DIY Kitchen Cabinets

Dive into your options for DIY kitchen cabinets, and get ready to create the kitchen of your dreams from scratch.

DIY Kitchen Cabinets

DIY Kitchen Cabinets

A man using a level to install kitchen cabinets.

Photo by: Lisa F. Young

Lisa F. Young

By: Sean McEvoy

If you're more than a little handy and looking to give your kitchen a facelift or install a brand-new kitchen, you may want to explore do-it-yourself, or DIY, kitchen cabinets as an option.

Steep Versus Cheap: Kitchen Cabinetry

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Cheap: Refreshed Painted Cabinetry

If your current cabinets are in good shape but could use an aesthetic update, try brushing on a coat of paint to revive your cabinetry and give it a fresh new look. Design by Judith Balis

Photo By: Designer, Judith Balis

Cheap: Simple Stained Cabinets

While cabinetry with ornate embellishments and fancy storage features can be costly, basic flat-front cabinets will give your kitchen a clean and simple look at a reasonable price. Design by Jennifer Nilsen

Mid-Range: Shaker-Style Cabinets

Upgrade from plain, flat-front cabinetry to Shaker-style cabinets, which will give your kitchen a clean, classic look without breaking the bank. According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, Shaker is one of the most popular styles in cabinetry in 2011, second only to traditional. Image courtesy of Atlantis Kitchens

Mid-Range: Special Storage Features

While specialty storage options were once only offered by custom cabinetmakers, these features are now available in mid-priced fixtures as well. Pullout spice racks, utensil drawers and built-in cutting boards are all available at a reasonable cost. Image courtesy of Merillat

Steep: Custom Cabinetry

Homeowners willing to spend significantly more on their kitchen’s cabinetry may opt for custom cabinets, which are built to exact specifications and can come in a wide range of materials, designs, finishes and accessories. Image courtesy of Plain & Fancy

Steep: Sleek Modern Cabinets

An option for larger budgets, sleek cabinetry with a high-gloss finish provides the perfect backdrop for modern or contemporary kitchens.

The primary benefit of choosing the DIY route for kitchen cabinets is economical. You'll pay a fraction of the cost for materials—and nothing for labor—if you choose to build and install your kitchen cabinets yourself.

Before you begin any DIY kitchen cabinet project, you'll want to thoroughly measure and map the space into which you're installing the cabinets. Create a diagram with measurements noted, so that you can reference the plan during the build and install phases.

The first requirement for DIY kitchen cabinets is carpentry skill. If you're starting from scratch, you can go as far as purchasing raw wood from which to cut doors, frames and interior rails and stiles. One way to save time on a DIY cabinet project is to settle on a cabinet style and wood or material, then purchase that style from a home improvement or furniture store, unfinished. You may pay slightly more than you would for raw materials, but unless you're a serious carpenter, the time and effort you'll save will be worth the added expense.

Assuming you've got your unfinished cabinet template, you'll want to decide on a finish for your cabinets. Stain and paint are the most popular finishes for wood cabinets, with a wide range of both available. You should stain or paint all cabinets before hanging, let them thoroughly dry, then hang them, paying special attention to the sturdiness of their connection to wall studs—cabinets need to bear tremendous weight, so you should ensure they're safely fastened.

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