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The 10′ x 10′ Kitchen and Why the Linear Foot Price for Cabinetry is a Lie.

Customers often ask us how much a particular cabinet costs per linear foot. The question is based on the kitchen industry’s mythical 10′ x 10′ kitchen. In reality, cabinets are never sold by the linear foot.  And the linear foot price you see for cabinets on kitchen displays inside home centers is intentionally misleading.

White shaker kitchen with island and quartzite top.


Real Kitchen by Main Line Kitchen Design

Cabinets are always sold by the individual cabinet, molding, panel, and part. No cabinet store or home center like Lowes or The Home Depot sells cabinets by the linear foot.

The linear foot price for a cabinet style uses a formula created by the cabinet industry to both compare one brands’ cost to another and also to mislead customers as to how much cabinetry costs.

The linear foot price for a particular cabinet is calculated by adding up the cost for the cabinets in a mythical L shaped 10′ x 10′ kitchen.

This small kitchen always has a big window and a big refrigerator and so two large spaces without cabinets to price. It also usually has 4 small 30″ wall cabinets. Blind or dead corners, no molding, no roll outs, no panels and is all particleboard with the cheapest hinges and tracks that the cabinet line offers.

Example of the industry standard 10' x 10' Kitchen
Example of the industry standard 10′ x 10′ Kitchen


Example of the industry standard 10′ x 10′ Kitchen

To calculate the linear foot price, you simply add up the cost of the cabinetry pictured above. Then divide by 20 (10 + 10). This calculates a starting linear foot price for that cabinet line in that door style. Notice that the corners in this calculation were counted twice.

This linear foot price is sort of like the ads you see for a new car saying, “nothing down and $100 per month for a brand-new car”.

We all know this deal doesn’t exist. To get the deal you have to trade in a two-year-old car with low mileage and qualify for veterans, senior, and return buyer discounts. Oh, and sorry “that car was sold off the lot yesterday.”

An actual kitchen will be closer to double the linear foot price. Moldings and extras like a drawer base, glass doors, a lazy Susan or a trash pull out increase costs. For big kitchens with tall ceilings and with lots of panels and roll outs – far above double the price.

Same white shaker kitchen in first photo

Misleading customers as to what a kitchen will cost is not ethical in my opinion. It is also misleading advertising cabinetry sales of 25, 40, and 50% off.

These fake sales are based on the list price of cabinetry. No kitchen place sells cabinetry for its inflated list price. Nearly all cabinet dealers sell cabinetry EVERY DAY for 25, 40, and 50% off of list price. It depends on an individual cabinet lines list pricing.

Main Line Kitchen Design tries to explain these industry tricks to our customers. We would never advertise or use these methods to attract business.

Helping people make sensible choices and educating customers about our industry helps people spend their budget wisely.

Pressuring people to buy now is never a good idea. Especially with complicated construction projects like kitchen renovations.

Below are some other blogs on related topics:

Why Price Comparing Kitchen Cabinets Can be a Bad Idea

Are HGTV Remodeling Shows Realistic?

Wishing all our customers a great rest of the summer . . .

. . . and of course . . .

Bon Appetit!

Paul, Julie, Chris, Ed, Jeremy, Juliet, and Mark

Main Line Kitchen Design

16 Replies to “The 10′ x 10′ Kitchen and Why the Linear Foot Price for Cabinetry is a Lie.”

  1. Brantley

    As a cabinet maker of 30 yrs you have to have a base price per foot – depending on the type of wood – the price goes up -depending on the door style mold flat panel mitered raised panel etc the price goes up -soft close hinges and runners – the price goes up – custom cabinets aren’t- homemade- as you call them at least they’re 3/4 interiors unlike H D and Lowes- I’ve assembled and installed their-cabinets- 1/2 interiors which are nothing more than waferboard with a laminate that’s heated and glued on and yes crown molding is included in the price along with the top drawers 2nd and 3rd what we’ve always called banker drawers are 200 each and last but not least the hardware is included- unlike the box store- cabinets

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Brantley,
      Sorry you may have been making cabinets for 30 years but all real custom cabinet makers, IE not individuals making cabinets in their shop or garage, do not charge by the the linear foot. Nor is molding ever included in the price of cabinetry. Each cabinet and length of molding is sold as an individual cost. The linear foot price is just a way to help non professionals to understand cabinet pricing. If you have adopted a linear foot price to sell the cabinetry that you make then you are doing something that real cabinet manufacturers do not.

      The custom cabinet brands dealers refer to are larger companies with many employees mass producing custom cabinetry. They use the same finishes used by semi custom even larger companies. They just offer custom sizing, more wood species, door profiles and other features. And they all charge by the cabinet and piece.

      Even at Home Depot and Lowes you can upgrade their cabinets to all plywood construction. Kraftmaid, a framed cabinet brand that both home centers sell, can actually be upgraded to 3/4″ plywood sides if a customer wanted. So dissing a home centers cabinets actually shows that you don’t understand how cabinets are ordered. It is inexperienced designers, a poor ordering system, and unqualified measurements that are the real issue with home centers.

      Because you mention 3/4″ interiors in the cabinetry that you make I am guessing that you make frameless cabinets in your shop or garage. This would be the easiest type cabinet to make for someone with the minimum amount of experience. Below is a video of a very experienced shop teacher that has created a great variation of framed/frameless cabinetry.

      I would trust someone with this type of experience even if they were a tiny shop. Otherwise carpenters should generally not be making cabinets as they can’t do as good a job as the bigger real custom brands, and because they don’t have the ability to mass produce, they can’t be as competitive price wise. This is why we call cabinets made by carpenters “homemade”. As a former professional carpenter I would never build a cabinet – it wouldn’t be cost effective. I do build my own radiator covers but that is because they aren’t mass produced by anyone, plus there are no moving parts, and I can live with the inferior product that I produce. Plus I can watch a Philadelphia Eagles game while I build the cover to pass the time.

  2. Caren

    Question for you. Building a new home. Don’t want painted cabinets for wear and tear reasons,. Do want a coastal and light feel. Struggling to find that with stains. Appreciate any help.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Caren,
      This is just a choice of personal preference. That being said, a light maple is inexpensive and the most durable. This simple light maple kitchen is on our web site as nod to insiders.
      It is on our site because it belongs to “the boy under the sink.”

  3. Nick Ford

    Pardon me, we’re a custom cabinet shop and I disagree with your story. First off, moulding is almost always included in the linear foot price from most cabinet shops. Second, there are degrees of quality in custom cabinetry. For 2022, the national average ranges from $500 – $1200 a linear foot. Third, trash pullouts and rollout shelves are included in quotes given to customers, up front. Your article is absolutely uninformative and flat out incorrect.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      You must not be long in the cabinet industry to not know what a 10 x 10 kitchen is.

      How your particular company quotes a kitchen is not relevant, it’s how our industry determines the linear foot price of a kitchen using the industry accepted pricing. The whole cabinetry world uses a standard model that doesn’t include any moldings or extras in the linear foot calculation. Here’s a link where another company explains this for you:

      One of the distressing things about custom cabinetry companies is that while they usually make great cabinetry, they and their dealers sometimes know less about kitchen design, renovation, and industry product information. This makes the dealers that ONLY sell custom cabinetry dangerous places for homeowner to work with.

      Not all kitchens or budgets should be using custom cabinetry. Dealers that only sell one custom brand force customers that don’t belong in that price point into unneeded more expensive cabinetry. Worst of all when you only sell one brand of cabinets if that brand goes bankrupt like Wood-Mode or Solid Wood Cabinetry did a few years ago, ALL your customers lose their money.

      The best dealers sell brands across all price points as we do. Selling many brands helps you understand more about the cabinet industry and helps you help customers within their budget. Some of our customers do get the most expensive custom cabinetry that we sell, but most do not, nor would it make sense selling them a brand that would eat up too much of their budget.

      “Cabinet Shops” as you call them can also be problematic for a number of reasons. See this blog:

      When professional kitchen designers refer to custom cabinetry we are talking about larger custom brands and not small cabinet shops that make not what we would consider “custom” cabinetry but what we would consider “homemade” cabinetry.

    2. Peppers

      I think you misunderstood his viewpoint, he is absolutely correct please read it again, I applaud him for this. As a 25+years owner of a custom cabinet business I have seen this time after time the biggest problem is nobody wants to admit it after they have done made the mistake (customers)
      ****Peppers cabinets**** 👍

      1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

        Thanks for the vote of confidence Peppers!

  4. Larry

    This is such a dumb article, as with most things, you get what you pay for. How is it a surprise that if you upgrade, it’ll cost more. That’s like being surprised that leather interior costs more than cloth for your car.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      You are failing to grasp the point of the article. Which is that using the linear foot price to extrapolate on what your cabinetry for your kitchen might cost isn’t useful. As kitchen designers we get asked constantly what cabinets cost per linear foot when they aren’t sold this way – anywhere. What people aren’t getting is that it isn’t just upgrades that increase the price of a kitchen it is the way the linear foot price is calculated that is misleading. People thinking that they know more than they do is one of our biggest battle as professionals.

      1. Adrian Burke

        Well said 🤜💥🤛

  5. Jana Vesely

    Yes, thank you for the truth, but how about suggestions as where do I buy
    A kitchen cabinets on budget. I am purchasing a old condo and the kitchen is from the 1970
    And I am 76 year old, but want to get a good deal. How can I find a good deal, nothing fancy, maybe even how to find out when they change the display kitchens in stores and resell to public.
    Thank you, just need a real deal at this age.

    1. pmcalary[ Post Author ]

      Hi Jana,
      Buying display cabinetry seldom works for a kitchen and rarely saves money. To spend money wisely on any kitchen renovation you need very specific cabinet sizes. You will never be able to use more than half of a display. There will be no showrooms upgrading cabinetry during a pandemic so you would need to find showrooms that were going bankrupt to buy displays and finding a financially safe place to buy the remaining cabinets you would need would be even more difficult. Just make your decisions sensibly with the help of a kitchen designer from a reasonably priced and respected showroom. Use our blogs below to help you pick an inexpensive cabinet line and possibly a dealer in your area:

  6. Sue

    As a retired Interior Designer, I have always “stressed” when dealing with Cabinet Companies for the very reasons you have noted above. Cheers to your honesty and for bringing a higher level of integrity to the Industry…

    1. ITSAdmin

      Thanks Sue. I think that not being transparent breads this kind of thing. Thankfully the internet forces transparency on companies whether they want it or not. The result has been good for the cabinet industry and construction in general.

      Unfortunately HGTV renovation reality shows dispense misinformation by the barrel full so while we are improving in some ways we not in others. It is such a shame that the renovation shows all started with This Old House and Hometime on PBS which were honest and realistic.

  7. Kevin

    Thank you for exposing a disingenuous ploy, so common in the kitchen cabinetry industry. Your platform, of seeking transparency in such matters, is refreshing.

    Prospective kitchen remodel customers, have the right to be properly educated, so they can make the best decisions to suit their needs, from a technical, aesthetic, and economic perspective.

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