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Designing new bathroom vanities
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If you’re thinking about renovating your kitchen, you’re probably wondering – why do cabinets cost so much? Well, many aspects influence the cost of cabinets. Our renovation experts are here to explain exactly what those factors are and how much you can expect to pay for new cabinets in Edmonton. Plus, we’ll discuss some ways you can save on kitchen cabinets when renovating your home.

Why do cabinets cost so much?

Your kitchen cabinets will account for about 40% or more of your total kitchen renovation budget. There are many reasons that cabinets are one of the biggest kitchen renovation costs. The factors that most significantly affect the price of cabinets include:

Kitchen Size

When people ask, “Why do cabinets cost so much?” we explain that the biggest factor affecting price is the size of a kitchen. The cost to buy one cabinet may not be too bad. However, the larger your kitchen, the more cabinets you’ll need. Even small kitchens will require several cabinets (at least) for proper functionality. Therefore, costs add up quickly.

Type of Material Used

Kitchen cabinets can be made from various materials. Some of these materials will be much more costly than others. For example, hardwood cabinets (e.g. cherry, walnut etc.) are more expensive than those made from melamine.

While options like solid wood will cost more, it’s important to keep in mind that more expensive options are often more durable than lower-end materials. Therefore, it may be beneficial to spend more money upfront for something that will stand the test of time.

Cabinet Features

In addition to the material you choose to use, you’ll also have to decide what features you want your cabinets to have. For example, do you want your cabinet doors and drawers to soft-close? The more features you want, the more expensive your cabinets will be.

Edmonton kitchen with new cabinets

Cabinet Quality

Cabinet quality also plays a significant role in why do cabinets cost so much. When it comes to cabinet quality, you have several options, including:

  • Pre-built cabinets
  • Ready to assemble cabinets
  • Semi-custom cabinets
  • Custom cabinets

As with most products, the more unique and custom your cabinets are, the more they will cost.


The cost of cabinet hardware is often overlooked by Edmonton homeowners. In most cases, new cabinets will not come with hardware included. Therefore, you will need to purchase handles and knobs at an additional cost.

The cost of hardware is impacted by what the handle or knob is made from, as well as how detailed it is. Like with kitchen cabinets, the cost of hardware adds up quickly. The more cabinets you have, the more hardware you’ll need.

Keep in mind, you’ll want to match the look and feel of your kitchen cabinets. Therefore, if you’ve used high-end materials for the cabinets, you will likely want to purchase high-end hardware as well.

Layout and Design

Some Edmonton kitchen renovations are more straightforward than others – and this can have a huge impact on why do cabinets cost so much.

If you have a simple layout and want a basic design, your cabinet costs will be lower. However, if your kitchen has a unique shape and you require a custom layout, you’ll be looking at a much higher price. That being said, the functionality of your kitchen should be a top priority. Therefore, it makes sense to spend extra to ensure the design and layout of your cabinets work well for the space.

Cabinet Installation

As with any renovation project, labour will make up a large portion of your cabinet expenses. Installing kitchen cabinets is a job that requires expert knowledge and precision. Therefore, unless you are a trained professional, it will be necessary to hire a contractor to get the job done right.

The larger the kitchen and the more difficult the job (e.g. if you have a unique layout), the more expensive installation will be. As well, different renovation companies will charge different labour fees.

The key here is to find a trusted local Edmonton renovation contractor that will ensure your cabinets are properly installed. Although working with experienced professionals may cost more, it will save you in the long run by ensuring that the job is done right the first time. Working with reno experts will also guarantee that your cabinets and drawers function properly. This will save you the headache of dealing with cabinets and drawers that don’t open and close correctly!

Old Cabinet Removal

Another factor that affects the question of why do cabinets cost so much is the removal of the old cabinets. Before new cabinets can be installed the old ones must be removed. While this isn’t as difficult as installing new cabinets, it does take time. Plus, if you’d like to reuse any of the materials, this process will be even more time-consuming and difficult.

There may also be damage that needs to be repaired before new cabinets can be installed. On top of this, the old cabinets must be properly disposed of – yet another cost that will impact the total price.

Now that we’ve examined the reasons why cabinets cost so much, let’s take a look at some of the aspects you should consider when choosing your new kitchen cabinets.

Measuring new custom kitchen cabinets

Is it cheaper to buy cabinets or have them built?

As with most products, custom-built cabinets will cost more than pre-built ones. Therefore, it will be cheaper to buy cabinets than to have them built. This is the case for several reasons, the most notable being the cost of labour.

Cabinet making is a detailed and precise job. As a result, highly skilled cabinet makers are required to build kitchen cabinets. This means the cost of labour will be high. Keep in mind, if you have the skills to build the cabinets yourself, you can save hundreds (even thousands) of dollars! On the other hand, buying pre-made cabinets from a big box store will be much cheaper. These cabinets are mass-produced, allowing these large companies to charge much less.

When choosing which route to go, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for durable and long-lasting cabinets, the option that is the cheapest up-front is not necessarily the best choice. In fact, in some cases, cheaper cabinets may end up costing you more in the long run. High-quality cabinets will last longer and experience fewer issues.

Why Do Cabinets Cost So Much – Quality

When it comes to cabinet quality, there are several different options to choose from.

Ready to Assemble Cabinets


  • Available at stores like IKEA and Home Depot.
  • Often the most cost-effective option.


  • May still need to be assembled by a professional.
  • Limited material options and styles.

Pre-Built Cabinets


  • These cabinets come in specific sizes and are pre-built for added convenience.
  • Available in various materials.
  • More cost-effective than custom and semi-custom options.


  • The size of the cabinets cannot be changed. Therefore, this option may not be suitable for all kitchens.

Semi-Custom Cabinets


  • Lots of selection in materials, styles and design.
  • Often better quality than pre-built and ready to assemble options.
  • Can be custom fit to your kitchen layout and design.
  • Mid-range option.


  • More expensive than pre-built alternatives.

Custom Cabinets


  • Endless design, style and material options.
  • Custom-made to perfectly fit your kitchen and desired layout.


  • Highest priced option.

Now that we’ve examined why do cabinets cost so much, let’s take a look at how much you can actually expect to pay. These price estimates will help you decide which cabinets are best for your kitchen and budget.

Kitchen renovation estimate in Edmonton showing why do cabinets cost so much

How much should I expect to pay for kitchen cabinets in Edmonton?

Edmonton homeowners can expect to pay approximately $8,500 to $60,000 or more for cabinets. Again, the total cost will depend on the size of your kitchen, as well as the type, style and cabinet material you choose. The kitchen renovation contractor that installs your cabinets will also play a role in the total cost.

As discussed above, when it comes to cabinet materials, the price will vary significantly. Some of the most common materials used for kitchen cabinets, along with their average price, are as follows.

Please note: this is the cost for an average kitchen and includes installation.

  • Melamine – $9,400+
  • Polyester – $13,000+
  • Lacquered – $19,500+
  • Hardwood – $22,000+

Price will also vary depending on whether your cabinets are pre-built or custom-made. Prices for these options are as follows. Keep in mind, these prices do not include delivery or installation.

  • Ready to assemble – $90 to $975+ per cabinet
  • Pre-built options – $160 to $1,200+ per cabinet
  • Semi-custom – $300 – $1,500+ per cabinet
  • Custom – $650+ per cabinet

Want to save money on cabinets? Here’s how you can cut costs.

How to Save Money on Cabinets

There are a few different ways you can save money on cabinets. Here are the best ways to save money without significantly sacrificing quality.

1. Consider alternatives to brand new cabinets

If you’re on a tight budget, there are many options that will allow you to give your kitchen a refresh without completely replacing your cabinets. For example, consider refinishing the cabinet doors. This is the most cost-effective option and could help you save thousands of dollars, especially if you can refinish the cabinets yourself.

If you decide to refinish your cabinets, you can expect to spend $300 to $5,000 or more. Of course, this depends on the amount of work that needs to be done and whether or not you hire a contractor to help.

Here are some other alternatives to replacing your old cabinets:

  • Refacing – $2,800+ (depending on the architectural vinyl film you use)
  • Repainting – $5,000+ (if you hire someone)
  • Refinishing – $5,200+ (depending on the veneer or laminate you choose)

Homeowner does kitchen demolition after learning why do cabinets cost so much

2. Do your own demolition to eliminate one of the biggest factors of why do cabinets cost so much

You can save quite a bit of money doing your own demolition. Keep in mind, this option isn’t right for everyone. If you’ve never done demolition work before it might be worth hiring a contractor. This is because any damage that you cause during demolition will need to be repaired before your new cabinets can be installed. However, if you are confident that you can do it yourself, this is a great way to save some money.

3. If you decide to buy new cabinets, consider ready to assemble options

Opting for ready to assemble or pre-made cabinets can help you save up to 50%! However, these pre-made cabinets come in specific sizes and dimensions and, therefore, may not work for all kitchens.

4. Choose middle-of-the-line hardware

Cabinet hardware can cost a lot. However, selecting a middle-of-the-road option will help you save money without sacrificing the look, feel and durability of your kitchen.

Why Do Kitchen Cabinets Cost So Much – The Silver Lining

An up-to-date, functional and aesthetically pleasing kitchen can help you sell your home faster and for a higher price. Therefore, the money you spend on renovating your kitchen can be looked at as an investment. So, even though kitchen cabinets do cost a lot, the increased value of your home will offset the price of your renovation.

Get Started on Your Kitchen Renovation with a Free Estimate from Nord Alta

If you’re ready to invest in your kitchen, the best place to start is with an estimate!

At Nord Alta, we want to make sure Edmonton homeowners are aware of renovation costs upfront. Therefore, we offer free, detailed estimates to help you create a reasonable budget.

Book a free kitchen renovation estimate today!