Every so often contractors or their clients ask about cabinet costs per linear foot. But that pricing method — the unitized system — is a throwback to an earlier time when a carpenter built the cabinet frontal framework and doors, the countertop held the base unit together, and drawers were options friction-fit inside the frame opening. It may have been easy to estimate costs, but it’s not the best method to use today with so many cabinet options.

Option Overload

Now cabinets are priced using a basic entry style along with varying degrees of upgrades. When you send clients to the nearest cabinet shop or designer, have them get answers to these questions:

Box construction: Engineered wood or plywood? The cheapest of both don’t last long; the luxury side can add 10% to 20% to the cost. Frame or frameless? Inset or full overlay doors? Inset doors within a frame will add 10% to 40% to the cost.

Drawer glides: What type? At the low end are epoxy-coated side-mounted glides on ¾ extensions; high-end are under-mount full-extension with soft-closing mechanisms that may add an additional 2% to 5% to the price. Not all undermount glides are created equal. Test a drawer by opening it; cheaper versions often stick.

Center panel: A ¼-inch panel or a reversed raised ¾-inch-thick panel? The difference can mean 10% to 20% added to the cost — depending on wood quality.

Stiles and rails: Today’s homeowners are looking for 3-inch frames and sometimes larger. Each one of these adds to the cost. —Kelly Morisseau, author ofKelly’s Kitchen Sync, a book of insider kitchen design and remodeling tips, works for MSK Design Build, in Northern California.

Related articles:

Industry Snapshot: Annual report gathers cabinet market data

Step out of Frame: Frameless cabinets get attention

Dealer Advantage: The pluses of being a cabinet dealer