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Buying guide: Kitchen cabinets

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Buying guide: Kitchen cabinets

We're replacing all the cabinets in our kitchen and I'm confused as to my options. I've heard of custom-built, semicustom and stock cabinets. Which option should I use?
--David Rhodes

A There are many places to go when looking for kitchen cabinets. You should have a budget in mind, which will determine what type of cabinetry you purchase.

Stock cabinetry is available at DIY centres. The cabinets come in standard widths, between nine and 48 inches, in three-inch increments. These are the most affordable of all cabinetry, but you have to arrange the layout, ordering and installation yourself (although some places will do this for you).

Door styles are limited, and so are the finishes. You can find this type of cabinetry at The Home Depot, RONA Home & Garden, Home Hardware and other reno centres for between $1,000 and $3,000 for 10 linear feet of upper and lower cabinets.

Semicustom factory cabinets aren't actually custom-made; you order them and they're assembled at a factory (although sometimes you have to do it yourself), but can offer more flexibility in terms of sizes, finishes and storage options than stock cabinets. Most semicustom cabinets take anywhere from four to six weeks to arrive. Installation can often be arranged for an additional cost.

Places that sell cabinetry often offer free design services to help you with a layout, finishes and installation. You'll find semicustom cabinetry at Ikea, The Home Depot and Kitchen Craft stores or independent dealers across the country. The cost averages about $3,000 to $7,000 for 10 linear feet of upper and lower cabinets.

Custom cabinetry is made in a carpentry shop by a carpenter; he or she can offer almost any finish, size or style. Carpenters are found via interior designers and architects, and through word of mouth. Many carpenters also advertise and some provide both design and building services. Delivery times can be quite long (12 to 20 weeks), since, depending on the company, it's usually only one carpenter working on all the details of the cabinetry.

Carpenters are most often not kitchen designers, so you may want to hire a certified kitchen designer to design a cabinet style and floor plan for the carpenter to work from. Custom woodworking will cost about $5,000 to $10,000 for 10 linear feet. But many carpenters will find it difficult to quote a job without key specifics; each job is different and costs depend on style, materials and hardware choices.

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Buying Guides

Buying guide: Kitchen cabinets