22/06/2021  •  , ,

What Makes Kitchen Renovations So Expensive?

Homeowners looking to revamp their kitchen want to know how much a kitchen renovation costs. More than that, they want to know precisely what parts of their new kitchen will cost the most.


That’s the question this article exists to answer. If you’re wondering, “What makes kitchen renos so expensive?”, this read is not one to miss.


With the professional input of Design Consultant Alanna Wharton, we’re zeroing in on the three most costly aspects of a kitchen: custom cabinetry, layout changes, and countertops.


Let’s get started!




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#1: Custom Cabinets


The truth is, it’s not a tight race: the lion’s share of your reno budget will go towards cabinets.


That’s the way it should be, too.


If you’re paying more money for countertops or floors, something’s probably amiss.


Cabinetry is what makes your kitchen functional and organized. It’s the pivotal component of the room. Not to mention, a brand-new custom cabinetry system will last you a lifetime with proper care.

A classy, custom kitchen with Ebony-stained cabinets.

On average, you can expect custom cabinets to make up about 30-50% of a typical kitchen renovation budget.


Cabinet Cost Contributors


The cost of cabinetry is more than meets the eye. A whole host of factors impact your cabinet costs, such as:


  • Quality of cabinet construction
  • Cabinet material
  • Cabinet door style and finish
  • Level of modifications


The great thing about cabinetry’s complexity is that you can tweak any number of these factors to make the final product fit within your budget.


Don’t care about dovetail joinery? Don’t pay for the upgrade. Can’t tell the difference between different wood species? Opt for a competitively priced oak door instead of a walnut door.


The sheer number of design selections within a cabinetry system is a blessing in disguise. It’s precisely because cabinetry is so complex that you have so much freedom to customize it to fit your budget.

A custom kitchen island.

Expensive Cabinet Customizations


Some customizations in the cabinetry world will inevitably have a higher price tag than others.


Cabinet Drawers vs. Doors


Drawer bank cabinets will always be a more expensive product than door cabinets. Why? Drawers have an underlying mechanism (ie. the drawer box and glides) that cabinets don’t.


It’s not only the interior materials that account for the cost difference. Most drawer bank options include more than 1-2 fronts whereas door front cabinets are likely going to be either single or double door. That means you’re not only paying for the additional drawer system hardware, you’re likely paying for a higher number of fronts on cabinets of the same size.


For these reasons, you can expect drawers to cost you more than door cabinets.

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Ceiling-Height Cabinetry


Extending upper cabinets to the ceiling is a modification that requires more material, extra labour, and, not surprisingly, additional cost.


Design Consultant Alanna Wharton says,

These days, more houses are designed with 9 or 10 ft. ceilings. With our tallest standard catalogue wall cabinet being 41”H, in order to get your cabinetry to the ceiling (and avoid having to include tall lengths of bulkhead trim) you’ll likely want to stack the wall cabinets.

Ceiling-height custom cabinets.

Cabinet Accessories


Homeowners often underestimate the cost of cabinet accessories. It’s not unusual for a premium accessory like a Le Mans cabinet or a pull-out spice rack to cost $1000 or more.


Add five of these accessories to your kitchen, and you’re looking at least an extra 5K on your budget.


Of course, accessories can increase convenience exponentially, but make sure to budget for that convenience accordingly. You can learn more about some of Deslaurier’s best-selling cabinet accessories in our Learning Centre.


#2: Kitchen Layout Modifications


Kitchen layout changes are the second-most expensive item on our list for three primary reasons.


Renovation Contractor Costs


Good contractors aren’t cheap. When you’re investing thousands of dollars into high-quality cabinets, countertops, and floors, your installation crew is probably not the place to pinch pennies.


Paying the money for a skilled contractor to ensure a proper and secure installation of your new kitchen will ensure a smooth reno process and may even save you from dealing with repairs down the line. But again, make sure you budget accordingly.


Increasing Kitchen Size


It might seem obvious, but if you knock down a dividing wall to expand your kitchen, you’re adding extra dollars to your renovation.


After all, the more space there is, the more cabinets and floors you’ll need to install!


Plus, once you start playing around with the bones of your kitchen, it’s not uncommon to uncover structural issues that need immediate fixing.


You’ve probably seen it happen on home reno TV shows—a wall comes down, and the contractor discovers a DIY electrical wiring job that’s not up to code. Non-negotiable repairs such as these can wreak havoc on a budget.

A Deslaurier kitchen design.

Replacing Kitchen Floors


If you’re altering the configuration of your kitchen in any significant way, you might need to overhaul the flooring to align properly with the new layout.


For example, in older houses, the cabinetry might have been there for ten years or more. When you rip them out, don’t be surprised if you discover the flooring underneath doesn’t match the rest of your kitchen’s floors.


Thus, major demo work or layout changes are often tied to a floor replacement.


#3: Kitchen Countertops

A stunning stone countertop with bold veining.

Countertops are typically the third-most costly element of an average kitchen renovation.
A few particularly expensive aspects of kitchen countertop purchases to keep your eye on are:



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Authentic Stone Countertops


Solid surface countertops have very wide price ranges. You can find a quartz countertop for $100 per sq. ft. and you can find a quartz countertop for $180 per sq. ft. just as easily.


Countertop prices depend on:


  • The rarity of the stone
  • The quarry location/shipping costs
  • Supply and demand


Design Consultant Alanna Wharton says that if homeowners are looking to curb quartz costs, she advises looking for flat colours. Plain and simple quartz designs are easier for manufacturers to produce, and so the prices are usually not as high.

As a general rule of thumb, more elaborative patterns are more expensive. A marble look-alike is probably going to have a higher price tag than a flat white or flat grey surface.


Honed or Leathered Countertop Finishes


Polished finishes are traditional countertop finishes. They’re smooth and shiny—probably what you envision when you hear the word granite or marble. Honed and leathered finishes, on the other hand, are quickly rising in popularity. A honed finish creates a smooth but matte surface. A leathered finish creates a textured and matte finish.


Honed and leathered finishes tend to cost more than their polished counterparts because it takes an additional step to create the effect.


Waterfall Countertops


Waterfall countertops (where the countertop surface vertically drops on either end of an island) are gorgeous statement pieces in a kitchen, but the extra material and labour needed to create one comes at a cost.




For starters, you’ll need about 1/2 more of a countertop slab to cover the two ends of your kitchen island, depending on the depth of your island, of course. Plus, fabrication costs go up because the mitred edges have to be perfectly cut by a computer for a seamless fit.

A two-toned waterfall end countertop

Evaluating Kitchen Reno Costs

Determining Money Well Spent


The aspects of a kitchen renovation that cost the most are often the things that need to last the longest. Minor decorative elements, like wall paint and light fixtures that people change every few years, are never going to have the biggest price tag attached.


But the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story.


Think about the biggest portions of your kitchen reno as long-term investments. A structurally sound, visually appealing, and easy-to-use cabinetry system is worth its weight in gold when you consider the everyday impact it has on your lifestyle. Similarly, expanding your kitchen’s square footage might mean you need to fork out more cash for new floors—but the extra space you can use will be well worth it day in and day out.


Not to mention, these investments boost your home’s value. You can learn more about the return on investment of different home renovations in our article, “Should I Renovate my Home?".


Discover Deslaurier


Want to learn more about the costs of a custom kitchen reno?


Deslaurier Custom Cabinets is your go-to source for custom cabinets in Jupiter, FL. Book a free consultation with one of our award-winning designers to get started on your dream kitchen project. 


Interested in becoming an authorized Deslaurier dealer in Florida? Visit our Become a Dealer page to connect with us!


The Deslaurier Custom Cabinets logo.


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