Shopping for Kitchen Cabinet Pricing: Is It a Good Idea?

Jenny Cazares | Discovery Team | Dean Cabinetry

By: Jenny Cazares

If you are comparing prices between several kitchen cabinet providers, it might lead you down a confusing path. This is especially true if you don’t understand exactly what you are getting. If you are truly comparing “apples to apples”, then it might be useful, but you will need to do your due diligence, so you understand the differences. 

Here is the issue, most people want the big, juicy, sweet Macintosh apple, but then compare it to a Crabapple. Yes, they may be in the apple family, but they are not of the same caliber. We all know the difference between a Macintosh and a Crabapple…but when it comes to cabinetry, it might be a little more difficult to decipher exactly what you’re paying for, especially when your Crabapple is made to look like a Macintosh.

What if the two cabinet providers’ cabinets look the same?

Well, there’s a good reason for that old adage, “don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Two cabinets from the outside may appear to be identical, but you could easily be deceived or fooled into believing they are the same quality.

John Dean Custom Cabinets-Dean Cabinetry

How can I tell the difference when comparing cabinets?


  • Plywood construction
    • Some cabinet providers may budget you with partial plywood construction, particle board, or MDF, which could be up to 15% less in pricing and also less durable.
    • Budgeting you with ⅜” or ½” plywood construction instead of ⅝” or ¾”, might be 5-10% less in pricing, but not better construction. This can easily go undetected.
  • Downgrading your wood product
    • If you are selecting a paint color or stain, some will budget you on a less expensive or lower quality wood. An example might be using maple wood with a cherry stain (rather than using cherry hardwood) or using birch rather than maple. This could be an 8-10% price difference. 
    • Budgeting a veneer product instead of a solid wood item. This is about 15% less in price and very hard to detect.
  • Soft close doors and drawers
    • Budgeting your kitchen cabinets, but not including soft close on all doors and drawers, a 5-10% price difference.
  • Drawer boxes
    • Downgrading your drawer boxes to a less expensive wood product. This could be a 5-10% price difference and easily overlooked.
  • Track Hardware and hinges
    • Budgeting you on less expensive track hardware for your drawers (ie. side mount slides rather than undermount slides) and hinges for your doors, this could be 5% less in pricing, less sturdy and have a shorter lifespan.
  • Shelves
    • Budgeted for ½” or ⅝’ shelves instead of ¾” shelves, a 5-10% difference in price and quality.


  • Downgrading your wood product
    • If your wood is downgraded, aesthetically you may notice a significant difference in the finished look of your stained or painted finish.
  • End cabinets
    • Not budgeting you for decorative end panels, if requested. This is a 10%+ price difference.
    • Not flushing the ends of the cabinets results in a ¼” visible corner edge. This is about 5% less in price and it looks less custom. 
  • Decorative doors and appliance panels
    • Budgeting you on a very basic door style and not the decorative door you want. This results in a 10% price difference and might not be the look you are after.
    • Not budgeting appliance panels, if requested. 5% difference in price.
  • Overlay
    • Budgeting you on standard or partial overlay doors instead of full overlay. This is a costly price difference of up to 25% and makes a big difference in the overall look of your kitchen.

Bait and Switch or “bare bones” pricing

  • Crown molding, trim, and fillers
    • Some cabinet providers may budget you for “bare bones” and not include your trim, any necessary fillers, or crown molding. This can add up to 10% less in pricing.
  • Under cabinet molding
    • If you need under cabinet molding for lighting, make sure they include this in your budget. 5-10% difference in price.
  • Changing your requests
    • Changing your soft close, or drawer base cabinets with rollouts, to standard base cabinets, without any extras. This could result in a price difference or $200-$400 per cabinet. 
  • Expensive brand
    • Budgeting you on a more expensive cabinet line, but downgrading everything in it. The customer believes they got a great price, not knowing it’s been downgraded to an overall cheaper product.
  • Sales
    • Don’t be fooled by “Sales Events” or “Specials”. This is often to lure the client, possibly using a “bait” and “switch” technique. The provider may then change the product you thought you were getting, as well as the pricing. You should ask yourself, “why is it on sale”? Is the product damaged? Is the company going out of business?
  • Final quote
    • You believe it is the “out the door cost” but they did not include sales tax, shipping, delivery, or installation. This is a 6-10% price difference.
Dean Cabinetry Bolton, CT.

When you are comparing cabinet companies, make sure you take into consideration each company’s reviews. Read what their clients have to say about their products and the quality of their installation. You can have a great product, but if it’s not installed properly, you will not be happy. 

As you can see, there are several ways you can tell if you are truly comparing “apples to apples” cabinetry, or if you’re being deceived. I hope this blog has been helpful when selecting the right kitchen cabinet partner for your project. 

Choose the best product for your budget, and with a great installation team and excellent customer service, you will have the kitchen of your dreams!