Cheap Kitchen Cabinet Buying & Installation Guide: Best Affordable Options

By HomeAdvisor

Updated February 18, 2021

woman in kitchen opening cabinets

The most affordable kitchen cabinets start around $30 per linear foot, with minimal features. It’s cheaper to choose standard sizes, like 24 or 30 inch wide. Custom options take more work, so they can be expensive. Pull-out shelves and drawers cost the most, so you may want to limit them if you have a strict budget.

There isn’t a big difference in value between $30 and $100 per linear foot. Bargain kitchen cabinets tend to have a thinner frame and shelving, which means they can bow or sag under pressure. If you plan to store heavy tools or appliances, opt for thicker panels made of plywood.

On This Page:

  1. Cheap Kitchen Cabinets
    1. Disadvantages of Low-Priced Kitchen Cabinets
  2. What Are Some Cheap Kitchen Cabinet Options?
    1. Wood veneer
    2. Plywood
    3. Laminate
    4. MDF
  3. The Best Place to Buy Cheap Kitchen Cabinets
    1. Where to Buy Cheap Kitchen Cabinets
  4. Cheap Kitchen Cabinet Installation and Replacement
  5. When Is the Best Time to Buy Cheap Kitchen Cabinets?
  6. Hiring Affordable Kitchen Cabinet Installerss
  7. FAQs

What to Consider With Cheap Kitchen Cabinets

There are a few things to consider when you’re in the market for upgrading your cabinets. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on budget cabinets by buying only what you need. Manufacturers set prices by the unit. Wider sizes tend to have a lower cost per linear foot. For example, selecting two 36 inch wide base models will probably run less than three 24 inch ones.

It’s tempting to fill the space with cabinets, but you’ll pay for every empty cabinet. Sometimes, it’s easier to thin out kitchen tools you don’t use than to build more places to store them.

Save on Labor with Ready-to-Assemble Cabinets

Assembled cabinets cost $50 to $150 per linear foot, compared to $30 to $100 per linear foot for ready-to-assemble (RTA) units. You might not have as much choice in RTA products, but you’ll save on shipping or bringing them home from the store.

Remember that DIY only saves money if you have the right tools and materials and know what you’re doing. Cabinet assembly usually takes a few hours per unit and requires the following supplies not provided with the kit:

  • Protective eyewear and gloves
  • Wood glue
  • 16-to-18 gauge nails
  • Bar clamps
  • Hammer or finishing nailer
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Wood shims, level and countertop installation materials, if applicable

Disadvantages of Low-Priced Kitchen Cabinets

Cheap products can be a necessity when the budget is a real consideration, and there are a few drawbacks of low-cost materials you can keep in mind as you shop.

  • Finish wears away easily
  • Hardware breaks down more quickly
  • Lower-quality materials are prone to water damage
  • They usually have a shorter warranty
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What Are Some Cheap Kitchen Cabinet Options?

Affordable materials range from wood veneer and plywood to laminate and medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Keep in mind that cheap construction often doesn’t last as long. Aim for products with 3/4″ thick panels and screws that will go most of the way through the panel. If you’re building it yourself, extra nails will help hold it together.

Wood veneer

close-up of wood veneer cabinet

This material typically has a semi-natural look. Generally speaking, you can sand, stain or paint it to get the look you want, and it’s easy to recycle. On the other hand, it’s vulnerable to water damage. It’s also difficult to repair after damage. Regular polishing help extends its life.


close-up of plywood cabinet

This is a popular option thanks to its affordability and durability. It’s also difficult to dent or scratch. Very humid or wet environments aren’t good for this material.


close-up of laminet cabinet

This is an affordable option if you aren’t interested in customization, as it usually comes in white or ivory. While it’s resistant to dents and scratches, if damage does occur, it’s not possible to repair.


close-up of mdf cabinet

You’ll often find MDF incorporated into a cabinet with another material. For an extremely affordable option, consider plywood with MDF. Take note: MDF is generally considered low or poor quality by industry experts.

Cheap Kitchen Cabinet Options

Material Total Project Cost*
Wood veneer $2,000 – $15,000
MDF $2,500 – $5,000
Plywood $2,500 – $7,500
Laminate $4,000 – $15,000
Wood $5,000 – $20,000
Stainless steel $25,000 – $38,000

*Includes labor estimates. Actual price may vary based on where you live.

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Best Place to Buy Kitchen Cabinets

Where you’ll make your purchase from depends on several factors. Are you a savvy handyman looking for a convenient, ready-to-assemble product? Maybe you’re a first-time buyer, and need an expert opinion. Take a look at different options available to you in the market.

Kitchen Cabinet Company Pros and Cons

Seller Pros Cons
Big box stores Medium quality, quick installation Can be more expensive, limited customization options, lower-quality customer service and expertise
Large franchises Decent hardware, options for sizing and add-ons, ready-to-assemble May feel and look inexpensive, isn’t long-lasting, not very customizable
Small chains Better quality, expertise and customer service Mix and match pre-manufactured parts with custom, more expensive
Online retailers Convenient and affordable Difficult to evaluate quality online, can have high shipping costs, lower customer service
Kitchen cabinet installers Highest quality, expertise and customer service. Long-lasting, durable, attractive Takes longer to create and install, most expensive choices

Where to Buy Cheap Kitchen Cabinets

The best store depends on your specific needs. If low cost is most important to you, consider a big box store, online retailers or a large franchise. If quality and expertise are more important, small chains and local experts are a better fit for you.

Shop Locally for Used Kitchen Cabinets

Since solid wood cabinets often last longer than the kitchen design, you may find people nearby looking to sell their old ones. Cabinet removal costs $15 to $30 per linear foot. To avoid this expense, some homeowners will give them away for free instead of demolition, if you’ll get them out of the house. Before you choose used products, you should:

  1. Shop around and consider at least a few options.
  2. Inspect the condition before buying.
  3. Ask if the price includes removal.
  4. Make sure you can transport them to your home promptly.

TIP: When you’re evaluating quality, look for imperfections like sanding marks, grain irregularities or knots.

Cheap Kitchen Cabinet Installation or Replacement

The average kitchen cabinet costs start at $100 per linear foot.

Here’s a look at additional projects and costs:

You can also save money with cabinet refacing or refinishing. Contact cabinet refacing companies near you.

When Is the Best Time to Buy Kitchen Cabinets?

Keep an eye out for seasonal sales, like Cyber Monday and Black Friday, to find great deals. You can also consider starting your project when other people are least likely to work on theirs – for example, you can likely get a better deal on materials and installation costs if you start in the winter, or right before the holidays.

Ultimately, you should choose the time that works best for you and your family. This type of project can be disruptive and time-consuming.

Hiring Affordable Kitchen Cabinet Installers

Unless you are an experienced DIYer, leave this work to top cabinet contractors near you. Even the cheapest upgrades can become very expensive if DIY mistakes are made and a pro has to come in and fix the issue.

Depending on the material, if you accidentally damage the product, even experts can’t make repairs. You’ll need to start again from scratch. It’s much more important to get the job done right the first time – you can often save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

For a truly affordable upgrade, consider painting kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them.

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How much does it cost to install or replace kitchen cabinets?

The cost to install or replace kitchen cabinets averages about $5,000. Materials usually represent at least 50% of the total expense.

How much does it cost to reface or resurface cabinets?

Refacing cabinets costs about $7,000. The process may include changing doors, as well as repainting or resurfacing the frames.

How much does Home Depot charge vs. Lowe’s vs. IKEA for kitchen cabinets?

Big box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s charge about $30 to $150 per linear foot for inexpensive kitchen cabinets. IKEA prices are similar for preassembled or RTA units.

A private contractor may buy cabinets from the same sources, but they’ll usually add a markup of 20 to 50 percent. However, they may be able to get your job done sooner or at a higher quality.

What brands of kitchen cabinets does Home Depot sell?

The most common brands of kitchen cabinets at Home Depot are Home Decorators Collection, Hampton Bay and Eurostyle.

How many cabinets are in a 10’ x 10’ kitchen?

A 10 by 10 foot (10′x10′) kitchen might need 21 cabinets with these dimensions:

  • 2 base at 30″ wide
  • 3 base at 24″ wide
  • 5 base at 18″ wide
  • 3 wall at 24″ wide
  • 5 wall at 18″ wide
  • 3 wall at 12″ wide

A kitchen this size usually has about 15 to 20 linear feet available for cabinetry. For these dimensions, homeowners should plan for 18 to 20 linear feet in base units and 15 to 18 linear feet for walls.

What is the least expensive wood for kitchen cabinets?

Birch is usually the least-expensive wood option. The cheapest kitchen cabinet materials are plywood and MDF.

What is the best material for kitchen cabinets?

The best material for kitchen cabinets depends on homeowner preference. Solid wood offers a luxurious appearance, but it costs up to 10x more than plywood or MDF. For the price, it doesn’t tend to perform better or last longer.

How can I get cheap bathroom cabinets?

The cheapest bathroom cabinets usually come premade with a precut countertop. The best deals come from big box stores like Lowe’s in the late fall.

The cost to install a bathroom vanity starts around $300.

What’s the best way to get cheap garage storage cabinets?

For the best prices on garage storage cabinets, look for preassembled units in common sizes at big box stores. You’ll find more sales in late summer and fall.

Custom garage storage cabinets cost $3,000 to $25,000.

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  1. Frances, May 9:

    I am trying to find out what quality JSI cabinets are. I am Interested in a particular contractor, however he is a JSI cabinet dealer, and maybe even strictly only uses them.

    What kind of quality are JSI cabinets? Help!

  2. Eric Tryon, June 8:

    One thing to avoid with cheap cabinetry is the hardware! While the material construction can be shortcut I always recommend going with quality hinges and drawer slides upfront as those are hard to replace later (soft close ideally!).

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