Cabinet Materials

Woodrow Aames | Improvement Center Columnist | December 14, 2011

Replacing your kitchen cabinets can transform your busiest room in short order. From hardwoods to foil, cabinet materials can be tailored to match your style while turning a tired kitchen into a showpiece. Finding the right balance of durability, design and cost takes research, but it pays off with a lasting solution and enhanced value. Let's look at the most-common kitchen cabinet materials, costs and benefits.

1. Solid woods and hardwoods

Historically, hardwoods like oak, cherry and walnut lend charm and strength through their natural grains. They take a quality stain and can be the perfect choice in fitting an era home or a high-end kitchen. However, they are the most expensive materials on the market, ranging from a low-end $2,500 to a custom price set at more than $10,000 for a ten-foot kitchen.

2. Middle-range woods

If you're priced out of hardwoods, cabinets made from hickory, maple and birch can be extremely dressy alternatives that hold paint efficiently. Although some cuts may not offer solid grain patterns and colors, they stain well to create a uniform surface. Shop carefully and choose the best cuts available. They'll cost upwards of $2,500.

3. Laminates

You can't beat laminates for affordability and an extensive range in color options to match your kitchen scheme. They won't look as stunning as hard wood, but at $1,540 to $2,000 for stock cabinets (for a ten-foot room), you'll like the price. Laminates are stain resistant and easy to clean. On the downside, laminates can be scratched or chipped during normal wear and can be scarred by contact with high heat.

4. Bamboo

Bamboo cabinet materials are in vogue as a green, eco-friendly option. The wood is durable and attractive and can transform the look and feel of your kitchen in a flash. One drawback is bamboo's susceptibility to moisture and warping in wet climates. They'll run you from $8,000 to $14,000, depending on the materials and installation charges.

5. Thermofoil

Thermofoil is made of vinyl applied to a Middle Density Fiberboard (MDF) backing. It holds up well in damp climates that often trouble bamboo and particle-board cabinet materials. Homeowners like the easy maintenance and cleanup of these contemporary cabinets. Thermofoil varies in price and value by manufacturer and runs from $2,000 to $2,700 for the average-sized kitchen.

There can be a wide price range even within the same cabinet materials and styles. You'll pay more for high quality craftsmanship and design. To get custom quotes from local contractors and cabinet suppliers, fill out the form on this page. You're bound to find the right cabinets to revive your kitchen.