Installing new kitchen cabinets can completely transform the look and feel of your kitchen. With so many options on the market, from ready-to-assemble to custom built, choosing new cabinets may feel overwhelming. But with some planning and research, you can select the perfect cabinets for your kitchen’s size, layout, and style. Here is an in-depth guide to everything you need to know about choosing and installing new kitchen cabinets.

Types of Kitchen Cabinets

Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets are pre-assembled and available in standard sizes. They are the most affordable option but offer limited customization. Stock cabinets come in a range of styles and finishes, making it easier to find something that matches your kitchen’s aesthetic. The downside is that stock cabinet sizes may not fit perfectly in your existing kitchen layout.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets provide more flexibility in sizes and design than stock cabinets. You can customize the door style, finishes, and organizational features. Semi-custom cabinets are ordered from a manufacturer, then built to your specifications. This option balances customization with affordability.

Custom Cabinets

Fully customized cabinets are built specifically for your kitchen’s unique measurements and layout. Custom cabinets offer full personalization of sizes, materials, door styles, finishes, and storage solutions. While the most expensive option, custom cabinets ensure a perfect fit and match to your personal style.

Popular Cabinet Door Styles

The door style you choose dramatically impacts the look and feel of new kitchen cabinets. Consider the architectural style of your home and your personal tastes when selecting cabinet doors.

Shaker Style

Classic shaker style cabinet doors feature a square center panel and a sturdy frame. This versatile style works well in both modern and traditional kitchens. Shaker cabinets have a timeless, clean-lined look.

Slab Style

Slab cabinet doors have a simple, sleek design with no inset paneling or framing. The minimalist style is perfect for contemporary kitchens. Slab cabinetry makes a bold statement with beautiful wood grain patterns.

Raised Panel

Raised panel doors have a framed center panel that sits higher than the surrounding stiles and rails. The dimensional look offers a formal, elegant aesthetic, ideal for traditional home styles. Decorative raised panels come in a variety of patterns.

Selecting Cabinet Materials

Kitchen cabinets are commonly crafted from wood, metal, or thermofoil. Consider the pros and cons of each material based on your budget, kitchen use, and style preferences.

Wood Cabinets

Wood is the most popular choice of cabinet material due to its beauty and durability. Oak, maple, and hickory are common woods used for their strength, scratch resistance, and timeless grain patterns. Unfinished wood allows for custom stain colors.

Metal Cabinets

Metal kitchen cabinets provide a sleek, contemporary look. Stainless steel and aluminum are the most common metals, chosen for their modern aesthetic. Metal cabinets are durable, low maintenance, and easy to clean. However, they tend to show fingerprints.

Thermofoil Cabinets

Thermofoil cabinets feature a laminate shell adhered to a particleboard or MDF core. The durable laminate resists scratches, stains, and moisture damage. Thermofoil provides affordable style with a wide array of color and finish options. However, chipping can expose the substrate over time.

Key Cabinet Measurements

Carefully measuring your existing kitchen is crucial for ordering cabinets that fit properly with minimal gaps or awkward alignments. These key measurements will help guide your cabinet selection and placement:

  • Floor to ceiling height
  • Width of cabinet run including corners
  • Depth of existing base cabinets
  • Placement of windows, doors, and appliances
  • Ceiling soffits or changes in ceiling height

Have an experienced kitchen designer help translate your measurements into a detailed cabinet plan. They can ensure all the necessary cabinets are accounted for.

Installation Process

Installing new kitchen cabinets requires careful planning, patience, and attention to detail. Doing it yourself is possible for the committed DIYer. Hiring a professional offsets hassles and ensures proper installation.

The process typically involves:

  • Removing old cabinets and preparing the space
  • Assembling cabinets and adding custom features
  • Securing cabinets to wall studs or hanging rail
  • Leveling and adjusting for proper alignment
  • Adding trim, panels, and molding for finished look

The whole process often takes 2-5 days. Having an extra set of skilled hands speeds up installation time.

Cost Factors

Several factors determine the overall investment for new kitchen cabinets:

  • Type of cabinets: Custom, semi-custom, and stock
  • Door style and materials such as wood species or metal type
  • Number of cabinets and organizational accessories needed
  • Specialty storage solutions like pull-out shelves or lazy susans
  • Countertop and sink selection
  • Appliance upgrades like integrated fridges or range hoods
  • Lighting fixtures and under-cabinet lighting
  • Hardware such as knobs, pulls, and hinges
  • Delivery fees
  • Professional installation costs

Expect to spend $100 – $300 per linear cabinet foot, depending on materials and customization. Luxury custom cabinets with integrated smart features can exceed $1000 per linear foot.

New Kitchen Cabinet Trends

Two-Toned Cabinets

Mixing and matching wood stains on upper and lower cabinets creates stylish contrast. The two-toned look adds modern character to traditional cabinetry.

Open Shelving

Open shelves replace upper cabinets entirely for a lighter, airier aesthetic. Visible dishware adds pops of color, while eliminating the need for upper cabinet storage.

Matte Black Hardware

Replacing dated brass and silver knobs with matte black pulls and handles is an easy upgrade. Matte black hardware makes a dramatic impact against light cabinets.

Wood Flooring

Hardwood floors are gaining popularity for whole-kitchen flooring. Wood adds warmth and complements natural cabinet finishes. Just be mindful of potential water splashes.

Smart Cabinets

From fingerprint scanners to auto-opening drawers, kitchens are getting smarter. Integrating cabinets with innovative tech features enhances convenience.


The choices involved in selecting new kitchen cabinets may seem endless. But thinking through your priorities for style, budget, and functionality helps narrow your options. Taking exact measurements and finding an experienced kitchen designer are wise first steps. Investing in customized, quality cabinets can make your kitchen both beautiful and user-friendly for years to come. With some thoughtful planning upfront, you can install cabinets that refresh and enhance your home’s most important space.