact on their appearance and your kitchen’s overall aesthetic. Consider the look you want to achieve as you explore these popular options:
Shaker-style cabinet doors have a simple, flat center panel and a square frame around the exterior. The clean lines and minimalist design of Shaker cabinets make them versatile enough to work with most kitchen designs from traditional to contemporary. They are a go-to choice for many homeowners because of their timeless appeal.
- Classic and timeless look
- Simple and understated
- Works with variety of decor styles
- Available in wide range of colors/finishes
- Lacks decorative details of other styles
- Not as ornate as some traditional or formal kitchens
Shaker style is a mid-range priced cabinet door that provides good value for a durable and versatile look. Expect to pay more for premium materials and finishes.
Slab cabinet doors live up to their name with a simple slab of wood as the door front, lacking any kind of frame. The clean, smooth look highlights the natural beauty of the wood grain. Slab door styles include slab, plain, flat panel, and full access.
- Streamlined contemporary vibe
- Showcases natural wood grains
- Easier to clean due to smooth surfaces
- Full access cabinets maximize storage space
- Lack of detail for more ornate kitchens
- Limited color/finish options relative to framed cabinets
- Less insulating than framed door styles
Slab cabinet doors are one of the more expensive options due to the higher quality wood and craftsmanship required. Expect to pay a premium for slab door style.
Raised or recessed panel doors have a center panel that sits back inside the frame, creating dimension and depth. The more ornate frame profiles and molded edges give raised panel cabinets a formal, decorative look perfect for traditional styled kitchens.
- Beautiful depth and dimension
- Timeless traditional style
- Wide variety of frame profiles/edge details
- Formal, elegant aesthetic
- More ornate look not suited to all decor
- Reveals more visible grout lines between cabinets
- Increased detailing raises cost
The intricate framing and handcrafted detail make raised panel kitchen cabinets one of the more expensive door styles. Expect high quality and higher prices.
Beaded panel cabinet doors have a recessed center panel like raised panel, but with the addition of a decorative cut or “bead” running along the inner edge of the frame. This extra detail makes beaded panel cabinets more ornate and upscale.
- Unique detailed and upscale look
- Decorative beaded detailing
- Excellent choice for formal, ornate kitchens
- Available in array of stains/finishes
- Higher cost due to detail work
- Intricate styling not suited to all kitchens
The specialized beaded cuts increase the cost of these decorative doors. Beaded panel cabinets fall on the high end of door style prices.
Kitchen cabinets come constructed from different materials, each with their own aesthetic, functional, and cost factors. Consider how cabinet materials align with your priorities:
Wood remains the most popular choice of cabinet materials for its attractive look, durability, and utility. From oak to maple to hickory to Cherry, wood brings warmth along with natural beauty.
- Timeless, classic material
- Wide variety of wood species
- Can be stained, painted, or natural
- Durable and scratch-resistant
- More susceptible to water damage
- Can warp or expand/contract
- Higher upfront cost than some materials
Wood cabinets range from moderately priced to high end. Expect to pay more for thicker wood construction and premium stains and finishes.
Laminate kitchen cabinets have a vinyl wrap fused to a wood substrate base. The laminate provides a protective finish that resists scratches, moisture, and wear-and-tear.
- Budget-friendly option
- Huge array of colors and patterns
- Resilient finish resists scratches
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Prone to chipping along edges
- Does not stain or paint like real wood
- Shorter lifespan than real wood
Laminate cabinetry provides an affordable alternative to real wood. Laminate’s lower cost makes it popular for rental properties and DIY installations.
Similar to laminate cabinets, Thermofoil finishes fuse a vinyl skin to a wood base via heat activation versus bonding adhesive. The vinyl wrap provides a durable, water-resistant finish.
- More seamless wrap than laminate
- Resists chipping/peeling from edges
- Impervious to moisture
- Budget-friendly pricing
- Limited color/finish options
- Cannot stain or re-paint
- Shorter lifespan than wood
Thermofoil cabinets cost a bit more than laminate but remain budget-friendly. Ideal for kitchens focused on utility and cost.
While less common than wood, metal kitchen cabinets provide a sleek, modern look along with serious durability. Stainless steel, galvanized steel, and aluminum are typical options.
- Ultra-durable and dent-resistant
- Sleek, contemporary aesthetic
- Easy to sanitize and clean
- More environmentally friendly
- Limited color/finish choices compared to wood
- Higher upfront cost than laminates
- Susceptible to scratches over time
Expect to pay premium prices for metal kitchen cabinets, which offset their exceptional longevity and low maintenance.
The way kitchen cabinets are constructed impacts their structural integrity, lifespan, and cost. Let’s look at popular framework options:
Stock cabinets come in preset sizes and configurations. They typically assemble via simple joining methods like nails/staples, glue, and splines. Stock cabinets are the most affordable and widely available cabinetry.
- Lowest pricing of cabinet options
- Quick availability
- Standard sizes fit most spaces
- Easy DIY installation
- Limited customization capabilities
- Less durable long-term than custom cabinets
- Prone to loosening over time
Inexpensive yet decent quality stock cabinets are ideal for tight budgets. They provide good value if sized appropriately for your kitchen layout.
Semi-custom cabinets modify stock design with customized sizing, storage options, and finish selections. Robust joining methods like dovetail joints enhance durability.
- Balances customization and affordability
- Flexible sizing adapts to more kitchens
- Durable, high-quality construction
- Greater variety than stock cabinets
- Limited to manufacturer’s offerings
- Higher cost than stock cabinets
- Longer production time than stock
Semi-custom cabinets offer more bang for your buck if you want the look of custom without the high price tag.
Fully customized cabinets provide the highest level of personalization from unique designs to premium materials to custom colors and finishes. Strong joining with dovetails, mortise and tenon, etc create heirloom quality.
- Fully customized look, style, sizes
- Higher-end materials available
- Unique options like built-ins and inserts
- Highest quality construction/joinery
- Longest production/wait times
- Much higher cost than stock or semi-custom
- Overkill for some kitchen scopes
Custom cabinetry makes sense for luxury, high-end kitchen remodels where budget is not the priority. Expect the highest quality and price.
Specialty Storage Solutions
Beyond standard drawers and shelves, today’s kitchen cabinetry incorporates specialty storage solutions to optimize your unique space and workflow. Consider integrating one or more of these organizational tools:
Pull-out pantry cabinetry maximizes hard-to-reach storage space with easy access pull-out bins for everything from baking sheets to spices to canned goods. No more crawling and rummaging!
Lazy Susan rotating trays provide full access to corner cabinet spaces. Great for storing awkward items and keeping items easily reachable in blind corner spots.
Multi-level roll out drawers maintain items neatly organized and separated while maximizing cabinet drawer space vertically. Perfect for utensils, cutting boards, or pots and pans.
Wastebasket Cabinet Integration
Hide unsightly trash bins by integrating them into cabinetry. Cabinet-contained wastebaskets keep trash out of sight and streamline clean up.
Appliance garage cabinets let you seamlessly tuck small appliances like stand mixers and food processors out of sight to free up counter space. Roll up door lifts up for access.
Knife Block Integration
Integrate wood knife blocks directly into cabinetry to keep cooking knives organized yet easily accessible while freeing up workspace on the counter.
Interior metal or wood tray dividers organize contents and prevent sliding around or tipping within drawers. Great for utensils, spices, or bathroom toiletries.
Upper wall cabinets can incorporate pull-down shelving that lowers items closer to reach. Retract shelving when not in use to save space.
By integrating clever storage solutions that suit your space and cooking style, your new kitchen cabinets can maximize their utility and organization. Any of the above specialty options can transform the way you cook and use your kitchen.
To Sum Up Key Decision Factors:
- Kitchen style and aesthetic: Match classic Shaker, sleek contemporary slab, traditional raised panel, etc to your desired look
- Quality of construction: Consider longevity, durability, framework, and joinery methods
- Specialty features: Incorporate storage solutions for maximum organization
- Budget: Weigh factors above against project costs and budget considerations
While the perfect kitchen cabinetry varies for every home cook, keeping these factors in mind will help you select cabinetry tailored to your needs, preferences, and budget. Define priorities like style, budget, and versatility upfront to guide you in the right direction. And don’t be afraid to mix and match door fronts, materials, storage solutions and other options to create your ideal custom look. With proper planning and the cabinet expertise of kitchen remodeling professionals, you can install beautiful, functional cabinetry that enhances your enjoyment of cooking for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Cabinet Options
Kitchen cabinet selection elicits many questions for homeowners undergoing kitchen remodels. Here we answer some of the most common queries around cabinet materials, installation, costs, and customization.
What are the most popular kitchen cabinet colors?
White kitchen cabinets remain the most popular cabinet color by far, chosen for nearly 50% of kitchen cabinet installations. Off-white, grey, beige, and brown cabinet colors also rank among the top choices for their classic, neutral appeal.
What cabinet color makes a small kitchen look bigger?
Lighter colored cabinets like white, off-white, light grey and beige make a small kitchen appear more open and spacious. Darker cabinets tend to make small kitchen spaces feel more closed in.
How much do custom kitchen cabinets cost?
Fully customized cabinetry costs $800-$2000 per linear cabinet foot installed. Semi-custom cabinets cost $350-800 per linear foot installed. Stock cabinets range from $100-350 per linear foot.
Should I assemble kitchen cabinets myself or pay for installation?
Unless you’re very handy, it’s usually worth paying the roughly 10-15% installation cost to have professionals assemble and mount cabinets properly. Mistakes during DIY assembly/installation can cause bigger issues down the road.
What brands make the highest quality kitchen cabinets?
Top cabinet brands based on quality ratings from builders and homeowners include Wellborn, Canyon Creek, Kemper, Decora, Diamond, Kraftmaid, Bellmont, and Top Knobs.
How do I clean wood kitchen cabinets?
Use a mix of mild dish soap and warm water applied with a soft cloth. For deeper cleaning, add 1/4 cup white vinegar to cut grease. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scouring pads which can scratch surfaces.
Should I get matching cabinet hardware?
Matching cabinet hardware creates a unified, upscale look. Mixing hardware finishes can look disjointed. For budget savings, splurge on visible pieces like knobs and scrimp on less visible hinges.
How long should kitchen cabinets last?
With proper care and maintenance, quality wood cabinets should last 50 years or longer. Thermofoil and laminate cabinets last around 20-30 years. Poor quality construction shortens cabinet lifespan.
Can you paint thermofoil cabinets?
You cannot effectively paint over thermofoil cabinet finishes. The vinyl coating prevents paint from properly adhering. Refinishing thermofoil requires replacing doors/drawers or hiring a cabinet reconstruction company.
When making big investment in new kitchen cabinets, arm yourself with information to minimize doubts and buyer’s remorse. We hope these cabinet insights provide a useful starting point to craft your dream kitchen.
Choosing the perfect kitchen cabinets is an exciting part of home renovation and can make a dramatic impact on your kitchen’s form and function. With a dizzying array of materials, styles, storage solutions and configuration options available, the possibilities are endless. Defining your priorities for style, budget, quality and customization will help guide you to cabinetry suited to your unique taste and lifestyle. Do your homework, examine cabinets in person, ask architects and designers for input, and don’t rush into a decision. With careful selection of attractive, durable and well-constructed cabinetry customized around your needs, you can enjoy a beautiful, efficient kitchen for decades to come.