Price comparing kitchen cabinets can be a bad idea.

Why does pricing a kitchen plan at a bunch of different places almost assure that a consumer gets taken advantage of?

Cabinet pricing is dependent on dozens of factors that customers are not knowledgeable enough to price compare accurately. Accordingly customers who shop too much and don’t trust a good kitchen designer usually fall prey to the first unscrupulous designer they meet.

Bishop Framed Ultimate Box
Framed Cabinet Box

For example, a designer making any of the changes listed below could significantly lower a cabinet price quote while also lowering cabinet quality. These subtle changes would often go undetected by the customers:

  1. Not upgrading to plywood sides. Up to 15% less but substantially less durable.
  2. Not flushing out the sides of the end cabinets. 5% less but less custom looking.
  3. Not upgrading track Hardware. 5% less but drawers would be less sturdy and probably not soft close.
  4. Not adding Decorative doors. 10% less but less attractive.
  5. Quoting a veneer raised center panel door instead of a solid wood raised center panel door. 15% less and undetectable to almost any homeowner. Note: Some customers might prefer the less expensive look but if they were quoted for the more expensive look they aren’t comparing “apples to apples”.
  6. Quoting a plywood center panel door instead of a solid wood one. 15% less. Again difficult to detect and again possibly preferable to some customers.
  7. Quoting a standard overlay or partial overlay door instead of a full overlay door. Up to 25% less. A huge difference in price and looks that could not be appreciated by non cabinet professionals.
  8. Different box upgrade for example 1/2″ instead of 3/4″ box. Or melamine interior instead of a plywood veneer interior. 5-10% less. Again a significant price difference while most customers could never detect the difference.
  9. 5/8″ thick shelves instead of 3/4″. 5-10% less – quality reductions again.
  10. Soft maple, beech, or birch drawer box instead of a solid maple or walnut drawer box. 5-10% less – easily overlooked except for walnut.
  11. Keeping the same stain or paint color but changing the species of wood from Cherry to Maple or Cherry to Alder or Maple to Birch. 8% less – lower quality color and appearance to some peoples eye.
  12. Not including sales tax or shipping in the price to tack it on later. 6-10% less. What does this say about the designers integrity?
  13. Not including the same amount or type of moldings in the cabinet order. Up to 10% less – starting the see the many ways to work the price?
Roll out trays inside a cabinet
Roll out trays inside a cabinet

14. Changing drawer bases or base cabinets with roll outs to regular base cabinets. $200 to $400 for every cabinet changed.
15. Quoting a more expensive cabinet brand but downgrading, like the list above, to give you a worse product at a worse price. A customer would often believe they got “a deal” on a more expensive brand.
16. Special sale prices. Lets just say be VERY suspicious of cabinet sales.

All these examples make finding a talented, ethical, and experienced kitchen designer FAR more important than shopping cabinet pricing. Using cabinet pricing as a criteria to purchase usually makes it more likely a customer will get a bad design and a lower quality product at an inflated price.

Main Line Kitchen Design actually sells cabinets for less than home centers and most other dealers. However, we never quote pricing on another dealer’s design because there is no winning the price battle without deceiving the customers who get on this pricing train.

The designer is THE most important part of the kitchen renovation process. Customers who prioritize price over design end up working with less transparent designers and end up either spending more or losing value in the end.

Looking for the best deal on a kitchen?? STOP researching cabinet prices and brands! INSTEAD research to find the best designer and cabinet dealer. Click here for an account of a buyer who followed this advice and one who didn’t . . .

52 Replies to “Price comparing kitchen cabinets can be a bad idea.”

  1. Ronald

    Hi what do you think of marsh cabinets?

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Ronald,
      Here is our 2021 cabinet ratings:
      We rate Marsh reasonably well. They may have even upgraded since we reviewed them as many brands have gone to all plywood construction at the lower price ranges.

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