How to finance kitchen cabinets

How to finance kitchen cabinets

If your kitchen’s looking tired, new or updated cabinets can wake it right up. Cabinetry is the most defining feature in your kitchen—it sets the tone for everything else in the room. If the cabinets are dull, your whole kitchen feels boring.

Kitchens are such a focal point in the home, it’s no surprise that two of the top five most common home improvement projects involve the kitchen. In first place is a complete kitchen remodel, and refacing kitchen cabinets comes in at number five.

If you’re thinking about an upgrade, this guide to kitchen cabinet financing will tell you what you need to know before you start—and how to choose the right financing option to pay for it. Homeowners can become pre-qualified for personal loans by up to 11 lending partners, all without affecting their credit score. Read on for more information about financing and see your personalized options here.   

What are the options for kitchen cabinet financing?

Let’s be honest—unless your kitchen was damaged in a fire or something equally devastating, replacing kitchen cabinets is rarely an urgent project. And most personal finance experts will tell you to save up and pay cash for home improvement projects whenever you can.

On the other hand, if you’re going to finance a project, updating your kitchen has a better return on investment when it’s time to sell than many other home improvements you might make.

So what can you do if you don’t have $5,000 or $10,000 lying around for your new kitchen cabinets? Luckily, there are several financing options that allow you to pay for new cabinets over several years. Explore these options and check your eligibility for loans here

Personal home improvement loans

These loans are unsecured—all you need is decent credit, proof of income, and a signature to qualify. You don’t need to tap into your home equity (assuming you have enough to cover the project), so your home isn’t at risk.

Personal home improvement loans are great if you plan to spend more than about $2,000; you can get them in any amount you want up to about $35,000, which should more than cover your kitchen cabinets.

From a budgeting perspective, these are probably your most dependable option—the interest rate is fixed, meaning your payments won’t change over the life of your loan. Loan terms generally run between 3 and 7 years, so you can get your payments where you need them. And if you want to pay them off early, there’s no prepayment penalty.

On the downside, you’ll pay a higher interest rate than you would with a home equity loan or HELOC, but the application and approval process is far more streamlined—you’ll usually have your money in just a day or two compared to a month or more with home equity products. Plus, there are no application fees or other hidden expenses; you’ll pay a simple loan origination fee when your loan is funded.

Click here to find a personal loan for home improvement.

Home improvement credit cards

Home improvement credit cards can be a great option if you’re doing a lower cost cabinet project. Most of them offer a 0% introductory rate for the first 6 to 12 months, which means you won’t pay any finance charges if you can pay off your balance during that time.

On the other hand, home improvement credit cards have the highest interest rates, once the introductory term expires, of all your financing options. You’re looking at 16% to 22% APR in most cases, which really drives up your monthly payments.

If you’re doing your cabinets DIY, credit cards are a flexible and easy-to-use option—you can buy things as you need them, up to your credit limit.

Overall, if you can pay off your balance during the 0% introductory period, home improvement credit cards are a great way to go.

Knowing your financing options lets you move confidently into the next step in planning your kitchen cabinet upgrade.

Click here to find a home improvement credit card.

Set your kitchen cabinet budget

If new cabinets are part of a complete kitchen remodel, you’ll spend about 30% to 40% of your total budget on cabinetry. If you’re simply upgrading your existing cabinets, sticking more or less to your current layout, you can spend anywhere from around $1,800 for stock or ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets all the way up to $18,000 or more for custom cabinet work.

The point is, it’s important to set your budget and assess your financing options before you start to shop, and let that figure drive your cabinet choices. That way, you won’t waste time looking at options that you can’t afford—and you won’t throw a wrench in your finances for the next several years by overspending.

Cabinet expenses to consider

In addition to the actual cabinets themselves, you may need to budget for other expenses, as well. Learn about financing options for the whole project that won’t break the bank.

  • Installation. Professional cabinet installation adds another 50% to 75% to the cost of the project, although you can cut that figure significantly if there’s a handyman you trust to do the work. Of course, if you are an experienced DIYer, you can skip these costs altogether.
  • Hardware. Custom hardware can really personalize your kitchen cabinets, but it’s expensive. Custom knobs and pulls generally run between $2 and $20 each; the average kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry needs about 40 pulls, so add $80 to $800 to your budget, depending on your taste in hardware.
  • Countertops. If you’re changing the existing layout of your cabinets, you’ll need to redo your countertops, as well. Likewise, your old counters may clash with your new cabinets. You can expect to spend between $40 and $100 per square foot for new countertop installation, if you need it.

Craft an accurate budget and get ahead of extra cabinet expenses by looking into your financing options today.

Tips for measuring your kitchen

Once you choose your cabinets, a professional will usually come and take “official” measurements, but you need to measure before you go shopping so you can estimate how much cabinetry you need. You’ll want to take the following measurements—mark them on a sheet of grid paper if you can:

  • The length of each wall where you want cabinetry.
  • The height of each wall cabinetry will hang.
  • The width and placement of any windows, doors, and appliances.

You should also mark the placement of any gas, plumbing, or electrical lines on the wall.

Stock, semi-custom, or custom?

Now that you have a firm budget and you know how much cabinetry you need, you can start looking at actual cabinet styles.

Stock cabinets are usually the most economical option—by far. You’ll see stock cabinets in most home improvement and big box stores. They come in set sizes, have a limited range of colors and trim, and you can whip out your credit card and take them home same-day most of the time. If you’re handy, you can even install them yourself.

Semi-custom cabinets are a happy medium between the stock and custom options. Usually, you choose the overall cabinet style and then choose your finish. You can generally order these in different sizes, although within a range of standard sizes.

Within these two categories, you also have RTA or assembled options. Super-tight budgets go a lot further if you’re willing to assemble your cabinets yourself before they’re installed. If you have your heart set on maple, but your budget says melamine, RTA cabinets may bridge the gap.

Custom cabinets are at the high end of the scale—they’re more like furniture than storage solutions. If you go this route, be prepared to pay top dollar.

You can get closer to the look of custom cabinets even on a budget by switching out the knobs and pulls on standard cabinets with more substantial hardware.

A word about quality

If you only plan to live in your house for a couple of years, it’s OK to scrimp and choose the most basic stock cabinets.

But if you’re going to be in your home for a long time, look for quality details like solid-wood frames and doors, reinforced corners, and finished cabinet backs. Drawers should glide smoothly in and out, and hinges should feel sturdy and substantial. Look for at least a five-year warranty if you’re investing in quality cabinets.

Plan for functionality

Even with stock and semi-custom cabinetry, there are a lot of extras that really amp up functionality. Vertical step shelving for a spice cabinet, a lazy susan for hard-to-reach spaces, pull-out shelves for pots and pans, pull-out bins for trash and recyclables, vertical dividers for plates and cookie sheets, a wine rack, even an appliance garage—the sky’s the limit.

These are fairly standard options, and it’s easy to add them to your cabinet plan without adding a lot to the cost.

Beyond that, consider adding cabinets where none existed to boost functionality. Have a narrow space that won’t accommodate a full cabinet and counter? Try a tall pantry closet to add extra storage space.

Doors or drawers?

Top kitchen designers recommend installing as many base cabinet drawers as possible—they maximize your storage space and make it easier to find your dishes, utensils, and even foodstuffs.

If you prefer the look of doors, you can get similar functionality by added a tiered, slide-out shelving system.

Ready to get started?

Got your perfect kitchen cabinets in mind? If you’ve set your budget and you’re ready to get the specifics about kitchen cabinet financing, check out Hearth’s kitchen financing page. In about 60 seconds, you can see your options for a home improvement loan or credit card.