What You Need To Know Before Buying Kitchen Cabinets

It’s been almost two months since I walked into Lowe’s ready to order new kitchen cabinets. I was armed with detailed measurements of my kitchen, a scaled blueprint, and a bestie who was equally excited to dive into the process with me.

the tips and tricks of buying new kitchen cabinetsFast forward almost three hours later, and boy did I wish I was a little more prepared. If only I found a post like today’s guide for what you need to know before buying kitchen cabinets… I would have been a lot more prepared!what you need to know before buying new kitchen cabinets

Don’t get me wrong, the process wasn’t hard (and actually was a lot of fun), BUT there was a lot that I didn’t know about buying kitchen cabinets that I could have prepped for to make the process more efficient.

What You Need To Know Before Buying Kitchen Cabinetswhat you need to know before buying kitchen cabinets

I’m here today to share the process with you along with a thorough list of questions you need to be ready to answer, in hopes that this information will save you some time in the store and make your process of buying new kitchen cabinets a lot less intimidating!

What Should You Expect?

So here’s what to expect when going cabinet shopping at Lowe’s or wherever you choose to purchase your cabinets. You’ll meet with a consultant and talk about your plans and vision for your kitchen. Usually, the salesperson will show you around the showroom to view the different cabinet options, countertops, and hardware selections. They may also show some “extras” available or some upgrades that the company offers.

Then most likely they are going to sit down with you at a desk because these kitchen plans are about to become very REAL.

how to measure and prepare for new kitchen cabinetsHe will input your kitchen dimensions into the computer system. Then he will start asking you a BUNCH of questions about your order, which we will get to later in this post. As you answer these questions, this person will be able to put this information in the computer and create computerized imagery of the new look and a cost breakdown for your order.

Here are my BEST tips for what you need to know before buying kitchen cabinets so you can be as PREPARED as possible.

What Should You Bring To The Store?

So before you even enter wherever you’re headed to buy cabinets, you need to make sure you have exact measurements of your current kitchen with you. Most places offer services where they can plug in your dimensions and help draw up a plan of what cabinets you should purchase. But without the measurements, it’s hard to get started in creating an accurate plan.

measuring kitchen for new kitchen cabinetsIf you don’t trust yourself to capture these exact measurements, most stores offer a free measurement if you agree to buy their cabinets. This is a great perk and should be done well in advance of the date you want to start ordering the cabinets.

using a floor plan to purchase new kitchen cabinetsThe next thing you’ll want to know the day you set out to order your cabinets is the layout of your new kitchen. If you want help laying out a new design in your kitchen, many places can offer this service but most likely that process will be done far before it’s time to order the cabinets. I used a designer (as outlined in this post) to help me figure out the perfect layout.

Do I Need An Appointment?making an appointment for new kitchen cabinets

Yes! You’ll want to call ahead and make an appointment with a salesperson so that you have his full attention throughout the process. Lowe’s offer appointments that are approximately 2 hours long to tackle this tall order. And speaking from experience, it can take WAY longer than that if you’re not prepared. I would encourage you to block out at least 2 hours of your life to get this task checked off your to-do list, even if you go in very prepared!

What Questions Do I Need To Answer?

Thankfully I walked into my appointment at Lowe’s with a pretty clear vision of the design of my kitchen. I knew cabinet colors, an idea of what I wanted my hardware to look like, the layout, etc. but I was surprised to find there were so many questions I was NOT prepared for.

Here are the questions I encourage you (and your partner!) to think about before you go…

Cabinet Questions

  • Do you want stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets, or custom cabinets? (this will impact price and timeline)
  • What are the sizes of your appliances? (Here’s a post about the ones I chose).
  • What is the size of your sink? (mostly for under-the-sink cabinet)
  • Do you want your cabinets stained or painted?
  • What cabinet color do you want? (literally, which specific paint color or stain if you’re getting custom cabinets)
  • Do you want the upper cabinets to match the lower cabinets?
  • What design do you want on the front of the cabinet doors?
  • Do you want any of the cabinets to have a different style front? (i.e. glass fronts, frosted fronts)
  • What quality wood do you want the cabinets to be?
  • What hardware color do you want?
  • What hardware style do you want?
  • Do you want the hardware on all of your cabinets to match?
  • How deep do you want your cabinets? (Getting cabinets less than standard will cost extra money)
  • How tall do you need the upper cabinets to be? (Based on ceiling height)
  • Do you want the cabinets to go all the way to the top of the ceiling or do you want them to end lower? If so, how much lower?
  • What type of crown molding or trim will you use on the top of the cabinets?
  • Do you need any vents running under the cabinets and out the kickplate?
  • Will there be any outlets in the cabinets? (Important to think about if you have a hidden microwave or want to hide other appliances)
  • Would you prefer more cabinets or more drawers?
  • Do you want to substitute the cabinets for drawers?
  • What type of lighting do you want under the cabinets?

Countertop Questions

  • What color do you want your countertops to be?
  • What material do you want your countertops to be? (important for maintenance and price point)
  • What style of edging will the edge of your counter have? (there are like 20 options to choose from!)
  • Do you want the counter to fold up onto the wall a bit (also known as a backsplash… not the tile kind) or no?

Other Questions to Considerchoosing hardware for new kitchen cabinets

  • When do you want the cabinets/countertops by?
  • Do you need installation included in this order? Installation of just cabinets? Just countertops? Demo?
  • Do you want a touch-up kit for your cabinets? (Your Answer — YESS!!! Always include a touch-up kit so you can touch up your cabinets if they ever scratch or chip. Having the PERFECT color(s) is essential for this task.)
  • Do you want any “extras” in the cabinets or drawers? (ie. built-in organizers) <– there are SO many personalized options!
  • Lazy susan? Pull out shelves? Wine racks? Spice drawers? Knife drawers? Keurig drawers!? A built-in garbage disposal?

What’s Next?

Pretty crazy how many decisions you need to make when making your kitchen cabinet order isn’t it?! So after you survive all of this decision making… what’s next?!

buying cabinets from Lowe'sUsually, the salesperson will input all of your information and give you a final estimate for the cabinet and countertop order. You can go ahead and move forward with the order if you are confident that everything is accurate, but make sure you double and triple check EVERYTHING first.

Then before you put in the final order, make sure you ask about any sales or upcoming promotions coming up before you finalize the order. Often times companies offer sales on different types of cabinetry or countertops and these sales could save you up to a few thousand dollars!

a complete guide for buying kitchen cabinetsBut before you go, I do want to remind you that shopping for cabinets is fun, so embrace this exciting time! New cabinets don’t happen very often, why not make the most of it?! And hopefully, this post will help prepare you so that the process is even smoother than you are expecting.

And once you get those gorgeous cabinets in, don’t commit this rookie design mistake and fill your countertops with tons of clutter. Instead, follow these tips!


Catch Up On Our New Kitchen


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

your home playbook sidebar