How To Buy Kitchen Cabinets

Transform your kitchen with long-lasting new cabinets

Updating your cabinets can completely transform the look, feel and efficiency of your kitchen. This guide will teach you which materials and styles best meet your needs. Additionally, check out our Cabinet Refacing Buying Guide to learn about replacing cabinet fronts for a cost-effective alternative to all new cabinets.

Tip: The Home Depot offers free in-store consultations with Kitchen Designers who will work with you to review your floor plan and find the perfect cabinets to fit your style and budget.

Stock, Semi-Custom and Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Measure your available kitchen space and figure out your budget to choose between stock, semi-stock and custom cabinets.



Stock

  • Economical pricing; often available same day of purchase
  • Available in 3” width increments ranging from 12”-60” wide
  • Standard height: 30”-36”
  • Above-stove height: 12”-18”

Semi-custom

  • Mid-range prices; require several days for delivery
  • Wider selection of wood & finish choices; range of storage options
  • Enhancements: pull-out shelves, lazy Susans, dividers
  • Same available sizes as stock cabinets

Custom

  • Most expensive option
  • Handmade to fit your specific kitchen
  • Ideal for irregularly shaped spaces
  • Delivery time: 9 or more weeks
  • Can be built in increments up to 1/32”


Base, Wall and Tall Cabinets and Sizes

Base cabinets support countertops, wall cabinets hang above counters or stoves, and tall cabinets are popular choices for pantries.


Cabinets and Sizes

Base cabinets

  • Rests on floor to support countertop
  • Typically between 34-1/2”-36” tall and 24”-30” deep
  • Can be specialized to include sink or corners

Wall cabinets

  • Hang on wall
  • Standard height 12”, 15”, 18”, 30”, 36” & 42”; 12”-18” depth
  • Typically installed 18” above countertops, 54” above floor & 24” above stove

Tall cabinets

  • Ideal for narrow spaces such as pantries
  • 84”-94” tall; standard depth 12”-18”


Framed vs. Frameless

Choose between framed and frameless cabinets depending on your storage needs and kitchen décor.

Framed cabinets, also known as face-framed cabinets, have a frame on the front of the cabinet that makes the box highly stable and helps keep it square. Door hinges attach to the frame. Framed cabinets complement both traditional and contemporary décor.

Frameless cabinets, also known as European-style cabinets, have no frame around the face of the cabinet box. Thicker side panels lend stability, and drawers and hinges attach directly to the cabinet’s side walls. Because drawers do not have to fit in a frame’s opening, they can be as wide as the cabinet, providing more storage. Frameless cabinets are often used with contemporary décor.

Materials

Wood, particleboard, plywood and MDF are often used to construct cabinets.

Particleboard: Made of wood chips or shavings bonded together with resin and compressed into rigid sheets. An economical alternative to solid wood, particleboard is very stable and is often used in stock cabinets as an underlayment for plastic laminates and wood veneers in the panels for the box and shelving. Particleboard doesn’t warp, shrink or swell due to humidity, but should be properly sealed to avoid moisture. Particleboard is assembled using glue or mechanical fasteners.

Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF): An engineered wood made from fine wood particles and glue formed into sheets, MDF is often used as a backing material for laminates and other finishes. MDF is very dense, resists warping and has a smooth surface suitable for veneers, laminates and paints. It is often used in mid-priced cabinetry.

Plywood: This engineered wood is composed of layers of veneers stacked and glued together with alternate layers oriented at right angles, providing strength in its length and width. Furniture-grade plywood is used in custom cabinetry. Because heat and moisture cause wood to expand and contract in the direction of the grain, plywood’s cross-grain pattern makes it more stable and stronger than solid wood. Plywood is often used for cabinet boxes and shelves in higher-priced cabinetry.

Wood Veneers & Laminates

Exposed areas of particleboard, MDF and plywood are typically covered with wood veneers, durable laminates and other synthetic materials.

Wood veneers

Wood veneers

  • Affordable and versatile
  • Offer protection for vehicles & equipment
Thermofoil

Thermofoil

  • Bring shade to area or walkway
  • Beautiful additional décor
Laminates

Laminates

  • Provide stylish outdoor shaded seating
  • Can be used for outdoor storage
Melamine

Melamine

  • Structure: Similar to laminate; made of a durable plastic applied to cabinet with heat, pressure and adhesive
  • Durable, easy to clean, and resists stains, chipping and fading

Overlays

The overlay is the manner in which the door rests on the face of the cabinet. The two types of overlays are standard and full.  

Homedepot Image

Standard overlays, also known as traditional overlays, leave the face of the cabinet box visible around doors and drawers, creating a visible frame called the “reveal.” The reveal can range from ½” to 1” around doors and drawers. Standard overlays are the most common type in cabinets, used in traditional design installations.  

Homedepot Image

Full overlays have the cabinet doors mounted so they completely cover the cabinet box with virtually no cabinet frame showing around doors and drawer fronts. Doors may be separated by as little as 1/8”. This style of overlay is most often used in contemporary design installations. Full overlays can affect the cost of your cabinets because more material is used in their construction.

Tip: Full overlays are used on all frameless cabinets, and can be used on framed cabinets as well.

Wood Types

Each type of wood varies widely in how it absorbs stains and glazes, providing a wide range of options for individual colors and finishes.

Features Grain Hardness Color Unique Attributes
Cherry

Fine to Medium

Hard

Mid-Dark

Pin knots

Maple

Fine

Very hard

Light

Wavy variations

Oak

Coarse

Very hard

Light

Streaks & Pin Knots

hickory

Coarse

Very hard

Varies greatly

Specks, burls & streaks

Door Design

Once you’ve selected the wood type for your doors, you’ll need to choose from slab, recessed panel, Shaker or other popular door designs.

Tip: Door designs can be further enhanced by replacing wood panels with decorative glass, turning storage into displays, especially when paired with in-cabinet lighting.

Slab

Slab

Flat, clean canvas for hardware with a streamlined and minimalistic style ideal for contemporary designs

Recessed panel

Recessed panel

Similar to slab with a minimal style that adds depth and interest. Versatile enough to go with country or modern designs.

Raised panel

Raised panel

A classic style that blends well with formal, traditional décor

Shaker

Shaker

Known for its simplicity and favored for its warm, casual feel, the Shaker style is ideal for understated looks

Cape Cod

Cape Cod

Reminiscent of bead-board and ideal for a cottage look with a casual, timeless style that blends well in informal kitchens

Arch

Arch

Adds sweeping elegance to most kitchens. Styles include a raised panel

Hardware

 Drawer pulls, knobs and hinges unify your cabinets’ appearance and define your kitchen’s personality.

Complement your cabinet’s architectural style with hardware made of metal, ceramic, crystal or plastic. For example, simple cabinetry designs like Shaker work well with brass while contemporary styles can be enhanced with sleek horizontal pulls and handles in stainless steel or brushed chrome.

Choose hinges with both style and functionality in mind because the type of hinge is determined by how your doors fit the cabinet.

  • Inset doors should be mounted with surface, butt or wraparound hinges.
  • Rabetted doors with a recess or groove are usually installed with exposed lipped hinges
  • Overlay doors should be installed with invisible Euro-style hinges.

Accessories & Add-Ons

Get the most out of your kitchen cabinets with accessories that help maximize storage and reduce clutter on countertops.

  • Pull-out shelf: Provides quick access to everything on the shelf.
  • Two-tiered cutlery/flatware dividers: Store nearly twice as many utensils and flatware.
  • Lazy Susans: Access corner cabinets with one- and two-tiered spinning shelves.
  • Pegged plate organizers: Slide out for easy access to plates, and have adjustable pegs for flexible storage.