Transform your kitchen on a budget with recycled kitchen cabinets. Repurposing and reusing cabinets is an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to give your kitchen a new look without breaking the bank. Here is everything you need to know about using recycled cabinets for your next kitchen remodel or upgrade.

Benefits of Using Recycled Kitchen Cabinets

Recycled cabinets offer many advantages over buying new:

  • Save Money: Recycled cabinets are significantly cheaper than new cabinetry. You can find quality used cabinets at a fraction of the cost.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Reusing cabinets keeps them out of landfills and reduces demand for new materials. It’s a greener, more sustainable option.
  • Unique Look: Recycled cabinets add character and vintage appeal to your kitchen. You can find unique styles and finishes not available with new mass-produced cabinets.
  • High Quality: Solid wood vintage cabinets are often higher quality than new particle board options. With some TLC, they can last for decades.
  • Support Local Businesses: Many recycled building supply stores source cabinets locally. You support small businesses in your community.

Where to Find Used Kitchen Cabinets

You can find recycled kitchen cabinets in several places:

  • Habitat for Humanity ReStores: ReStores often have a wide selection of recycled cabinets in various styles and conditions at reasonable prices.
  • Salvage Yards: Check local salvage yards and architectural salvage companies. Let them know what you’re looking for.
  • Classified Listings: Search classified ads online and in local papers for people selling or giving away cabinets.
  • Auctions: Look for estate sales, foreclosure auctions, or government surplus auctions with used kitchen cabinets.
  • Online Marketplaces: Sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay Classifieds can connect you with local cabinet sellers.

Evaluating the Condition of Used Cabinets

When buying recycled cabinets, carefully inspect them for:

  • Structural Damage: Look for broken joints, rotting wood, splits, cracks, or water damage. Reject if badly damaged.
  • Drawers and Doors: Test that doors and drawers open/close properly and fit squarely. Examine hinges and slides.
  • Interior Surfaces: Check for scratches, gouges, peeling laminate, or mold/mildew. Cosmetic issues can be fixed.
  • Hardware: Make sure all hinges, knobs, pulls, tracks, shelves are intact and operational. Replace missing pieces.
  • Modifications: Determine if cabinets have been modified from their original size. This can complicate installation.
  • Odor/Bugs: Sniff for musty smells or traces of pests. Odors may dissipate with cleaning. Treat any pests.

Preparing Used Cabinets for Installation

Once you’ve acquired your recycled cabinets, take these steps to prep them for installation:

  • Clean Thoroughly: Wash grime and grease off all surfaces with a degreasing cleaner. Disinfect to kill germs.
  • Repair Damage: Use wood filler to patch holes, gouges, or cracked joints. Sand and refinish repaired areas.
  • Replace Hardware: Upgrade old hinges, pulls, and knobs to give cabinets a fresh new look.
  • Apply New Finish: Sand, prime, and paint or stain cabinets to refresh the color and finish.
  • Adjust or Fill Holes: Modify cabinet boxes or panels to fit your kitchen layout. Fill old hardware holes.
  • Add New Interiors: Install new cabinet interiors, shelving, drawer glides, and other functional parts.

Tips for Installing Recycled Cabinets

Follow these best practices when installing recycled kitchen cabinets:

  • Create a detailed layout plan for your kitchen prior to installation. Carefully map everything out.
  • Ensure bases are level and walls/floors are square before starting. Address any issues.

-Modify cabinet boxes and filler panels as needed to fit your specific space.

  • Use shims liberally to plumb and level wall cabinets during hanging.
  • Carefully join cabinet sections together and anchor to wall studs securely.
  • Caulk and seal all joints, gaps, and openings to prevent moisture and pests.
  • Add molding, trim, and decorative details to conceal irregularities or gaps.
  • Take your time to ensure proper alignment, spacing, and functionality. Don’t rush the process.

Giving Recycled Cabinets a Stylish Makeover

With some creativity, you can make used kitchen cabinets look like new:

  • Refresh the Finish: Apply a new coat of paint, glaze, stain, or varnish. Distressed or two-tone finishes are on-trend.
  • Swap Hardware: Replace old knobs and pulls with newer stainless steel, brass, or glass styles.
  • Add Molding Details: Install crown molding, light rails, or trimwork to update the look.
  • Upgrade Countertops: Quartz, granite, or butcher block counters paired with recycled cabinets create a striking combo.
  • Add Glass Cabinet Doors: Insert glass into existing doors or replace with new glass-front doors for an open, airy vibe.
  • DIY Special Effects: Try techniques like faux finishing, textured paint, chalk paint, or gel stains. Get creative!
  • Display Collections: Make open shelves to showcase cookbooks, dishes, or glassware. Add lights for drama.

With recycled cabinets, you can have a completely custom, environmentally-friendly kitchen on a budget you can afford. It just takes some vision, effort, and TLC to transform discarded cabinets into a beautiful focal point of your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of recycled kitchen cabinets I can find?

You can find all varieties of recycled cabinets – from traditional oak or maple to modern white thermofoil to retro metal cabinets. Common types include unfinished stock cabinets, custom painted or stained cabinets, vintage 1950s-1970s styles, shaker, inframe, overlay, inset, and more.

How much do recycled kitchen cabinets cost compared to new?

On average, you can expect to pay 50-75% less for good quality recycled vs. new cabinets. For example, used stock cabinets often cost $50-100 per linear foot compared to $200-300+ for new custom cabinets. Prices vary widely based on type, condition, and source.

Are there safety concerns when buying used cabinets?

Inspect thoroughly for splinters, nails, and hardware issues that could cause injuries. Check for signs of mold or pest infestation. Wear gloves, eye protection, and a mask when handling, and address any hazards prior to installation. With proper inspection and handling, used cabinets are generally quite safe.

What’s the best way to clean or disinfect old cabinets?

Use a multi-surface cleaner combined with warm water to clean soiled areas. For disinfecting and removing odors, wipe down all interior surfaces with a non-abrasive cleaner containing bleach. Let the bleach solution sit before rinsing and drying thoroughly.

Can I change the layout or size of recycled cabinets?

With some woodworking skill, you can alter recycled cabinets by removing walls or sections to resize frames and doors. You can also swap doors and reconfigure layouts. However, modifications require time and the right tools. Hire a carpenter for complex changes.

How long should recycled kitchen cabinets last?

With proper prep, installation, and care, high-quality solid wood recycled cabinets can easily last 30+ years in a kitchen. Even vintage cabinets from the 1950s-1980s may have another 20+ years of life left if well-maintained and refinished. Durability depends on wood type, condition, and usage.


With recycled kitchen cabinets, you can redo your kitchen in an eco-conscious and budget-friendly way. Take time to carefully source quality used cabinets, prep them for installation, and add your own stylish touches. With clever reuse of building materials, you help reduce waste while giving your home unique character and charm. The recycled cabinet trend is here to stay, offering endless possibilities for creative and determined DIYers.