It's easy to approach a full kitchen remodel with enthusiasm and high hopes, only to be stunned by the cost of the project. Every aspect of a kitchen remodel seems to cost more than in other rooms—flooring, appliances, lighting, and countertops. If one culprit can be singled out as the major cost-driver, it's kitchen cabinets.
Kitchen cabinets can represent a majority of the total kitchen remodel cost. When you add fixtures and accessories like slide-outs, organizers, and lazy susans, the price climbs even higher. So, paring down the cost of cabinets brings down the total project cost commensurately.
One way to do this is to get creative. Buying, bartering, or otherwise obtaining used kitchen cabinets helps bring down the considerable cost of new kitchen cabinets.
Sources For Used Kitchen Cabinets
Architectural salvage yards are found in most large metropolitan areas, especially areas that have an older housing stock. Salvage yards typically have used kitchen cabinets of acceptable quality. Architectural salvage is an eco-friendly and money-saving option, plus you'll be able to find many other items for the home.
Prices will rarely be rock-bottom since profit-based architectural salvage yards are about commerce, not charity. But the prices will nearly always be less than the price of new cabinets.
Craigslist or eBay
You may find some used kitchen cabinets for sale listed primarily on Craigslist and sometimes on eBay. Because it costs so much to ship cabinets, with eBay you'll need to limit the range to your local area. Unless the cabinets are high-end, many sellers will not even consider shipping the cabinets, even if the buyer pays for shipping.
Buy Nothing Project
Your immediate area may have a Buy Nothing group. Buy Nothing is a hyper-local, ongoing classified ads section where everything is offered and received for no cost. You can even put out a request for items and see what happens.
Buy Nothing groups tend to operate through Facebook. Either start at the Buy Nothing site to find your group or search on Facebook.
Grabbing free kitchen cabinets will be hit-and-miss here, especially since items tend to be on the smaller side. But if you're in no hurry, it's always worth signing up for your local Buy Nothing group and keeping an eye on listings.
Facebook Marketplace is an adjunct of Facebook where most items listed are for sale (as opposed to Facebook Buy Nothing).
Used cabinets are aplenty on Facebook Marketplace, with conditions ranging from poor and falling apart to nearly mint condition.
A Habitat ReStore is a type of architectural salvage yard with a twist: profits go to a worthy charitable cause, Habitat For Humanity. Goods are often donated from large remodeling projects, and in good condition.
Habitat ReStores benefit so many causes. Primarily, families in need of good, safe housing are benefitted. Building materials are kept out of landfill. And you get gently used kitchen cabinets. With ReStores, it's an everyone-wins proposition.
Local Kitchen Showrooms
Your best bet for finding display kitchen cabinets that are for sale is to contact showrooms by phone or in person. Ask to speak to the manager. By speaking to the right people and by being patient, you may find showrooms that are willing to part with displays for large price reductions.
Showrooms want the sale to be as easy for them as possible, preferring a local buyer who can take receipt of the cabinets with a delivery truck.
Renovation Angel is an online company based in Fairfield, New Jersey that offers display and other used cabinets that are typically half off the retail price.
Types of Used Kitchen Cabinets You'll Find
Used Working Kitchen Cabinets
Working cabinets have been used in a home for kitchen work, often for many years.
Often the owner or contractor wants to remove these cabinets as part of a kitchen remodel. In sharp contrast with new cabinets that are clean, functioning, and expensive, used kitchen cabinets can sometimes be dirty, beaten up, and often non-functional or unattractive. Usually, these types of used cabinets are very cheap or even free.
Used Display Kitchen Cabinets
Display cabinets are kitchen or bath cabinets that have been set up in a home center or home design showroom.
When the store needs space, goes out of business, or needs to remove a discontinued line, it must remove its display cabinets. Display kitchen cabinets fall in a twilight area between new and used. They may be beaten up, but not as beaten up as cabinets that come from working kitchens. They can be dirty but never dirtied with cooking grease and food residue.
What You Get With Used Cabinets
Used Working Cabinets
With used working kitchen cabinets, you may get a set of cabinets only. Often, you barely even get cabinets, since they can be missing shelves, fixtures, or doors.
With kitchen base cabinets, homeowners might include the countertop, as it has no value to their next set of cabinets. They might include the sink and leave it attached to the kitchen countertop.
Whether or not you want these extras is a factor that you need to consider in advance. That's because some homeowners may include hauling away these extras as a condition for hauling away the cabinets. Know your limits in advance.
Used Display Cabinets
Homeowners usually buy an entire kitchen's worth of cabinets, not just one or two. So, these displays can be full-size 10-foot by 10-foot kitchens and might even include non-cabinet elements such as sinks, faucets, and even lighting. With used display cabinets, you may find quality brand-name cabinets such as Kraftmaid, Merillat, Wellborn, Quality, StyleCraft, and more.
You may find farmhouse-style white/glazed pantry and base cabinets with pullouts, glass door inserts, cutting board, and fixtures, marked down deeply from the original price. Or you might find maple cabinets with soft-closes, including a farmhouse sink, copper faucet, quartz counters, and cabinet lighting, marked down to half of its original price. Along with those accessories, you may also find breadboxes, wine racks, and spice racks.
The reason for all these accessories is because they are display models: manufacturers and retailers want to show off and sell as many extras as possible.
Condition of Used Kitchen Cabinets
Used Working Cabinets
Used working kitchen cabinets are rarely in stellar shape. These cabinets have often been used for years and might be stained with cooking grease and food.
The cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and sides of the cabinet boxes may be delaminating. This is especially true if the cabinets are faced with thermofoil. If the cabinets have already been removed from the kitchen, there is a chance of some breakage.
Used Display Cabinets
Used display cabinets have been used but not for cooking use. Customers open and close the doors and drawers thousands of times and let their children use them as toys while they talk to the service representative.
The cabinet displays are usually dated. If a kitchen cabinet showroom is phasing out a display due to changing trends, then by definition the display is stylistically outdated.
Showrooms like to store heavy items in the drawers such as granite countertop samples and product literature. In general, though, it benefits the showroom to keep those cabinet displays looking as good as possible.