How to Find Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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You can save money while remodeling to create your dream kitchen! Consider buying unfinished kitchen cabinets. Unstained, unvarnished and ready-to-sand cabinetry is easy to find. With all the affordable choices you'll have, you don't have to imagine your kitchen transformed. You can do it yourself!

Skill level:


    Deciding What to Buy

  1. 1

    Take measurements of your kitchen. Draw a detailed diagram that includes the placement of plumbing, appliances and windows.

  2. 2

    Make a wish list. You can always scale back the list, if necessary. Consider your storage needs.

  3. 3

    Think about your personal style before you look for inspiration. How could your kitchen complement you? Familiarize yourself with various types of cabinets. Consider their durability.

  4. 4

    Consult home improvement publications that include colored photos before making any final decisions.

    Shopping for the Best Quality and Prices

  1. 1

    Check the yellow pages for local retailers that sell unfinished kitchen cabinets.

  2. 2

    Search online. Take detailed notes about each product. Compare quality, durability and price for the best deal. Ask about ratings and warranties before buying.

Tips and warnings

  • There are two basic types of unfinished kitchen cabinets: framed and unframed. Framed cabinets have front edges that box in and narrow the openings. Unframed cabinets can accommodate larger items.
  • Make sure cabinet shelves and drawers are at 3/4-inch thick for strength and durability.
  • All unfinished kitchen cabinets are not the same. Some types of wood absorb stains better than others. A wood's final color depends upon its hardness and original shade. It's easier to darken wood than to lighten it; so, select unfinished cabinets accordingly. Light colored woods are ash, maple, pine, oak, birch, beech, chestnut and elm. Medium colored woods include cherry, teak, butternut and rosewood. Darker colored woods are hickory and mahogany.
  • If you plan on painting, staining or glazing kitchen cabinets, you can use cheaper types of wood. Birch or oak cabinets can be stained to look like expensive mahogany or cherry. Still, always insist on top-quality hardware and construction.
  • Before making your final choice, try various types of stain on samples of wood you're considering. Compare those colors against the rest of your kitchen's woodwork. Which ones complement the furniture you have?
  • Take your sketches along with you when shopping. How will the cabinet doors open? Kitchen doorways and walkways shouldn't be obstructed.
  • Consider the hardware included with unfinished cabinets. Drawer glides allow you to open the drawer completely and smoothly. Standard hardware allows you to see only 3/4 of the drawer's contents.
  • Take pictures while you shop. They will help you remember what you like and imagine how new cabinets will look at home. They will help you shop online for the best pricing.
  • While shopping online, simplify your search by using one or two of the best, comprehensive websites. If the online store you select has no location in your state, your purchase is exempt from sales tax. Consider this savings when making your selection.
  • Don't choose ash unless you want a natural look, or light-colored cabinets. Ash doesn't absorb stains very well.
  • Don't forget to calculate shipping and applicable sales tax. Shipping can be costly. It can spoil a good deal. Look for stores offering free shipping.

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