Are Inset Cabinet Doors More Expensive? A Complete Cost Breakdown

When remodeling a kitchen, one of the most significant decisions you’ll make is choosing the type of cabinets. Inset cabinet doors have been gaining popularity for their sleek, custom look and timeless appeal. However, many homeowners wonder if the elegance of inset cabinets is worth the price tag. This article delves into the costs associated with inset cabinet doors, comparing them to overlay cabinets, and helps you understand whether this investment is right for you.

What Are Inset Cabinet Doors?

Inset cabinet doors are designed to fit flush with the cabinet frame, sitting inside the cabinet opening. This style requires precision and craftsmanship, as the doors and drawers must be perfectly aligned within the frame.

Why Inset Cabinets Are Popular

1. Timeless Appeal: Inset cabinets offer a classic look that can complement both traditional and modern kitchen designs. They exude a high-end, custom feel that can elevate the overall aesthetic of your kitchen.

2. Durability: The robust construction of inset cabinets often means they last longer and withstand wear and tear better than some other styles.

3. Customization: Inset cabinets can be tailored to fit specific design needs, allowing for a high degree of personalization.

Are Inset Cabinets More Expensive?

Yes, inset cabinets are typically more expensive than overlay cabinets. But why is this the case?

Precision and Craftsmanship

“Inset cabinets are a labor of love. The precision and craftsmanship required to create them naturally come at a premium.” – Nick Schiffer, Cabinet Maker & CEO of NS Builders (Source: NS Builders Blog).

The precise fitting of doors and drawers into the cabinet frame requires skilled labor and meticulous attention to detail. This craftsmanship increases the production cost, which is reflected in the final price.

Higher Quality Materials

Inset cabinets often use high-quality materials to ensure durability and a perfect fit. The cost of these materials adds to the overall expense.

Customization Options

“The price difference between inset and overlay cabinets can vary significantly depending on the materials, complexity of the design, and the cabinet maker’s experience.” – Jeff King, CEO of Crystal Cabinet Works (Source: Crystal Cabinet Works Blog).

Customization options, such as unique finishes, hardware, and specific dimensions, can further increase the cost.

Detailed Construction

Constructing inset cabinets involves more detailed work than overlay cabinets. This additional labor contributes to the higher price point.

Cost Breakdown: Inset vs. Overlay Cabinets

Material Costs

Materials for inset cabinets can be more expensive due to the need for high-quality woods and finishes that can withstand the precise cutting and fitting required.

Labor Costs

Labor costs are higher for inset cabinets because of the detailed craftsmanship needed. Skilled workers spend more time ensuring the perfect fit and finish.

Installation Costs

Installation can also be more expensive for inset cabinets, as they require precise alignment and fitting, often necessitating experienced installers.

Maintenance and Longevity

While the initial investment in inset cabinets might be higher, their timeless appeal and durability often make them a more cost-effective choice in the long run.” – Alison Victoria, Interior Designer & TV Personality (Source: HGTV Interview).

Common Questions About Inset Cabinet Costs

Q: How much more expensive are inset cabinets compared to overlay cabinets?

A: On average, inset cabinets can cost 15-30% more than overlay cabinets, depending on the materials, design complexity, and the cabinet maker’s experience.

Q: Are there ways to reduce the cost of inset cabinets?

A: Yes, there are ways to make inset cabinets more affordable, like choosing stock sizes and simpler designs.” – Joanna Gaines, Interior Designer & Co-Founder of Magnolia (Source: Magnolia Blog).

Q: Do inset cabinets add value to my home?

A: According to the “The Return on Investment of Inset Cabinets: A Comparative Analysis of Resale Values” by Zillow Research, homes with inset cabinets can have higher resale values, making the initial investment potentially more rewarding when selling your property.

Q: Are inset cabinets harder to maintain?

A: Inset cabinets require regular maintenance to ensure doors and drawers remain aligned. However, their sturdy construction often means they last longer with proper care.

Actionable Advice for Choosing Cabinets

Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Cabinet Doors

  1. Set Your Budget: Determine how much you’re willing to spend on your kitchen remodel. Inset cabinets are more expensive, so plan accordingly.
  2. Define Your Style: Decide on the aesthetic you want for your kitchen. Inset cabinets offer a more custom, high-end look.
  3. Evaluate Your Needs: Consider your kitchen usage and storage needs. Inset cabinets provide a seamless look but can reduce interior space slightly.
  4. Consult a Professional: Speak with a designer or contractor who can provide insights and help you make an informed decision.
  5. Review Samples: Look at samples of both inset and overlay cabinets to see which you prefer.
  6. Think Long-Term: Consider the longevity and maintenance of your chosen cabinets.

Checklist for Cabinet Selection

  • Set a budget
  • Define your style
  • Evaluate your storage needs
  • Consult with a professional
  • Review cabinet samples
  • Consider long-term maintenance

Personal Anecdotes and Insights

When we decided to remodel our kitchen, the choice between inset and overlay cabinets was daunting. We loved the look of inset cabinets but were concerned about the cost. After consulting with a local cabinet maker, we learned that while the initial investment was higher, the quality and durability of inset cabinets would likely save us money in the long run. We opted for a mix of inset upper cabinets and overlay lower cabinets, striking a balance between cost and aesthetics. The result was a kitchen that felt both luxurious and practical, and we’ve received numerous compliments on the design.


Choosing between inset and overlay cabinets ultimately depends on your budget, style preferences, and kitchen usage. Inset cabinets offer a timeless, high-end look with durability and customization, but they come at a higher cost. Overlay cabinets are more budget-friendly and provide more interior space, making them a practical choice for many homeowners.

“Inset cabinets are like a tailored suit for your kitchen. They’re custom-made to fit perfectly, and that level of detail is reflected in the price.” – Young Huh, Interior Designer (Source: Young Huh Interior Design Website).

With the right choice, your kitchen can become a space that not only looks great but also functions perfectly for your needs. Remember, investing in high-quality cabinets is an investment in your home’s future, potentially increasing its value and providing years of enjoyment.

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Nyla Rose

Say hello to Nyla Rose, a special person who helps people make their homes pretty and comfortable. Mary went to the University of Creativity to learn all about making spaces beautiful.

For more than 10 years, she’s been sharing her smart and fun ideas about home decorating with people all around the world. Mary loves to talk about cool DIY projects, how to decorate on a budget, and choosing the perfect items for your home. Her friendly tips and stories are loved by many because she makes home decorating easy and joyful!

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