Is It Cheaper To Build or Buy Kitchen Cabinets? Cost Comparison Guide

Last updated on April 12, 2024

Discover the cost-effective choice between building and buying kitchen cabinets as we dive into a detailed comparison to help you make the best decision for your home.

affordable kitchen cabinet hardware

Kitchen cabinets are an essential part of any kitchen, providing both functionality and aesthetics. They can make or break the entire look of your kitchen.

When it comes to renovating or designing a new kitchen, one of the most significant decisions you’ll have to make is whether to build or buy your cabinets. It’s a question that many homeowners face, and the answer isn’t always straightforward.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the pros and cons of building versus buying kitchen cabinets, as well as some factors that may influence your decision-making process. So if you’re in the market for new cabinetry and want to make an informed decision about which option is right for you, keep reading!

What's Inside

Factors Influencing Cabinet Costs

Calculating Cost of Kitchen Cabinets

Understanding these factors is crucial in determining whether building or buying your cabinets is the more cost-effective option for you. Some of the most significant factors that influence cabinet costs include material costs, labor costs, and time investment.

Material Costs: The type of materials used in making your kitchen cabinets will have a significant impact on their overall price. High-end materials such as solid wood or custom finishes will be more expensive than prefabricated options made from particleboard.

Labor Costs: Labor expenses are another critical factor to consider when deciding between building and buying kitchen cabinets. If you choose to build them yourself, you’ll save money on labor but may need specialized tools and equipment that could add up quickly.

Time Investment: Building your own cabinetry requires a considerable amount of time investment compared to purchasing pre-made ones off-the-shelf at a store near you. You’ll need adequate planning skills if this route appeals better since it involves measuring space accurately before cutting pieces down into sizeable shapes for assembly later on.

Material Costs

Wood Plank Boards Kitchen Cabinet Back Island

The cost of materials will vary depending on the type and quality you choose, as well as the size and complexity of your project. If you decide to build your cabinets, you’ll need to purchase all necessary materials such as wood, hardware, paint or stain, and any other accessories required for installation.

On average, building custom kitchen cabinets from scratch can be more expensive than buying prefabricated ones due to higher material costs. However, if you’re skilled in woodworking or have access to affordable raw materials like reclaimed wood or salvaged cabinetry parts from a thrift store then building may be cheaper.

Labor Costs

Custom Cabinet Makers

If you choose to build your own cabinets, you’ll need some level of woodworking skills and experience, which can take time and effort to acquire. Even if you have the necessary skills, building custom cabinetry is a labor-intensive process that requires careful planning and execution.

On the other hand, buying pre-made cabinets means that most of the labor has already been done for you. You won’t have to worry about cutting wood or assembling pieces together; instead, all that’s left is installation.

When it comes down strictly on cost comparison between building versus buying kitchen cabinets in terms of labor expenses alone – purchasing pre-made ones will be cheaper than making them yourself due mainly because professional cabinet makers work faster with more efficiency than an average DIYer would do at home.

Time Investment

Choosing Buying Kitchen Cabinets at a Local Shop

Building your own cabinets can be a time-consuming process, especially if you’re not an experienced woodworker. It may take several weeks or even months to complete a set of custom cabinets, depending on their complexity and your skill level.

On the other hand, buying pre-made cabinets can save you a lot of time and hassle. You won’t have to worry about measuring and cutting materials or assembling components from scratch since everything will arrive ready-to-install.

However, keep in mind that even if you decide to purchase pre-made cabinetry, there may still be some assembly required depending on how they are shipped (flat-packed vs fully assembled). Customization options such as paint color changes could add extra lead times for delivery.

Customization Options

Custom-Made Rustic Kitchen Cabinets Maker

With custom-built cabinets, you have complete control over the design and can tailor them to fit your specific needs and preferences. You can choose from a wide range of materials, finishes, colors, hardware styles and sizes that are not available in prefabricated models.

Customization also allows you to optimize space usage by incorporating unique features such as pull-out shelves or hidden compartments for storing small appliances or utensils. If you have an oddly shaped kitchen layout or non-standard dimensions for your cabinetry requirements then building custom cabinets may be the only option.

On the other hand, buying pre-made cabinets limits your choices when it comes to customization options since they come in standard sizes with limited color choices and designs. However some manufacturers offer semi-customized solutions where customers can select from various cabinet configurations but still within certain limitations set by their production process.

Quality Comparison

IKEA Store Buying Kitchen Cabinets

If you’re building your own cabinets, you have complete control over the materials used and can ensure that they are of high quality. However, this requires a certain level of skill in woodworking or carpentry to achieve professional-grade results.

On the other hand, when purchasing pre-made cabinets from a reputable manufacturer or supplier, you can be confident that they are made with high-quality materials and meet industry standards for durability. Many manufacturers offer warranties on their products which provide peace of mind knowing that any defects will be covered.

It’s important to note that not all pre-made cabinetry is created equal; some may use lower-quality materials or cut corners during production resulting in subpar products. It’s essential to do your research before making a purchase by reading reviews from previous customers or seeking recommendations from professionals in the industry.

DIY Vs. Professional Installation

removing kitchen cabinet

DIY installation can save you money on labor costs, but it’s important to consider your skill level and available tools before taking on such a significant project. Installing cabinets requires precision and attention to detail, so if you don’t have experience with woodworking or cabinetry installation, it may be best to leave this task in the hands of professionals.

On the other hand, hiring professionals will ensure that your cabinets are installed correctly and efficiently. They will also take care of any necessary adjustments or repairs during installation.

However, professional installation comes at an additional cost that should be factored into your budget.

Evaluating Your Skill Level

installing base cabinets kitchen

Building cabinets from scratch requires a certain level of expertise and experience with woodworking tools and techniques. If you’re not confident in your abilities, it may be best to leave the job to professionals or opt for pre-made cabinetry.

On the other hand, if you have some experience with DIY projects and are willing to invest time in learning new skills, building your own cabinets can be a rewarding project that saves money while providing customized results.

It’s important also consider how much time you have available for this project. Building custom cabinetry is a significant undertaking that requires careful planning and execution.

If you’re working on tight deadlines or don’t have enough free time outside of work hours, buying ready-made kitchen cabinets might be more practical.

Necessary Tools and Equipment

Tools for Kitchen Island Construction Installation

Some of the basic tools required include a saw, drill, hammer, screwdriver set, measuring tape or ruler. You’ll also need sandpaper for smoothing out rough edges and surfaces after cutting wood pieces.

Other specialized equipment may be needed depending on your cabinet design plans. For instance:

  • A table saw is useful when making long cuts.
  • A router can help create decorative edges.
  • Clamps are helpful in holding pieces together while gluing or nailing them.

It’s important to note that some of these tools can be expensive if you don’t already own them. However, investing in quality tools will save you money in the long run as they last longer and perform better than cheaper alternatives.

Available Styles and Designs

Stock Kitchen Cabinets Shopping Buying Purchasing Store

From traditional to modern, rustic to contemporary, you can choose from an array of options that suit your taste and complement your home’s overall aesthetic. If you decide on buying pre-made cabinets, most manufacturers offer various styles and finishes for their products.

On the other hand, if you opt for building custom cabinets yourself or hiring a professional carpenter or cabinet maker to do it for you – then the sky is truly the limit when it comes to design possibilities.

It’s essential first to consider what style best suits your needs before making any decisions about purchasing or building cabinetry. You’ll want something that not only looks great but also functions well within your space while meeting all of its storage requirements.

Some popular cabinet styles include shaker-style doors with clean lines; raised panel doors with intricate details; flat-panel doors with minimalistic appeal; glass-fronted display cases perfect for showcasing dishware collections; open shelving units ideal for storing cookbooks and decorative items alike.

Space Optimization

Oak Cabinets Marble Countertop

This means that you can optimize every inch of available space in your kitchen, ensuring that there’s no wasted or unused area. For example, if you have a small kitchen with limited storage options, building custom cabinets may be the best way to maximize storage capacity while maintaining an organized and clutter-free environment.

On the other hand, buying pre-made cabinets may limit your ability to make adjustments based on unique spatial constraints. While many manufacturers offer standard sizes for their products, these dimensions might not always align with what works best for your particular layout.

Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and budget when deciding whether or not customization is worth it for optimizing space in a new or renovated kitchen design.

Budget Considerations


This is not always the case. The total cost of building or buying cabinets depends on several factors such as materials used, labor costs and customization options.

If you’re working with a tight budget and want to save money on your kitchen renovation project, consider purchasing prefabricated cabinets from home improvement stores instead of custom-built ones. Prefabricated cabinetry is less expensive because they are mass-produced in factories using cheaper materials like particleboard or MDF (medium-density fiberboard).

On the other hand, if you have some woodworking skills and tools at your disposal but don’t want to compromise on quality or design options for your cabinetry project then DIY cabinet-making could be an excellent choice for you.

Prefabricated Vs. Custom Cabinets

Clear Decluttered White Kitchen Cabinet with Granite Countertop Faucet Small Window

Prefabricated cabinets are pre-made and come in standard sizes and designs, while custom cabinets are made to order according to your specific requirements.

Prefabricated Cabinets: Prefabricated cabinets can be a cost-effective option for those on a tight budget as they tend to be less expensive than custom cabinetry due to their mass production process. They also offer quick installation times since they’re already assembled and ready-to-go.

However, the downside of prefabricated cabinetry is that there’s limited flexibility when it comes to design choices. You’ll need to choose from the available styles and sizes offered by manufacturers which may not fit your unique space or style preferences.

Custom Cabinets: On the other hand, if you opt for custom-built kitchen cabinetry, you’ll have complete control over every aspect of its design – from materials used down right up until final finishes applied. While this level of customization means higher costs compared with prefab units; however many homeowners find that investing in bespoke pieces pays off long-term because these items last longer than their cheaper counterparts.

Moreover customized cabinetries provide better storage solutions as well as increased functionality tailored specifically towards individual needs.

Pros and Cons of Building Cabinets

cost saving

Here are some pros and cons to consider before you decide to build your own cabinets.


  • Cost Savings: Building your own cabinets can save you money on labor costs.
  • Customization: You have complete control over the design, materials used, and finishes applied.
  • Satisfaction: There is a sense of pride that comes with building something yourself.
  • Skill Development: If you’re interested in woodworking or DIY projects, building cabinets is an excellent opportunity to develop new skills.


  • Time Investment: Building custom cabinetry takes time – from planning the design to sourcing materials and constructing each piece. It may take several weeks or even months depending on how much free time you have available.
  • Tools Required: To build quality cabinetry requires specialized tools such as table saws, routers, clamps etc., which may require additional investment if they are not already owned
  • Skill Level Required : Cabinet making requires advanced carpentry skills; therefore it might be challenging for beginners who lack experience in this field
  • Material Costs : The cost of high-quality wood material required for cabinet construction could add up quickly

Pros and Cons of Buying Cabinets


One of the most significant benefits is convenience. When you buy pre-made cabinets, you don’t have to worry about sourcing materials or spending time constructing them yourself.

Instead, all you need to do is select the style and design that best suits your needs and budget.

Another advantage of buying kitchen cabinets is cost-effectiveness. While custom-built cabinetry can be expensive due to labor costs and material expenses, prefabricated options are often more affordable without sacrificing quality.

However, there are also some downsides to consider when buying pre-made kitchen cabinets. For one thing, customization options may be limited compared with building your own cabinetry from scratch – although this depends on where you purchase your cabinet sets from.

If space optimization or unique dimensions are important factors in designing your dream kitchen layout then purchasing ready-to-assemble (RTA) units may not always fit perfectly into those spaces which could lead to additional modifications being required by a professional installer adding extra expense onto an already tight budget.

Environmentally Friendly Choices

Environmentally or Eco Friendly Options Materials

If you’re someone who prioritizes sustainability and eco-friendliness, then building your own cabinets may be the way to go. By using reclaimed or recycled wood, you can reduce waste while also creating a unique look that adds character to your home.

Another option is to choose pre-built cabinets made from sustainable materials such as bamboo or FSC-certified wood. These options are often more expensive than traditional materials but offer long-term benefits for both the environment and your health.

When it comes down to it, making environmentally conscious decisions about your kitchen cabinetry is just one of many factors that should influence whether you build or buy them.

Warranty and Support

Warranty Reglazing Kitchen Sink

The length of the warranty can vary depending on the manufacturer and type of cabinet you purchase. It’s essential to read through the terms and conditions carefully before making your final decision.

In addition to warranties, many manufacturers offer customer support services that can help answer any questions or concerns you may have about your cabinets. This support can be invaluable if something goes wrong with your cabinets down the line.

If you decide to build your own kitchen cabinets, there is no guarantee or warranty for their quality unless it comes from a professional carpenter who provides one as part of their service package.

Resale Value Impact

increase home's value

Kitchen cabinets are no exception. If you’re planning on selling your home in the near future, it’s essential to think about how your choice between building or buying kitchen cabinets will impact its overall value.

In general, custom-built cabinetry tends to have a higher resale value than prefabricated options since they are often made with high-quality materials and tailored specifically for the space they occupy. However, this doesn’t mean that prefabricated cabinets can’t add significant value as well.

Maintenance and Durability

man cleaning cabinet

While both built-in and pre-made cabinets can last for years with proper care, the level of maintenance required may vary depending on the materials used. For instance, solid wood cabinets require regular cleaning and polishing to maintain their shine while laminate or veneer finishes are easier to clean but may chip or peel over time.

Durability is also a crucial factor when choosing between building or buying your kitchen cabinetry. Custom-built cabinets tend to be more durable as they’re made from high-quality materials that can withstand wear-and-tear better than prefabricated ones.

However, this doesn’t mean that all pre-made options aren’t durable; some manufacturers use top-grade materials in their products too. Ultimately, whether you choose custom-built or prefabricated cabinetry will depend on your budget constraints as well as personal preferences regarding style and functionality.

It’s important always to consider long-term costs such as maintenance expenses when making this decision since these costs could add up over time if ignored initially. When deciding between building versus buying kitchen cabinetry for your home renovation project – keep in mind how much effort you want (or have) available towards upkeep after installation day arrives!


Can you build cabinets cheaper than buying?

Yes, in most cases, building cabinets can be cheaper than buying, as shop-built cabinets typically cost less due to their buying power with the lumber supplier.

Is it better to build your own cabinets or buy?

Building your own cabinets can save money but may not be feasible for inexperienced woodworkers, so it depends on your woodworking skills, time availability, and access to tools.

What is the cheapest way to do kitchen cabinets?

The cheapest way to do kitchen cabinets is to reface them by stripping the existing stain or paint and applying new stain, varnish, or paint, or refinishing with a stick-on veneer.

Is it expensive to make your own cabinets?

Making your own cabinets can be expensive, with costs ranging from $800 to $1,200 per cabinet depending on the quality of materials and size of the kitchen space.

How do DIY kitchen cabinet costs compare to pre-made cabinets?

DIY kitchen cabinet costs are generally lower than pre-made cabinets.

What factors should be considered when deciding between building or buying kitchen cabinets?

When deciding between building or buying kitchen cabinets, one should consider factors such as budget, time constraints, customization options, personal skill set, and the quality of materials.

Are custom-built cabinets more cost-effective in the long run compared to store-bought cabinets?

Custom-built cabinets are more cost-effective in the long run compared to store-bought cabinets due to the higher quality, durability, and personalization.

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