Ready-made kitchen cabinets offer a convenient and affordable way to remodel your kitchen. With a wide variety of styles, finishes, and configuration options available, ready-made cabinets allow you to customize your kitchen design without the high cost of fully custom cabinetry. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about purchasing, installing, and living with ready-made kitchen cabinets.

What are Ready-Made Kitchen Cabinets?

Ready-made kitchen cabinets are pre-manufactured cabinet boxes and doors that can be purchased off the shelf or ordered through a kitchen design showroom. They come in standard sizes and configurations that can be mixed and matched to fit your kitchen layout. Here are some key things to know about ready-made cabinets:

  • Mass Produced – Ready-made cabinets are mass produced in factories in standard sizes. This makes them more affordable than custom cabinets that are built specifically for your kitchen.
  • Modular Design -Cabinets come in standard widths, heights, and depths that can be combined in different ways for a custom look.
  • Stock and Semi-Custom – Stock cabinets are pre-assembled with set door styles and configurations. Semi-custom offers more options to choose from.
  • Quick Installation – Because cabinets come pre-assembled, they can be installed more quickly than custom cabinets.
  • Affordable Pricing – Prices range from $50 – $200 per linear foot, making ready-made cabinets an attractive option for budget-conscious homeowners.

Benefits of Choosing Ready-Made Cabinets

There are many benefits that make ready-made cabinets a smart choice for many homeowners:

  • Cost Savings – Ready-made cabinets are roughly half the cost of full custom cabinetry, providing big savings on your remodel budget.
  • Quick Installation – Pre-assembled cabinets can be installed in a fraction of the time it takes to build and install custom cabinets from scratch.
  • Wide Variety of Options – From door styles to finishes to storage options, there are many ways to customize stock cabinets to suit your unique taste.
  • Ease of Replacement – If cabinets become damaged or worn out down the road, ready-made cabinets are easy to replace without having to commission custom work.
  • Resale Value – Kitchen updates with ready-made cabinets recoup over 80% of their cost in increased home value, making them a smart investment.

Types of Ready-Made Cabinets

There are two main types of ready-made kitchen cabinets available: stock and semi-custom.

Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets are fully pre-assembled with set dimensions and options. Here are the key features of stock ready-made kitchen cabinets:

  • Very affordable, starting around $80 – $150 per linear foot
  • Limited selection of door styles, colors, and configurations
  • Preset 3” increments for width may limit layout options
  • Quick DIY installation with pre-drilled cabinet boxes
  • Ideal if you’re on a tight budget or have a simple kitchen layout

Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets offer more flexibility to tailor your kitchen design. Features include:

  • Wider range of styles, finishes, storage options
  • Customized widths available, beyond just 3” increments
  • Door styles can mix and match within kitchen
  • More customizable accessories like roll outs, spice racks etc.
  • Higher price point, averaging $125 – $250 per linear foot
  • Great option balancing customization and budget

Ready-Made Cabinet Door Styles

One of the biggest aesthetic considerations is choosing the door style for your ready-made kitchen cabinets. Here are some of the most popular door styles to consider:

Slab Cabinet Doors

  • Feature a simple, flat panel design
  • Can have decorative edges like recessed panels or profiling
  • Easy to clean and modern look
  • Affordable option for a sleek, minimalist design

Shaker Cabinet Doors

  • Characterized by a center recessed rectangular panel
  • Four-piece construction with simple lines
  • Timeless style suits a range of kitchen designs
  • Painted shaker cabinets are an enduring trend

Raised Panel Cabinet Doors

  • Have a central raised panel that sits higher than the frame
  • Traditional style with rich, dimensional detailing
  • Works well with formal kitchen aesthetics
  • Can have decorative molding details
  • A good match for traditional, old world, or farmhouse styles

Beaded Inset Cabinet Doors

  • Door sits within cabinet faceframe for seamless look
  • Decorative carved grooves (beading) surround raised center panel
  • Antique appearance fits cottage, country, or traditional decor
  • Traditional mortise and tenon joinery construction
  • One of the most ornate ready-made cabinet door options

Ready-Made Cabinet Materials

Ready-made cabinets are constructed from the same kinds of materials used for full custom cabinets. Choosing the right materials for your cabinets, doors, and hardware impacts aesthetics, durability, ease of cleaning, and overall cost.

Wood Cabinet Materials

  • Plywood – Made from layers of wood glued together. Strong and inexpensive but prone to swelling and warping.
  • Particleboard – Engineered wood product made from wood particles. Vulnerable to damage from moisture but can be stabilized with laminate. Most affordable cabinet material.
  • MDF – Medium density fiberboard has consistent density. Takes paint and stain well. Won’t warp but vulnerable to damage from moisture.
  • Solid Wood – Made from solid wood boards. Most expensive option but very durable and resistant to warping. Requires specialty joinery.

Popular Kitchen Cabinet Wood Types:

  • Oak – Dense, durable wood with prominent grains. Ranges from light to dark shades.
  • Maple – Hardwood with fine, straight grain. Light color works well for painting.
  • Cherry – Ages beautifully over time, darkening to a rich reddish-brown. Smooth grain pattern.
  • Hickory – Known for its rustic bold grain. Hardness makes it very durable.
  • Alder – Affordable softwood with light tan color. Takes stain and paint well. Environmentally friendly choice.
  • Birch – Strong, affordable pale hardwood. Takes stains and paint evenly.

Non-Wood Cabinet Materials

Beyond traditional wood, ready-made cabinets can also be constructed from:

  • Laminate – Durable, water-resistant material bonded to particleboard or MDF. Easily customizable look.
  • Thermofoil – Thin plastic laminate applied with heat + pressure. Seamless finish ideal for moisture resistance.
  • Metal – Used for modern, industrial look. Aluminum or stainless steel common choices. Durable but noisy.
  • Glass – Adds lightweight openness. Often used for wall cabinets or as door inserts.

Cabinet Construction Quality

The quality of materials and engineering greatly impacts the durability, functionality and cost of ready-made cabinets. Be sure to inspect cabinet box construction, joinery methods, and hardware closely.

Ready-Made Cabinet Box Construction

The cabinet box houses shelves and determines structural strength. Look for:

  • Plywood sides – More stable than particleboard, less prone to sagging over time.
  • Doweled cabinet joinery – Dowel pins reinforce the corners better than just glue or staples.
  • Dovetail drawers – Dovetail joinery is very strong for supporting heavy contents in drawers.
  • Drawer glides – Side-mounted glides enable smooth drawer access. Look for soft-close functionality.

Cabinet Door Construction

Well-made doors align properly and resist warping. Consider:

  • Mortise and tenon joinery – Traditional interlocking joinery creates sturdy door style with clean lines. Marks of quality craftsmanship.
  • Solid wood frames – More dimensionally stable than MDF or particleboard.
  • Panel Float – Unattached center panel can expand/contract without distortion. Marks quality door construction.

Cabinet Hardware

Hardware makes a big impact on functionality and styling. Seek out:

  • Full extension drawer glides – Allow full drawer access through smooth sliding motion. Look for soft-close feature.
  • Adjustable shelves – Shelves that adjust easily with multiple height options maximize storage flexibility.
  • Self-closing hinges – Gently close doors and prevent slamming. Great for kitchens with kids.

Ready-Made Cabinet Finishes

There are a variety of color, stain, and paint options to customize the final look of your ready-made cabinets. Consider how finish options coordinate with your kitchen’s flooring, backsplash, countertops and overall decor.

Stained Cabinets

Stain allows the natural wood grain to show through while altering the color. Consider:

  • Test stain samples on scraps first to preview color results
  • Gel stains offer richer color saturation than liquid stains
  • Darker stains can minimize the appearance of nicks and scratches over time
  • Distressed stains purposefully create a worn, aged look
  • Plan for extra time/cost of sanding if changing stain colors

Painted Cabinets

Painted cabinets provide limitless color options. Keep in mind:

  • Primers formulated for cabinets provide maximum adhesion
  • Multiple thin coats create a smoother finish than one thick coat
  • Satin or semi-gloss finishes are easy to wipe clean
  • Darker colors show fewer smudges and fingerprints
  • Distressed paint recreates a timeworn look intentionally
  • Chalk paints skip need for sanding but require protective topcoat

Glazed Cabinets

Glazing adds a sheer extra color layer on top of stain or paint:

  • Glaze antiquing creates an irregular aged look
  • Contrasting glaze over stain/paint pops detailing
  • Matching glaze over stain/paint adds depth
  • Multiple glaze colors can create blended patina effect
  • Glazing kits simplify achieving the technique at home

Laminate Finishes

Laminate sheets fused to cabinet boxes offer vast options:

  • Match any color imaginable, even metallics
  • Coordinate perfectly with countertop laminates
  • Gloss, matte, and textured looks available
  • Seamless surface is very moisture resistant
  • Affordable way to get an updated look

Configuring Your Ready-Made Cabinets

One of the biggest advantages of ready-made cabinets is the ability to customize your layout while working with standard cabinet sizes and accessories. Careful planning and intelligent use of filler pieces helps you maximize the use of space.

Utilizing Fillers and Valances

Fillers and valances allow you to fine tune fit:

  • Fillers customize fit between corner and standard cabinets
  • Valances adjust for small gaps between cabinets and ceilings/walls
  • Can be finished to match or contrast cabinets
  • Take care to calculate filler dimensions precisely

Combining Cabinet Depths

Varying cabinet depths add dimension:

  • Deeper lower cabinets expand storage capacity
  • Shallower wall cabinets keep visual lines open
  • Combine depths for ergonomic function and style
  • Allow proper clearance for cabinet doors to open fully

Using a Planning Grid

Map out configurations with a planning grid:

  • Sketch cabinets scaled to size on grid paper
  • Indicate doors, drawers, and measurements
  • Visualize different layouts before finalizing
  • Helps you order cabinets accurately the first time

Incorporating Specialty Storage

Specialized storage adds function:

  • Lazy susans maximize corner access
  • Roll out trays and shelves simplify access to back areas
  • Drawer dividers organize utensils and cooking tools
  • Spice racks, tray dividers, and pull out baskets save you time

Choosing Countertops

Factor countertop weight and thickness:

  • Check manufacturer specs for overhang limits by material
  • Allow for thicker countertops by adjusting base cabinet height
  • Consider installing separate support brackets under long overhangs

Shopping for Ready-Made Cabinets

Ready-made cabinets are sold through home improvement stores, kitchen design showrooms, and online retailers. Follow these tips for smart shopping:

Buy All Cabinets from One Manufacturer

Mixing and matching can lead to issues:

  • Inconsistent finishes if stained onsite
  • Mismatched cabinet depths cause alignment problems
  • Different quality standards become noticeable
  • Limiting to one brand simplifies installation

Order Everything You Need Upfront

Avoid mid-project shortages:

  • Order all cabinets, hardware, fillers, and accessories together
  • Double check you’ve accounted for every cabinet and drawer
  • Factor in specialty pull outs, dividers and other storage items

Read Reviews Closely

Focus on fit and finish feedback:

  • Look for complaints about warping, sagging doors
  • Watch for finish inconsistencies, particularly with staining
  • Durability of finishes over time is important
  • Installation challenges suggest lower quality

Examine Displays Critically

Inspect display models closely:

  • Open and close doors and drawers. Check for binding issues.
  • Are shelves sturdy? Is hardware solid feeling?
  • Are finishes blotchy or uneven anywhere?
  • Do edges and trim attach tightly?

Ask About Return Policy

Understand options if issues arise:

  • Are you able to return cabinets after installation?
  • Who pays for return shipping for online ordered cabinets?
  • Are you responsible for repackaging cabinets a certain way?
  • Is there a restocking fee? Get refund details in writing.

Installing Ready-Made Cabinets

Installation is a factor not only in your total cost, but also how well your ready-made cabinets perform over the long term.

Hiring a Contractor

Pro installation has advantages:

  • No need to rent tools or develop DIY skills
  • Trained installers work faster with proper techniques
  • Experienced installers can spot and address any fit issues
  • Licensed pros may provide limited warranty on their work

DIY Installation Considerations

DIY installation can save substantially but requires:

  • Carefully following manufacturer’s installation instructions
  • Having an assistant for the heavy lifting
  • Allowing plenty of time to learn techniques and complete the work
  • Renting or buying necessary tools if you don’t already own them

Key Installation Steps

Proper installation impacts durability:

  • Plumb and level the cabinet bases for even alignment
  • Use shims spaced no more than 8” apart to level wall cabinets
  • Pre-drill holes for screws to prevent splitting wood
  • Use appropriate screws for different types of cabinets materials
  • Alternate direction of door hinges for even spacing and alignment

Living with Ready-Made Cabinets

Follow proper care and maintenance habits to get the most out of your ready-made kitchen cabinets’ beauty and function.

Day to Day Care Tips

Treat cabinets with care to maintain finish:

  • Wipe up spills promptly to avoid stains and damage
  • Use cabinet door bumpers to prevent knob damage during impact
  • Open and close doors gently to avoid slamming and loosening joinery
  • Avoid excessive moisture near cabinets to prevent warping

Addressing Nicks and Scratches

Touch up finishes to minimize visible damage:

  • Use matching wood putty to fill superficial scratches
  • Sand and reapply matching paint to conceal painted cabinet scratches
  • For deeper damage, replace doors and side panels as needed

Maintaining and Cleaning Cabinets

Regular cleaning keeps cabinets looking their best:

  • Use cabinet cleaners and waxes formulated for your cabinet finish
  • Clean wooden cabinets along the wood grain only
  • Use mild dish soap and water to clean grease and dirt from cabinet doors and surfaces
  • Rotate frequently used items to front to evenly distribute wear
  • Dust cabinet tops and outside surfaces frequently
  • Vacuum out cabinet interiors regularly to remove dust and crumbs

Ready-Made Cabinet Costs

Here are the typical price ranges you can expect for ready-made kitchen cabinets:

  • Economy Stock Cabinets – $70 – $130 per linear foot
  • Mid-Range Stock Cabinets – $100 – $200 per linear foot
  • Semi-Custom Cabinets – $125 – $275 per linear foot
  • Installing Ready-Made Cabinets – $100 – $200 per linear foot
  • Refinishing/Modifying Existing Cabinets – $2,000 – $4,500 average total cost

As you budget for your remodel, remember to factor in costs for design help, the cabinetry itself, required new appliances, installation labor, countertops, flooring, backsplashes, plumbing and electrical work needed, and any specialty storage accessories. Planning your storage needs carefully can help you avoid unnecessary expenses on cabinets you won’t fully utilize.

Ready-Made Cabinet FAQs

Are ready-made cabinets a good choice for my kitchen remodel?

For most homeowners, ready-made cabinets offer the best combination of reasonable cost, good durability, ease of installation, and variety of style options. The wide range of customization possible makes them suitable for most kitchen layouts and design tastes.

How long do ready-made cabinets last in the kitchen?

With proper installation and care, you can expect roughly 15-20 years of life from midpriced, decent quality ready-made cabinets before needing replacement. Opting for plywood construction and solid wood doors extends durability.

Can I mix and match ready-made cabinets from different manufacturers?

It’s best to buy all cabinets for your kitchen from the same