Buying Secondhand Cabinets: Yay or Nay?

Kitchen Storage Ideas by Martha Stewart Buying Secondhand Cabinets: Yay or Nay?

Kitchen Storage Ideas by Martha Stewart

Would it surprise you to learn that the most expensive part of your kitchen remodel isn't going to be your new appliances? No, the most expensive part is going to be your cabinets. It's true: Between the purchase of new cabinets, the removal of your old cabinetry, and the installation of the new cabinetry, most of your remodeling budget is going to go toward your dish and food storage.

Obviously there are ways you can reduce this cost. If you have contracting and construction experience, you can do the removal and installations yourself. You can also go with used or secondhand cabinetry instead of brand new.

Your first instinct might be to shun used cabinetry. After all, if someone got rid of it, how great could it possibly be? The truth is that, often, the cabinetry people get rid of is in perfectly good condition - they're remodeling because they want a change or because their existing cabinetry won't fit in (sometimes literally) with the new appliances or other changes they want to install.

Money isn't the only reason to go after secondhand cabinetry (though it is certainly the most understandable). There is also a convenience factor. Secondhand cabinets are already built and installation-ready. You can also, if you aren't in need of actual cabinets, break them apart and use the building materials for other projects.

Of course, not all secondhand cabinets are created equal. Some are in terrible shape or have structural damage of some sort. How do you make sure that the cabinetry you buy is good enough.

1. Inspection

When you buy new cabinetry, you can pretty much count on it being in good shape. With secondhand cabinets, you know that what you're buying has been used (and potentially abused) by someone else. It is important that you thoroughly inspect any cabinet you're thinking of buying - inside and out. Check for water damage, mildew and mold, scratches, scrapes, breaks, warps, and other flaws. Look at how the cabinets are put together. Are they loosely joined (and can you fix that)?

2. Buy from a Retailer

Shopping at local salvage shops is a good way to make sure you're getting good and solid used cabinetry. Sometimes even the big box stores will sell used cabinetry - these are typically the cabinets that have been on display somewhere in the stores.

3. Manufacturer Research

When you are checking out a set of used cabinetry, make sure you know which company is responsible for its manufacturing. If you're buying from a private seller, find out this information ahead of time. This way you can learn about the manufacturer ahead of time.

Yes - even when buying used, knowing about a manufacturer's reputation is important. Find out how long their work tends to last, how well it holds up over time, if there are any common structural issues, etc.

Secondhand cabinetry is a fantastic way to save money on your kitchen remodel or renovation. Use these tips to help make sure that you get the best possible product for the best possible price.

Erin Steiner is a freelance writer who, in addition to writing about DIY and money saving, covers topics ranging from professional profiles of executives like Timothy Broas to pop culture issues.

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