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Need Kitchen Cabinets...Help!

Hello everyone,
I'm doing a complete kitchen gut and remodel, and I need advice on kitchen cabinets. I have not been impressed with the quality of the products I've seen so far. My kitchen is not that big ( I only need about four 30" base cabinets and uppers, a few 15" base cabinets, a base corner unit, and a pantry unit), but the prices I have been quoted seem quite high ($9,000-$10,000), especially given the fact that many of these cabinets are made of particle board with only solid wood fronts. Even the shelves I've seen are only supported by pegs, not built in.

Is it now common to have to spend $20,000+ in order to get all-wood, quality cabinets, even for a relatively small space? Can anyone recommend a custom cabinet maker that is not completely out of my price range? I was hoping to spend less than $10,000 for all of the kitchen cabinets. And I would like to spend significantly less than that if I'm buying particle board.

Am I being unrealistic? Help!

In case it matters, I am in the Los Angeles area. But I am willing to do mail-order for a quality product from a company with good customer service.

Also, does anyone have any personal experience with Diamond cabinets?


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  1. Oh, and I would like to do white painted cabinets. I am finding that it is difficult to find white cabinets that are reasonably priced but don't look "cheap."

    4 Replies
    1. re: L.A.Hound

      be very careful on painted cabinets. jfood installed painteds 5 years ago and he has already had them reconditioned. every little bit of water from splashes at the sink find thoi\se little crevices and then the paint will bubble. refinishing is not only a chore but an unnecessary cost. after three kitchen guttings, jfood and mrs jfood would NEVER dopainted ever again.

      1. re: jfood

        Sounds like a poorly prepared original surface. My mother's painted cabinets are 40+ years old, only repainted three times in that time span. It is worth seeking out oil-based yachting paints if you are concerned about durability. Interlux, et al, make a wide variety of colors, and boat paint certainly stands up to water, oil, etc.

        1. re: Hungry Celeste

          oh for the beauty of 20-20 and hindsight. it never occured to the jfoods that this would be a problem but once these puppies were installed, what could you do? one assumes that in an industries that manufacturers custom kitchen cabinets, they would understand that water is an element that can not be avoided.

          so to the OP, jfood would suggest taking HC's advice (nice advice jfood might add) and perform additional due diligence on the paint quality.

          1. re: jfood

            I concur with jfood's advice and that of HC -- paint quality is important.

            I would also add that "all wood" is too generic a description. You could get cabinets made out of "all wood 3/8 plywood" that would be pretty crummy. A heavier grade of "particle board" or true cabinet quality MDF will be far superior. Hardwood cabinet grade plywood is not a cheap material, if that is what the $20000 cabinets are made of you are getting something that is top quality.
            If you are looking to get "solid wood" cabinets you don't want to waste money on pine for the "box" and you certainly don't want to throw money away for a quality hardwood that will perform worse than a more dimensionally stable alternative.

            Even custom cabinet makers do a very poor job matching the cabinet build quality / finishes to their intended use. The smart kitchen/bath designer ought to know that cabinets going in a laundry room or other "nightmare" location need to be VERY durable. I can't tell you how many "spec homes" I've seen that have "high dollar" cabinets right next to laundry tub that is inviting disaster...

    2. I used to design kitchens at a big box home improvement store (I won't name names), so I know a little bit about this subject, although I have been out of the loop for a couple of years. I would say that the *average* kitchen, just for cabinets, was usually between $8,000 and $10,000. This was usually middle of the line quality/ price range and usually smaller kitchens. Kitchens are expensive- there's just no way around it. Luckily, a lot of times, this pays off when you go to sell... even people that don't like to cook like to have a nice kitchen. What is going to cost the most money is specialty cabinets- cabinets with drawers are really expensive, corner cabinets are very expensive, and pantry cabinets are the worst of all. Any kind of attachments, i.e. lazy susans or spice racks are usually ridiculously priced. Also, hardware... I can't tell you how many times people would have me price out the hardware that came with the cabinets and they would pick hardware that was $20 a pop! Go to the hardware department and buy anywhere from 50 cents to $5.00 hardware- you're still going to save money. Other than that, I don't really have any recommendations for companies, been out of the loop too long for that.

      1. We have Diamond cabinets in our kitchen and are very happy with them. We used Preferred Cabinet in Lake Forest. See their website at http://www.preferredcabinets.com. You can describe your space and they can probably give you a quote for Diamond which you can use to compare to others (including a custom cabinet) or use them if they'll work in your L.A. location. We found them to be reasonably priced and honest and the work they did to install them was first-class.

        1. While I know nothing about LA, I know that you can get decent custom cabinetry (esp if you're looking for a paint-grade finish) in my area of the country at prices very competitive to high-end manufactured cabinets. If you want veneer, solid hardwood, or stain-grade hardwood exteriors, it will cost you a pretty penny...so going with a painted finish can indeed save some dough.

          1. "Kitchen cabinets" is the new phrase for "sticker shock!" It's extremely difficult to find anything that isn't custom made that doesn't have a whole lot of particle board in it. Two suggestions. Have you checked out Ikea? And maybe even better if you have the time, patience and inclination is to look for cabinets in those architectural salvage shops. At least you'll have a fighting chance at not finding something you like is half particle board!

            Oh! And if your area has a Habitat for Humanity salvage store, you can find some incredible things there at amazingly low prices. Good luck!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Caroline1


              Not trying to be nasty but if the Ikea cabinets are anything like their furniture, they are about as close to pressed paper as possible. The word crap comes to mind. jfood had many furniture thingies for the little jfoods as they grew up and could not even imaine this quality (or lack thereof) in the kitchen.

            2. We used Diamond cabinets in our last house and were very happy with them. They looked nice (we had the Cherry wood) and stayed nice for the 8 years we lived there.

              We just moved into a new custom built house where I did all the kitchen cabinets. Use Thomasville from Home Depot. Bought their middle line that uses both wood and MDF since we're in Florida and I though humidity might be a problem. Purchased 10 base cabinets plus a 27" deep double cabinet for the gas cooktop, 8 upper cabinets, a 36" pantry cabinet with sliding drawers, double oven cabinet, fridge cabinet, crown molding, toe board and whatever else for under $15K, delivered to the house. They are in maple, wheat color, beadboard doors and are lovely. The builder was very impressed by them.

              So, I think you can easily work within you budget. I know, it's HD, but, it's also their top of the line cabinet. Plus, they had a deal and I got all the pulls and knobs for free plus a $750 gift card.

              1. Lots of good advice in here. Avoid particle board. In the LA area MDF should be fine as high humidity is not an issue, but plywood boxes would be a nice upgrade (read $$$). when it comes to hardware one of the things worth looking at is "self closing" drawer hardware. Once you close the drawer to within about 1/2" the mechanism takes over and closes the drawer completely without slamming it shut. Again $$$. If you want white, I would consider white laminate, not paint. Much easier to maintain, much more consistent finish.

                If you want to get an idea of cost, go to one of the big box stores (home depot, lowes, whatever) and look at the cost of cabinets for one of their "models." It won't be an exact cost, but you will get a ballpark feeling of what range you are looking at for different levels of quality. But, yes, you will be in the $10,000 range. I recently worked on a home and for a good sized (12x14) kitchen with an island with custom cabinets, high quality hardware, and an expensive wood for the fronts the owners spent well over $50,000 just on the cabinets.

                1 Reply
                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  I have a friend who is buying her cabinets through Direct Buy. Don't know if they carry most popular brands, but she swears she is saving money.

                2. A friend of mine put in cabinets that she got at Ikea! And she's got the best-looking kitchen in the neighborhood. We all tried to talk her out of it and but she laughed all the way to the bank. Check them out online!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: southernitalian

                    I have done 4 kitchens with IKEA cabinetry, and have nothing but raves!!! They use one of the best European hardware components available. The quality is very good on the rest of the cabinet also. Great designs and HUGE savings. It is where I have steered any one asking about kitchens for the last 12 years!

                  2. My gut remodel starts next week. We are going with Cardell cabinets. Our Gc has several other gc's that he knows that say they offer a very high bang for the buck. Mid to low priced, well designed and will last as long as you want them.