Cabinet construction may well end up being the single biggest expense of your entire renovation, and the results are the most obvious visual proof of your investment, so this can feel like a difficult decision. The challenge (and opportunity) is that your choices are endless, but if you focus on a few key factors, you can find the right cabinets for your kitchen renovation.
If you are looking to purchase new kitchen cabinets but are on a tight budget, then find out why you should go with Ikea cabinets instead of Home Depot.
If you’ve ever remodelled a kitchen or are considering a remodel soon, then you know how stressful it can be to pick the right cabinets. Cabinets are the biggest expense for a kitchen remodel, and you don’t want to mess it up and get the wrong kind. There are almost countless cabinet lines to choose from, which doesn’t exactly make the process any easier. Plus, you have to decide between custom cabinets versus box cabinets.
While it’s tempting to assume that your budget is the only consideration and while it’s true that custom cabinets can be (much, much) more expensive than stock cabinets, they don’t have to be, even the cheapest kitchen is an enormous investment, so if budget isn’t necessarily the deciding factor, how should you decide and how can you keep your budget from dictating your choices? First, a few definitions. Looking for a kitchen renovation? Check out the range at Hitch Property Constructions.
Should you go with custom or prefabricated cabinets?
IKEA is widely considered the go-to for stock cabinets. Unlike almost anyone else, they mass-produce a system of set sizes, colours, finishes, and features that you pick and choose. The pieces of your order are pulled from stock supplies and shipped to your home, where you need to handle both the assembly and installation. IKEA keeps its costs low because they are sending your order to you in pieces and because the materials they use are very inexpensive.
Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other big-box national retailers are distributors of independent lines of cabinets. They offer a semi-custom option: like IKEA, you pick and choose from set sizes, colours, finishes, and features (though national retailers tend to have more options overall). Unlike IKEA, your order is then manufactured and assembled for you so that your cabinets arrive ready for installation. Because you have more choice in materials and construction, the range of prices varies more here. You will probably pay more upfront for higher-quality materials, but you may spend less on labour because the cabinets are assembled before they get to you for installation.
Custom cabinets are designed and constructed by hand based on your design. You define the sizes, materials, finishes, and features and your order is hand-crafted and delivered for installation. Because your choices for materials and construction are endless, the range of material and labour costs is very wide. The costs here are generally distributed between your choice of material and style, labour, and a more personalised design and customer service approach.
Hitch Property Constructions has an extensive range of kitchen renovation Melbourne to take the hassle out of deciding the right furniture that matches.
High-end, built-to-order cabinet systems
A small group of cabinet companies also offer cabinetry systems that are extremely high-end (Bulthaup and Henrybuilt are examples). These companies are known for beautiful and durable cabinet construction and best-in-industry warranties. Still, the bare minimum for even a small kitchen can easily exceed $20,000, so unlike other categories of cabinet construction, this option is only available if the starting point for your budget allows you to consider it.
Custom cabinets might be worth extra money if you plan to stay for years, have kids or a high-traffic kitchen, or want personalised support. Cost aside, prefabricated cabinets might work best for you if your renovation timeline is speedy or you feel overwhelmed by choice.
IKEA vs. Home Depot: Which should you choose for a kitchen renovation?
How prices compare
Most Home Depot kitchens will be in the $20,000 to $25,000 range, installed, while you can have an IKEA kitchen for $10,000 to $15,000 (plus installation), not including the flooring.
Prices at Home Depot depend on whether you go with ready-to-assemble (RTA) options or their pre-assembled stock cabinetry, which can range from $100 to over $3,000 per cabinet. Custom options will cost even more.
IKEA cabinets start at $75 and top out at $1,600, with the bulk falling in the $200 to $300 range.
What the experts say about durability
Even though the quality of stock cabinets from IKEA and Home Depot is not the same as custom work, DiClerico says they’re surprisingly sturdy and durable.
All IKEA cabinets are made with medium-density fiberboard (MDF); same for many of Home Depot’s RTA products, while others are made of plywood.
Only a couple of the experts interviewed had enough (or any) experience with Home Depot products to speak to how well they hold up over time, though you can read reviews on the website to get a sense of what customers have to say.
On the other hand, all experts agreed that IKEA kitchens are built to last, at least when it comes to the “box” or core components and the hinges and inner hardware. Having installed some 60 to 80 IKEA kitchens over the past seven years, Steich recounts never getting a callback from clients unlike with other types of cabinets. That’s saying something.
The fronts are the exception. For one, they are five-eighths of an inch thick compared to the standard three-quarters of an inch you’ll find with most Home Depot brands (and the standard in the industry). They are also prone to dings and scratches.
That’s why most experts often go with other options.
Buyer beware: The warranty is 25 years for IKEA cabinets and fronts (and only ten years for faucets and five years for appliances). Home Depot offers a limited lifetime warranty—be sure to read the fine print.
Which one has more selection?
Home Depot has more options. That’s because IKEA primarily sells its own branded products, while Home Depot carries a bunch of different brands.
Having fewer choices can certainly ease the decision-making process, especially now that IKEA has consolidated its former kitchens under the SEKTION umbrella. All the cabinet and drawer components work together and can even share interior space. They have also been expanding options for the fronts, including the most recent introduction of BODARP (made partially from recycled plastic bottles).
With Home Depot, you have to evaluate each of the different brands. That can be a plus or minus depending on your patience and perseverance. Having lots of options isn’t always the end-all-be-all either. Armbruster once inquired about a Martha Stewart kitchen at Home Depot and decided against it because the components wouldn’t arrive in time for the small project’s work schedule.
On the other hand, she finds IKEA to be much more customisable given companies like Semihandmade and Reform that specifically make IKEA-compatible fronts in a range of finishes and styles––and you can paint them any colour you want.
One final style point: Home Depot offers a “cabinet makeover” service where they refinish the existing fronts, and some are easy enough to repaint on your own. IKEA cabinets cannot easily be repainted without some major stripping, preferably by taking them to a millworker. Of course, you can always buy new fronts, but that might not be something you want to do. Check out our range of kitchen renovation at Hitch Property Constructions.
Ikea Cabinet Quality is the Best for Their Price
If you are on a tight budget, then you will get the biggest bang for your buck at Ikea. Lowe’s and Home Depot do offer box cabinets for similar pricing to Ikea’s cabinets. However, they are not made with as high-quality materials as Ikea cabinets.
When comparing Home Depot versus Ikea cabinets, the Home Depot cabinets felt much cheaper, and they weren’t made as well. Their base wasn’t as thick or as durable.
We faced the same issue when looking at Lowe’s versus Ikea cabinets. Lowe’s did have some cabinets similar to the quality of Ikea but at twice the cost.
Ikea builds their cabinets with thicker bases, and you can choose extremely durable faces for your cabinets. Also, there are additional standard features for Ikea cabinets which I’ll talk more about later.
We ended up choosing a high-gloss turquoise cabinet for our kitchen. We chose high-gloss because they are scratch-resistant and easy to clean. Also, the turquoise will look fantastic with our light walls and white backsplash.
You do need to know that Ikea’s Sektion cabinets are flat packed – meaning you will need to build them or find someone to build them for you. I would rather build them myself and know they are built well and to my standards.
In addition to the high-grade materials used, Ikea cabinets and drawers have soft close hinges. This means the doors and drawers will never slam again. Imagine never having to hear a slamming cabinet door at home ever again.
Ikea Customer Service is Simply Fantastic
When we went to Ikea, I was blown away at the quality of customer service they offered. After interacting with a handful of employees, I couldn’t find a single disgruntled or grumpy employee. They were all willing to help us find what we needed when we headed to the kitchen department.
The lady who helped us finalise our kitchen plan even stayed past her shift to help us! When we wanted a different colour cabinet piece, they made sure we got just the right colour – and quickly too.
All of the employees were happy, helpful, and more than willing to answer our questions. I’ve never had a favourite retail store, at least not until now.
Ikea is now officially my favourite retail store, and I’m not even ashamed to admit it. I even received a survey to fill out from Ikea. I never fill out surveys, but I filled out this one because of the top-notch customer service Ikea offers.
We Picked up 99% of everything In-Store, and they Shipped the Rest.
Another reason Ikea is amazing is that every Ikea is essentially a showroom and warehouse. What that means is you go into Ikea and will more than likely walk out with what you planned on buying (and perhaps a little bit more).
For example, Ikea had all of the cabinet supplies we ordered already in stock except for three pieces. I was pretty happy they had a few pieces out of stock because there was no extra room to pack more cabinets into our little car!
Fitting 13 flat-packed cabinets into a Chevy Sonic is quite the feat, to be honest. Let’s say we’re experts at Tetris now. RIP our car’s shocks.
For those three pieces they didn’t have in stock, they said they could ship the order directly to our house in less than a week. We only paid $9 for shipping, and it did indeed arrive in less than a week right to our front door.
Shop, Eat and Pick-Up Your Order – All in a Few Hours
Overall, the whole process of buying cabinets from Ikea was so easy and convenient. We had a pre-made model of the kitchen plan we wanted using Ikea’s Kitchen planning tool. It’s like having an assistant kitchen designer on your computer.
It’s pretty nifty, and we used it to make a 3D model of all the cabinets that we wanted to put in our kitchen. It gave us a good idea of what we needed before we got to the store.
When we got to the kitchen department, one of the employees helped us finalise our initial kitchen design. She caught a few things we overlooked and was an expert at kitchen planning.
She reviewed our plan and even made it better. The overall planning time only took 45 minutes or so in-store. It went even more smoothly because we went in prepared with our plan.
I’ve heard people say that Ikea meatballs are good. But, man, oh man, they are so good! I was amazed at how good they taste. I would almost drive the hour and a half to Ikea just for the meatballs.
After eating, we waited for about another hour while they finished gathering our order. Once the order was gathered, we loaded everything up into our car, and we were off.
From start to finish, the whole process only took 3 hours – which is amazing considering we planned, purchased, ate dinner, and left with the cabinet supplies during that time.
I loved the Ikea cabinet buying process, at least as much as I could have. It’s a great experience that neither Lowe’s nor Home Depot can provide.
Final Pros and Cons of Ikea Cabinets
- Durability: There’s no doubt Ikea’s cabinets and hardware are extremely durable. At ~¾” thickness (18 mm to be exact), the cabinets can hold a lot of weight. Also, the cabinets’ surface is coated with melamine, which is scratch and moisture resistant (yes please).
- Soft Close Hinges: Ikea drawers have a soft close built into them while you can buy the door dampeners for your cabinets. The door dampeners were well worth the small, extra cost never to have to hear a cabinet door slam again.
- Practical Cost: Ikea cabinets aren’t the most expensive cabinet, nor are they the cheapest. They are, however, the most cost-effective cabinet you can buy in my opinion. After researching other cabinet lines and taking into account durability, style, and cost, we decided Ikea had the best value for cabinets.
- Tons of Different Sizes and Styles: It’s pretty safe to say that Ikea will have the cabinet front that matches your style. They’ve got sleek and modern fronts, traditional and sophisticated, and more. Check them all out here.
- 25 Year Warranty – Ikea’s Sektion cabinets, in particular, come with a 25 Year Limited Warranty. Any company that offers a warranty that long really stands behind their products.
- You Have to Build Them Yourself (unless you hire someone) – Ikea cabinets do come flat packed, which means you do have to build them unless you have a handy friend or want to hire someone to build them.
- Cabinets Not Completely Custom – While Ikea cabinets have tons of options for cabinet fronts, they aren’t completely customisable. However, Completely custom cabinets are at least double the cost.
- Beware of Plaster Walls – Our house, in particular, had plastic walls with curved corners and parts of the wall that jutted out. It was a headache cutting the backside of the cabinets because our house has such erratic lines. You’ll most likely be fine if your home has drywall installed.
Ikea Cabinets Purchase Summary
So far, we are more than impressed with our purchase from Ikea. All of the supplies are solid and well packed. There will be a learning curve to assemble the cabinets. We’re excited to share these ideas and start building them. We likely will say a few choice words when you assemble the first couple of cabinets.