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Jan 25, 2007 10:30 AM

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!

Also, I want white painted cabinets, and I'm finding it difficult to find reasonably priced ones that don't look "cheap."

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. I don't live in your area but go for custom cabinets. They are well worth the expense. The detail work in custom cabinets shows and will add value. I'm a Realtor and see a lot of kitchens and you can always pick out the custom work from stock stuff.

    1. As a matter of fact, we selected Diamond cabinets when we did a total remodel 7 years ago. Have been very happy with them. LIke you, small kitchen. 7 base cabinets plus a corner cabinet with a lazy susan in it. One upper cabinet has a microwave shelf which sure saves counter space. We have two double upper cabinets with glass doors, look great.

      One hint, be sure you get "contractor pricing" on the cabinets, it makes all the difference in the world, probably half of what you might be quoted. You might have to have a contractor but it's worth it, saved us thousands.

      1. rtmonty,
        Thanks for the info! Just a couple of questions about Diamond. Did the inside of your cabinets have little holes running down the sides? (they are for adjusting the height of the shelves) I really don't like the way it looks, and I also want glass doors on the uppers, so I'll have to see them all the time.

        Also, did you get drawers in your base cabinets, or simply shelves? Are the drawers worth the extra money, if you got those? And is the hardware of good quality?

        I've been looking at very basic cabinets, "easy reach" shelving (no drawers, etc.), and I'm wondering if I should think about "upgrading." Any advice?

        Thanks again!

        2 Replies
        1. re: L.A.Hound

          The cabinets do have the holes, it makes the shelving adjustable which we happen to like. Really have never found it distracting and to be honest, don't even notice it. It came in very handy on one little lower corner cabiner where I put the KitchenAid mixer. If I hadn't been able to adjust the height of the shelf it would have never fit.

          One lower cabinet has two slide out "drawers". We use it for pans and it makes it easy to get to them without having to take stuff out. Again, roll very easily and handle the weight just fine. We keep cast iron skillets and grills in one and it still rolls just fine, very smooth.

          We have under cabinet lighting which is great also but you do have to purchase an extra piece to put on the bottom of the cabinet to hide it. Ours our cherry and have aged great, after 8 years still look like new. It's a brand I would certainly look at again if (heaven forbid) we ever get bit by the remodeling bug again.

          1. re: L.A.Hound

            You could get patterned glass in those glass uppers then you won't see the holes NOR will you have to keep everything super tidy. It will still open up the space and give a nice implression. We went with the 'reeded' pattern and love it.

          2. Yes, it's common to spend $20K on even a small kitchen, especially if you're looking for solid wood cabinetry in addition to custom.

            Wood is expensive - since you're looking for solid wood, they'll have to use furniture grade plywood/laminated planks for the cabinet sides. This stuff is not cheap - especially in the USA, where wood is not plentiful. If you choose a wood like mahogany, walnut or cherry (classic American hardwoods), make sure you're holding onto something secure when they quote you prices.

            Woodworkers are also expensive. Since you're going custom, the work is done on site. A person will come to your place and build the cabinets from scratch right there. He/she will make top-quality dovetailed drawers with ribs. They will also be stained right on site. Structurally, the cabinets will last a lifetime. It's also all the stuff you don't see that adds up. This costs money.

            You'll also probably need a decorator to help you design the kitchen, and even a general contractor to ensure that everything is to code.

            Keep in mind that you'll have total control - your choice of wood, you can make the cabinets any depth and height you like, you can choose any type of handles or knobs, you can choose any type of stain, you can configure the shelving any way you want, etc.

            Don't forget things like the backsplash and countertops.

            I'm actually not a huge fan of 100% solid wood cabinets - MDF seems to keep straighter and doesn't crack like plywood/laminated can.

            1. MDF is a sponge for water, as is particle board. if you mop heavily or spill something really wet, there is always the chance of the water soaking into the cut edge, which will be in contact with the floor, and bubbling the wood and laminate. MDF is very structurally stable, because it has no grain to make it warp, but you have to be sure that the edges are sealed or painted.
              There are fiberboard products that are used in some laminate flooring that are waterproof, but I am not sure if they are used to make cabinets. As I am sure you are finding, a lot of cabinet manufacturers offer pricing "levels", pay more, get plywood cabinet boxes, pay more, get interiors that match the outside of the cabinet, instead of one generic blond "wood" laminate. If you are getting glass fronts, you are probably already getting this option.
              I have to say, even though the holes may not be the most attractive thing, I would guess that permanently setting the height of your shelves seems like a mistake. You never know what you are going to want to put into the cabinets in the future. you get a tall set of wine glasses, and you need to move the shelves, you get a new appliance, you need to move the shelves.
              You can get estimates from custom builders, but custom is always way more expensive than factory built, in every kind of manufacturing. Economies of scale come into it. just stay away from the home depots of the world, and you should be able to find something of decent quality. If you can afford custom, then consider it, but if you have a budget, and a fairly standard project, it makes the most sense to try and find a manufacturer that you like, and buy from their stock. Get a variety of kitchen and interior magazines, and source things from there. The end product is unlikely to be so much different, but the price should be much better. Do a lot of research, ask friends, and friends of friends, look at a lot of stuff, and of course find carpenters and installers that you trust. Good luck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mpls brat

                No matter what wood the cabinets are made, they should be caulked properly to prevent water intrusion. It's not like plywood or solid wood don't warp either when wet.