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Getting Cabinets-Home Depot or Lowe’s

From an installers view, getting kitchen cabinets from Home Depot can be frustrating because of the way they are manufactured. Lowe’s cabinets seem to have some of the same issues that accompany purchasing ready made kitchens from super home centers.

From twenty seven years of experience in manufacturing custom European cupboards, I’m going to offer my opinion concerning some of the materials and fabrication methods used in these prefabricated bathroom vanity and kitchen cabinets. Even though the kind of cabinets you find at Lowe’s might not be the sort of thing that you would treasure forever or take out an insurance policy for at Aviva.co.uk, you’re sure to want to know what you’re getting. Take a look below to find out exactly what you can expect to get when purchasing these cabinets.

From twenty seven years of experience in manufacturing custom European cupboards, I’m going to offer my opinion concerning some of the materials and fabrication methods used in these prefabricated bathroom vanity and kitchen cabinets.

What’s the quality like of the cabinets you find at Home Depot or Lowe’s?

Like all kitchen or bathroom manufactures, each brand has its own unique design, so my views do not sum up all of the options that are available from these two construction materials supply companies.

  1. Particle Board Used in Cabinets– Kitchen cupboard quality varies from brand to brand, but I have noticed that there is a lot of particle board used, which is not necessarily a bad thing unless the pressboard touches the floor. This has been a common thread that I have discovered with these pre-made cabinets available from Lowe’s and Home Depot, the sides, back and toe parts that touch the floor are flake board. These parts will be affected by cleaning floors with water and if there is ever a minor flood, you will have water damaged cabinets.
  2. Cabinet Hinges and Plates-Low quality hinges and plates are used more often than not. The industry leaders in hinge production are Grass America and Blum. I don’t think I have ever seen a Grass or a Blum hinge in any of the cabinetry that I have installed from either of these construction supply companies.
  3. Drawer Construction and Runners/Slides– Many of the drawers are fabricated from solid real wood and most of the actual drawer slides seem to be of good quality, even though they are not name brands. However, the installation of the slides is usually not very good. By this, I mean that the solid built drawer’s slides do not get secured with enough screws and oftentimes the screws are not tightened to full capacity. Thus, a good product becomes a poor one over the course of time if the installer doesn’t take sufficient time to tighten all of the loose parts.
  4. Doors-The lower priced cabinet’s doors are not of great quality, but the mid to upper level priced brands generally have quality doors with durable finishes.
  5. Exterior Cabinet Surfaces-Almost always the exposed sides on the cabinets from Home Depot and Lowe’s are vinyl. Even refrigerator side panels get shipped with a vinyl coating on them. They have the appearance of real wood or even a painted white finish when in actuality it is a vinyl coating. This is very poor quality in comparison to custom fabricated kitchen or bathroom cupboards. These areas can be covered with either plywood or door panels but these are upgrades to the pricing that got you interested in getting cabinets from Home Depot or Lowe’s in the first place.
  • Tip: Old school says that: “you get what you pay for.” The same is applicable to cabinetry. What may have the appearance of beauty on the outside and is really cheap will have a short lifespan when it comes to usability.

One of my biggest grips about the way these cabinets are built is that on the base cabinets the sides, toe kicks and backs extended all the way to the floor. This means that when they are being installed that if there is a hump in the floor in the rear of the kitchen base cabinet, the back will have to be cut. This makes for a lot of extra work for the installer. Not to mention the possibility of having water damaged cabinets. of the cheap bathroom vanity cabinets, which come in boxes, have the backs cut short to help the customers not have to deal with cutting around plumbing. This just looks cheap.

Problems with Getting Cabinets from Home Depot or Lowe’s

Here are just a few of the problems with ordering cabinets from these construction supply companies. Home Depot or Lowe’s both have these same issues with their kitchen and bathroom cabinetry departments. Before the cabinets actually make it to the customer’s home, they have passed through many hands and have traveled thousands of miles. Common sense tells us that there’s going to be missing pieces and damaged parts.

  1. Missing Parts-Very rarely have I ever installed a cabinet job supplied by either company where all of the parts actually made it to the job site. There is always something missing and oftentimes it causes a major delay in the installation process. The past three jobs I installed, two of them were missing the toe base stock rips.
  2. Damaged Cabinet Parts– Chips in panels, broken cabinet sides, door finishes rubbed off and broken hinges and drawer slides are just a few of the things you can expect when you order kitchens or bathrooms from Home Depot or Lowe’s.
  3. Wrong Parts– Incorrect molding pieces can be an occasional occurrence. Even the wrong cabinets get delivered at times.
  4. Job Delays– You can just imagine how much time gets wasted because of the mistakes that accompany kitchens and vanities purchased from Lowe’s and Home Depot. Broken parts or missing pieces of the puzzle can take up to two to three weeks to get. This causes a huge delay in scheduling. It creates a ripple affect that costs a lot of time and money.

If you plan on getting cabinets from either of these home centers, there is the possibility of having potential problems. It’s a gamble you will take to save a few dollars. Your savings from getting Home Depot cabinets may end up costing a lot of time, money and frustration. The same applies to ordering your kitchen or bathroom vanities from Lowe’s. There are just too many hands in the pot for things to go smoothly, they just won’t because they vary rarely do.

  1. Daniel
    June 16th, 2009 at 14:01 | #1

    I recently ordered a set of Kraftmaid kitchen cabinets from Home Depot. The cabinets on display in the store looked really good. When the cabinets arrived, they were scratched, had streaks, cracks in the finish and the base cabinets were put together very poorly. Kraftmaid used hot glue to “seal” the cabinets and of course, the beads of glue were already falling off. Joints had huge gaps, their triangular nail-things were sticking through the cabinets and the edges of the facings were sharp and rough.

    I complained to Home Depot. The way they handled the situation made it seem like they thought it was my fault I was complaining. How dare I not like their cabinets and workmanship!

    Don’t get misled by good-looking cabinets in the store. You might not get what you ordered. Instead of thermofoil doors, I got spray-painted doors. If I was to keep the cabinets, I’d have to have all the doors and fridge gables replaced due to flaws in the work.

    I’m thinking of returning everything and starting over with a specialty cabinet company. I’ve also lost out on labour time that the workers I hired were supposed to be installing the cabinets.

    Summary: Even the “high end” cabinets are not great. My contractor took one look at it and called the cabinets worse than entry level stuff. You won’t save money with Home Depot’s cabinets and you’ll get a lot of headaches.

  2. admin
    June 16th, 2009 at 15:35 | #2

    @Daniel Danile, thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.

    For many years friends, relatives and customers have complained about the difficulties they have had getting their cabinetry from home centers.

    Where is Specialty Cabinet Company located?

  3. August 18th, 2009 at 14:00 | #3

    I got diamond cabinets at Lowes. Very poor stain quality. Damaged doors. Replacement doors also damaged with poor stain. Stripped screws. They sent me stain to touch them up. Can I still return these?

  4. steve dais
    January 14th, 2010 at 00:09 | #4

    My 2cents if you dont mind. I have worked with the 3 cabinetry moguls around. That being custom, semi custom and builder grade and like anything else there are bad and good with everything you buy. In my experiance as a cabinet designer for a big box company the quality is there with semi custom it all depends on your installer and your designer. For example the particle board that people are talking about going to the floor can be fixed by using roofing paper, again it all depends if your instaler is smart enough to be using these types of tips. Jon you stated you got Diamond cabinets from Lowes Yes you can return these doors Masterbrand cabinets is a great company and they will not just blow you off, you also stated poor stain quality Diamond goes through a 8 point stain process and usually comes out grat but hey guess what they have a life time warrenty on that! With the door being damaged sure this is going to happen but you said they sent you replacemnet door right?

    Daniel wow man I am sorry I have personaly worked for Masco the company that ownes Kraftmaid, Merlliat, Venicia cabinets and have never heard of Kraftmaid putting out a product with so many problems at the age of only 31 I have installed 56 kitchens and have designed well over 300 and again never heard of this, but im not saying it cant and didnt happen. I just hope that it was finally resolved and if by any chance it wasnt I hope you went right over Home depots head and went straight to Kraftmaid. Bit of advice if Home depot didnt help Go to Lowes or Sears they also carry Kraftmaid and will be glad to help you and make it right!

    Admin. Every company is going to have complaints as im sure you guys are well aware and since these companies are in abundance of course they are going to get the most complaints, but hey thats how the world works. Not using that as an excuse but name 10 towns that dont have a Home Depot, Lowes, Sears at least 5 miles away from it. Yes custom builders are going to be more of a fit in the customers home but in these times are we sure they are going to be around to warrenty those nice custom cabinets we put in our homes or are we going to be stuck trying to find a handyman to come in in 3 years because the laytex paint my neighbors builder used or the builder that used all wood front and maple drawer boxes with nice dove tail joints and then white melamine for the structure (that he bought from a home depot or lowes the day before!)

    In conclusion the term you get what you paid for saying that My great grandad used to say is now replaced with Reputation and willing to do the right thing. When i sit down with a young couple buying thier first house or a middle aged couple renovating because the kids are gone or even an elderly couple tired of their 50’s home I try to make them apart of my family becasue they are not just buying a kitchen from me the are buying my design and i take that to HEART.

    Try looking at a company called American Woodmark or Shenandoah I have had nothing but the best results from them in the past couple years. They only leave the trailor once and that is when they hit your driveway!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you

  5. admin
    January 14th, 2010 at 15:44 | #5

    Steve, thanks for posting such an informative response. You have made some very valid points.

    Just curious. do you have a website?

    I would really like to give you a link from our website.

  6. steve dais
    January 15th, 2010 at 17:55 | #6

    I dont I am teaching a selling class and was looking for some information when I stumbled on your website. Sorry I didnt mean to steal yours

  7. melissa
    February 21st, 2010 at 00:18 | #7

    I am a cabinet designer for Lowe’s….I have been a designer there for almost 10 years now. I just would like to say, that it all depends on the cabinets you buy. If you buy the cheap off the shelf cabinets you are going to get a vinyl side, 1/2″ shelves, stapled particleboard drawer boxes 1/2″ thick, and laminated sides. These are of less quality than a semi-custom cabinet company would have to offer. The stock cabinetry is also limited in sizes and skus that most people need for the space they are trying to fill. It really really pays to check into the different qualities of cabinets. If you purchase Diamond, Shenandoah or Kraftmaid you will see that the build of the cabinet is much nicer…standard will be 3/4″ shelving, 3/4″ dovetail solid hardwood drawer boxes on Diamond, Kraftmaid; 5/8″ dovetail solid hardwood drawer box on Shenandoah. Diamond and Kraftmaid also have standard an upgraded drawer glide with a self closing buffering glide that allows for an easy close. This is an option with Shenandoah. I do agree with Brian Dias..IT DOES DEPEND ON YOUR DESIGNER AND INSTALLER!! It is up to the designer to make sure at the VERY LEAST..the exposed sides of your cabinets are finished with a true plywood end. This will give you a finished side..whether it be oak, maple, cherry..whatever wood type you have selected. All three cabinet companies also offer an all plywood construction option from between 15-20% additional cost. This will eliminate the press/particle board all together! Well worth the investment. I am only telling you this, because it is important to know these things when shopping for cabinets. Do your research, and make sure you know what you are getting, and please ask questions! I have alot of experience in designing kitchens, and I pay very close attention to these details! I make sure I qualify each and every client to ensure they understand what they are purchasing. The warranties on the semi-custom cabinetry are usually limited lifetime warranties. The stock cabinets off the shelf usually are only warranted for a year to two years. Now that you are well informed on the different grades of cabinets, I encourage you to purchase your cabinetry at Lowe’s. Invest your money wisely, and be sure you are getting a quality cabinet, that you won’t have to replace in 5 years. Look into the semi-custom special order cabinetry with the nicer features, as this will be worth your investment in the long run.

  8. admin
    April 14th, 2010 at 06:28 | #8

    Melissa, thanks for the excellent comments. I totally agree with you that a good sales person and kitchen or bathroom installer can make things go much smoother when purchasing cabinets from a home center.

    There’s still the element of the wholesale company where Lowe’s or Home Depot may be getting the cabinets from. Personally, I think that there are just too many hands in the pot for there to be excellent quality control throughout the entire project from start to finish. My experience from twenty seven years of being in the cabinet industry can vouch for that last statement.

  9. May 27th, 2010 at 08:15 | #9

    Melissa, maybe you can help me. Last summer 2009 we bought our Thomasville kitchen cabinets from Home Depot. The one garage door cabinet has failed – I felt the spring pop loose and the door would not close properly (it just hung down in the cabinet space when rolled up). I have since taken it apart and reattached the sping to the dowl but now I don’t know how or which direction to wind the door with the proper tension. Any info availabe you can send me? Have not found anything on the net so far.

  10. Dee Dee
    August 10th, 2010 at 12:12 | #10

    When I got my kitchen cabinets I thought I was going to use Home Depot as well. Then I looked around and found that they really aren’t the lowest price and like you guys mention the quality sometimes is less than par.
    I am from San Diego and I ended up going with a company: City Cabinet Center for my kitchen cabinets. If you are in the area you should check them out http://www.citycabinetcenter.com . I was so happy to find them. They had great quality stuff but the best is they put it together themselves so I didn’t have to worry about any of the problems, they took care of all that. They installed it as well and at much less than I expected. They really worked with me on how I could cut costs too which was great. ANDDDD the whole thing took a week – I couldn’t believe it! Plus they gave me an install guarantee but it’s been over a year with no problems so…
    ANYHOW, my point is if you are in the area they are great. If you are not in the area do some research to see if there is a mid-size company that specializes in cabinets it could really save you some money but def a lot of time and much hassle!

    Good luck & enjoy your kitchen-it’s SO nice to have a new one :)

  11. August 30th, 2010 at 20:50 | #11

    I would highly recommend finding a Cabinet Maker or local Manufacturer to buy direct. The big box companies have no control of what you are getting, only the company that is manufacturing the cabinets. Of course they will try to offer you a 10% customer satisfaction discount or a few extra parts at no cost but it is very hard to get consistant quality from a cabinet reseller. My company custom manufacturers the cabinets and then designs and sells direct to the public. This is not an advertisement my my company but rather a “common sense” approach for getting consistant quality cabinets.

  12. Bob
    January 5th, 2011 at 13:15 | #12

    I have purchased cabinets from HD, Lowes and the like in the past. I am a retired general contractor and found these places helpful for kitchen and bath remodels. Decisions are made according to the budget. I always tried to tell customers you get what you pay for. Selections at these stores range from – take them out of the box and assemble to higher end cabinetry. Now that I am retired, I enjoy making my own cabinets.

  13. Bonnie
    February 22nd, 2011 at 10:03 | #13

    It took several trips, over a two week period, for the installers from Home Depot to finish my kitchen cabinet remodel. They were about six hundred dollars less than a local small shop I had gotten a price from. I think I would have been better served by the little guy, but did not have the additional money to spend.

    It was a frustrating experience to have to wait so long to have the kitchen finished, but overall the project went pretty well.

  14. Ballor
    March 1st, 2011 at 08:17 | #14

    This is an excellent article. I really appreciate the heads-up on getting cabinets from places like Lowe’s.

    I’ve been looking at their kitchens and have been feeling a little uneasy about ordering from them. I’m going to check out a smaller cabinet company and get a few estimates.

  15. T.J.
    March 26th, 2011 at 10:14 | #15

    For the last month or so, I have been working with a cabinet designer at a local Home Depot on a dining room project that will have two sets of cabinets: an 11 1/2 foor long buffet with tall cabs on each end, and glass front wall cabs over the countertop, and a built in china “hutch” on an adjacent wall, 5 feet long, with all glass stacked from the top of the base cabs to 84″. First of all, I went to another Home Depot nearby, and a Lowes. I did not like what I heard from either of those cabinet “specialists”. They seemed more like sales specialists. The designer at the store I’m working with was a cabinet installer, and has been doing the cab design for 14 years. The first quote, for furniture grade Kraftmaid (no “engineered wood” ie particle board), with all the pull-outs and fancy leaded glass, was $18,000. When I came to, I told him that was a a budget buster. Since then, he has worked with me, and made a number of calls and suggestions. I have researched (with the help of this website!), learned how to router out 5 piece doors to install glass myself, and had just about decided to order unfinished AM Classic maple cabs, and do just that, (what the heck, Kraftmade particle board was still $10,000). I had it to about half that, when the designer called back this week. He said he had worked my project down to under $6000, in AM Woodmark, all plywood cabs. (I know, that’s his job.) My wife and I went in yesterday, made some adjustments (five special 18″ deep wall cabs for the hutch, etc.) and ultimately ordered our cabinets. Total bill, $7000.00. AM Woodmark all plywood, furniture grade ends on everything that will show, plain glass, but matching interior finish on all glass fronts. No hardware or pull-outs. (Have $500 budget for hardware.) I feel the answer is, find a “designer” who knows what he or she is doing, and whom you can work with. If they start to “sell” you, get up and walk away. I have been very comfortable that I was not ever preasured into making this decision, and I’m a pretty hard type to “sell”. I’ve walked out of car dealerships, and usually slap down a check with what I’ll pay, when I car shop.
    I will let you know how the project comes out.

  16. Rosa
    April 21st, 2011 at 17:11 | #16

    This site has given me a lot of information. I desperately need to replace my kitchen cabinets. They are particle board and some have been water damaged. Custom cabinets are not in my budget. Living in Chicago I was told to go to HOBO or Builders Surplus. I have also seen some nice kitchen designs at IKEA. Can you tell me anything about the cabinets at any of these stores.

  17. T.J.
    June 1st, 2011 at 09:35 | #17

    Follow up to original post: My HD/AM Woodmark cabinets arrived May 2, 2011. Almost all in excellent condition. I had two large 24x24x90 tall cabinets. One of them had damage to the front from shipping. Called AM Woodmark, and was told to accept shipment with damage noted. Rep said would note in my file, because I wanted to unpack all and make one discrepancy report (not piecemeal). 2 weeks later, called back. Note WAS there, and rep took report of two new doors and hinges needed for tall cabinet, and one missing set of glass hardware. All is on the way UPS with no hassle. Remember, this was a BIG order, 16 cabinets, 8 with glass, and some 32 trim and accessory pieces.
    I am very pleased with the finish appearance. Very consistant, cabinet to cabinet. Also pleased, overall with quality of construction and attention to detail. All plywood meant exactly that. There is no particle board, anywhere. One cabinet was obviously damaged by the packer at the factory, and shipped, anyway. The toe kick backer piece was broken off, apparently during packing, and tossed into the box on top of the cabinet. I was able to put it back in, but that was an obvious employee hiding a mistake. I intend to report that to AM Woodmark, along with a suggestion to put more packing in the boxes with large, bulky, heavy cabinets (The tall utilities.) I feel an extra piece of cardboard inside protecting the front would have prevented the damage I’m dealing with. (Niether held up project.)
    The delivery went very smoothly, on time, and polite and helpful. Helped carry the big cabs inside. But, one other issue I plan to make known to AM Woodmark; none of the numbers on the boxes corresponded to the numbers on my order, so I was unable to check off what was delivered, as I had intended. I could only count cabinet boxes, and hope they were the correct ones. They were, but it would have been nice to know that.
    Have installed 11 1/2 foot wall of project, and base of 2nd wall. So far, all cabs have been square and true.
    Will submits pics of finished project.

  18. admin
    June 1st, 2011 at 20:57 | #18

    Excellent report TJ. Thanks for taking the time to share what’s going on.

  19. T.J.
    June 15th, 2011 at 12:35 | #19

    Another Update:
    Replacement doors and hardware arrive 4 days after order phone call. Excellent condition and very good finish match. No one will ever know which are the replacements.
    Adim: is there a way to post pictures? I’m an experienced home handyman, but never attempted anything this extensive before. I’d like to share my progress pics with others contemplating such a project.

  20. admin
    June 20th, 2011 at 05:56 | #20

    Yes, I’ll send you an email address.

  21. Bob
    July 24th, 2011 at 10:51 | #21

    We recently bought Diamond cabinets for our second house. I re-did the kitchen with fairly low-grade (cheapest available) Diamond Cabinets for the first house and we had them for 5 years until we moved without a problem.

    When we got our second house, the one we intend to stay in for the long haul, we decided to spend quite a bit more money and upgrade such things as the particle board sides to plywood.

    We spent approx 4 times what we had on the first house, although to be fair this kitchen is about 50% bigger.

    Last time we got them through H.E.P. Sales, this time through Lowes and have had numerous problems with them. Unfortunately we had already gutted the kitchen, including tearing down a wall and completely re-wiring everything when the cabinets arrived. Had we not been living in the house while this project was going on (in my spare time) we likely would have returned the cabinets and re-ordered a different brand.

    We’ve been very disappointed and I WOULD NOT recommend Diamond to anyone after this experience. Here are just a few of the problems we’ve had:

    1. Hinges themselves have not yet been an issue, but the single screws that fasten each hinge to the cabinet face have broken off inside the cabinet face where I can’t remove them.

    2. Cabinets were not always properly fitted and glued together and required re-enforcing.

    3. Solid wood drawers arrived loose or cracked.

    4. One of the doors is pulling apart at the seams.

    5. Our slide out garbage-door was not properly assembled.

    Many of the issues I either ignored or fixed on my own due to time constraints. But I doubt these cabinets will last as long as we planned.

    Diamond and Lowes have been very good about replacing cabinets, drawers and doors, but the warrantee does not cover re-installation costs. Since I did it all myself, it just means more of my time and frequent repairs. We even had a Diamond rep drive over 2 hours to see what was going on, but all he told us was that this is very uncommon and didn’t offer us anything else

  22. Rick Anderson
    January 13th, 2015 at 14:15 | #22

    Over the last 30+ years I have built or remodeled many kitchens, baths, laundry rooms and garage work spaces. To me, the considerations are cost (what the clients budget is) and time (how quickly the client needs/wants the job completed). There is absolutely no doubt that properly constructed custom built cabinetry will ALWAYS be superior to ‘packaged’ or prebuilt cabinets. I work hard to educate the client…….YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR….So true! Having said all the previous, when needed, you can use the big box cabinets…..and like Jordy says : tighten ALL fasteners, maybe add fasteners and/or adhesive. I have even reinforced the big box cabinets and actually built a 15′ long, 7′ tall ‘entertainment center’ with 1/4 round, some plywood, cabinets, shelves, drawers, big screen TV, surround sound AND stereo………..for MUCH less than I could have built a entertainment center , quicker and ended up with an amazed, thankful and VERY appreciative client.

  23. Fred Garvin
    August 12th, 2015 at 07:09 | #23

    Get a recommendation from a friend on an architect. Have him/her(the architect, not your friend) draw plans for your kitchen. Ask the architect to recommend a general contractor. Give your approval of the plans then give to the contractor(the plans, not your approval). The contractor will give you a written proposal specifying everything in detail including price. If the contract looks right, sign it and give the gentleman/lady(the general contractor) a deposit check. Keep your dog from licking the contractor’s face when he kneels down and his hands are busy building your dream kitchen and all should be right with the universe.

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