Sweeten Cabinet Guide: IKEA, Home Depot, Lowe’s & Cabinets To Go

by Lee Wallender

IKEA is a go-to brand for kitchen cabinets—but what about retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Cabinets To Go?

“After” photos by Pixy Interiors for Sweeten

(Above) A Sweeten loft renovation with Ikea kitchen cabinets

Many homeowners who want modern, well-built kitchen cabinets eventually end up at IKEA. For starters, IKEA’s cabinets come at a reasonable price. Plus, the cabinets are well-designed, last for a long time, and have generous warranties.

However, IKEA is not the only place to buy cabinets. Here, Sweeten outlines how Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Cabinets To Go offer services and cabinets similar to IKEA’s—sometimes with competing prices.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.

IKEA vs. Home Depot and Lowe’s stores

Home Depot and Lowe’s are large, general-category home improvement stores offering a wide range of home goods. Though they are different companies, they are similar in many ways, especially for kitchen cabinets.

Home Depot and Lowe’s are well-represented in the U.S., each with about 2,000 stores and locations in every state. The number of stores is beneficial: most shoppers can reach a Home Depot or a Lowe’s within an hour or less. By contrast, IKEA has around 50 U.S. stores, which are clustered in large metro areas— and some areas have no IKEA store at all! Unless you are purely shopping for online kitchen cabinets (known as RTA or ready-to-assemble), it is important to visit a store to view cabinet samples in person.

Most Home Depot and Lowe’s stores have a kitchen design center or a desk that is open during daytime hours. This expert can help a shopper plan for and purchase kitchen cabinets. One drawback: because the desks are typically located in the center of the store, it can be loud and hard to focus. It’s much the same way at an IKEA store. For all of these stores, it’s best to visit during the evenings and weekdays for more personal attention.

What stores have in-stock cabinet options?

IKEA stores are huge. One reason they are so big is that they have attached warehouses. These warehouses carry nearly all of the kitchen cabinets in-stock. In fact, when you buy IKEA cabinets, you can take them home immediately, as long as you have a means of transport (IKEA also has a delivery service).

Because IKEA stores are so large, more space can be devoted to the kitchen section. This means that you will find a large number of full-scale kitchen displays at IKEA. You can test-drive the cabinets by opening doors and drawers. Home Depot and Lowe’s stores may have as many as four or five full-scale kitchen displays, but often less.

If you need cabinets now, Home Depot and Lowe’s both have a number of in-stock cabinets on the shelves. For Home Depot, this means its house brand, Hampton Bay. For Lowe’s, it’s the Project Source and Diamond NOW brands. The selection of in-stock cabinets at both stores is far less than those found in IKEA’s large warehouses.

Because IKEA aims to keep kitchen cabinets in-stock, it cannot carry a large selection. IKEA has 24 different kitchen cabinet styles. These 24 cabinet styles revolve around a single core cabinet system: SEKTION. Any one of those 24 cabinet styles can be applied to the SEKTION component system. Most cabinet styles lean towards solid colors such as white, gray, green, beige, or black. IKEA also has wood-effect melamine veneer cabinets and a few natural wood veneer cabinets.

Home Depot and Lowe’s offer a far wider selection of cabinet styles than IKEA. The types of styles include those found at IKEA, plus many more. Home Depot and Lowe’s, too, have full-wood ½ inch plywood cabinets available for special order. They also carry fiberboard box cabinets that are similar to IKEA’s.

Delivery time at Home Depot and Lowe’s for its stock cabinets is around 7 to 10 days. Estimated lead times for semi-custom cabinets is 14 to 30 days. IKEA’s delivery times are shorter: 4 to 13 days.

IKEA vs. Cabinets To Go

Cabinets To Go is a home design center with 75 locations throughout the U.S.; mostly around the East Coast and in the South.

Shopping for cabinets at Cabinets To Go is completely different from shopping at IKEA, Home Depot, or Lowe’s. A Cabinets To Go store is services-oriented and carries no stock. The purpose of Cabinets To Go stores is to bring homeowners together with design experts. In contrast, IKEA, Home Depot, and Lowe’s are goods-oriented stores that also offer a kitchen services component.

Cabinets To Go is focused on kitchen and bathroom cabinets, plus supporting items such as counters, sinks, and flooring. While IKEA also is home-centric, it includes many other types of house goods. The focus at Home Depot and Lowe’s is even broader, carrying everything from cabinets to lumber, housewares, carpet, and paint.

If you want a personal shopping experience

Compared to IKEA’s large stores, Cabinets To Go stores are much smaller. There is some walk-in traffic at Cabinets To Go, but most shoppers visit during scheduled appointments. Because of this, the stores can feel more personal and relaxed.

Despite their size, Cabinets To Go stores usually have a fair number of mock full or partial kitchens. Appointments with a kitchen expert may include looking at those mock-ups. You’ll use most of the appointment time to go through sample doors and drawer fronts. During your visit, the expert will also work up a 3D plan.

Styles of cabinets and box construction

Cabinets To Go’s 18 custom stock cabinets styles mostly differ from IKEA’s slab or bevel-front cabinets. Cabinets To Go does have a number of modern style cabinets. But most styles are Shaker-style or raised-panel, for a more classic look. For even more choices, Cabinets To Go’s custom cabinet line provides over 160 door styles and more than 60 paints and stains.

Cabinets To Go’s box construction, too, is different. IKEA’s cabinet boxes are fiberboard overlaid in melamine foil. Cabinet to Go’s box frames are solid birch with a ¾-inch birch center, with sides covered in wood veneer.

Cabinets To Go’s cabinets are shipped to your local store for you to pick up for free. Or the cabinets may be shipped directly to your home at extra cost. For any cabinet brand, delivery leads are two to three weeks, an estimate that varies according to cabinet selection and the store.

Ready to pick your kitchen cabinets?

IKEA, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Cabinets To Go are popular, price-smart go-to’s for kitchen renovators. We hope this guide comparing IKEA, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Cabinets To Go cabinets is useful on your renovation journey!  With planning, your kitchen cabinets can fit your style, and stay within your budget. (Plus, in these affordable price categories, your budget may even go further!)

Post a Renovation Project

Thinking of gutting your kitchen? Use Sweeten’s tips to prep for the most common challenges of a gut renovation.

Kitchen renovators, take note: Sweeten’s step-by-step guide outlines how long it takes to renovate a kitchen, from pre-construction to punch list.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten.

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