How Buying Used Kitchen Cabinets Can Save You Big Money

Fancy Kitchen Interior
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Used kitchen cabinets of acceptable quality are one way to pare down the considerable costs associated with new cabinets.

Yes, savings can be deep. But unless you are prepared to take on major detective work, you may want to look at other cost-saving measures, such as buying RTA (ready to assemble) cabinets.

What Exactly Are "Old" Cabinets?

Previously owned cabinets are found in two major forms: used or display.

Used Working Cabinets: Kitchen cabinets that have been used in a home for kitchen work.  

  • Reason for Removal: The owner or contractor wants to remove these cabinets as part of a kitchen remodel.
  • Condition: While new cabinets are clean, functioning, and expensive, used kitchen cabinets can be dirty, beaten up, often non-functional or downright nasty.
  • Costs: Used cabinets are very cheap or even free.

Used Display Cabinets: Cabinets that have been displayed in a home improvement store or kitchen/bath remodeling showroom.

  • Reason For Removal: When you visit a home improvement store or a local kitchen/bath remodeling showroom, you will see between two to eight kitchen cabinet displays mocked up to look like real kitchens. When a store needs space, goes out of business, or wants to get rid of a discontinued line, it must remove their display cabinets.
  • Condition: Display kitchen cabinets fall in a twilight area between new and used. They may be beaten, but not as beaten as cabinets that come from real kitchens. They can be dirty but never dirtied with cooking grease and food residue.
  • Costs: They are not rock-bottom inexpensive like the ones that have just been pulled from a kitchen demo, but they are not as expensive as new.

What You Get

Since homeowners usually buy an entire kitchen's worth of cabinets, not just one or two, these displays can be full-size 10'x10' kitchens (an industry pricing standard), along with 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. It is common to find farmhouse-style white/glazed pantry and base cabinets, with pullouts, glass door inserts, cutting board, and fixtures--marked down 75% from its original price.

Actual examples: maple cabinets with soft-closes, including a farmhouse sink, copper faucet, quartz counters, and cabinet lighting, marked down 50% from its original price of nearly $10,000.

You will find those accessories, plus breadboxes, wine racks, spice racks, and you-name-it. The reason for all these accessories? As these are display models, the manufacturers and retailers want to show off (and sell) as many extras as possible.

The cabinet displays for sale can be dated. If a kitchen cabinet showroom is getting rid of a display due to changing trends, then by definition the display is stylistically outdated. If you don't care about following trends, you can ignore this.

These cabinets have gotten use but not cooking use. Customers open and close the doors and drawers thousands of times and let their children use them as play-toys while they talk to the service representative.

Showrooms like to store heavy items, such as granite countertop samples, in the drawers. But in general, it benefits the showroom to keep those cabinet displays looking as good as possible.

Resources

  • Green Demolitions: This online company offers display and other used cabinets that are typically half off the retail price.
  • Craigslist: You will find some kitchen cabinet displays for sale listed on Craiglist.org or eBay. Because it costs so much to ship cabinets, local is the only way to go. Any money you save will be offset by shipping costs. Showrooms want the sale to be as easy for them as possible, preferring a local buyer who can take receipt with a delivery truck or pick them up.
  • Legwork: Your best bet for finding display kitchen cabinets that are for sale--or will be for sale soon--is to contact showrooms by phone or in person. Ask to speak to the Showroom Manager. By shaking enough trees, you will find showrooms willing to part with displays for large price reductions.