Recycling Kitchen Cabinets – How It Works

    Photo: Red Moon Sanctuary/flickrReusing, recycling, and repurposing have caught on among Americans in a big way. Recycling usable materials -- especially large, high ticket items like kitchen cabinetry -- cuts down on waste and keeps our landfills from growing. In fact, recycling kitchen cabinets is a win-win proposition that offers many benefits to both present and future owners. Find out how.

    Why Sell (or Donate) Cabinets

    Most people looking to find new homes for perfectly good (or even luxurious) used kitchen cabinets are planning to upgrade their house or condo with still more lavish versions. Certainly making a few dollars on their old cabinets can’t hurt. But beyond the appeal of cold hard cash, there is the advantage of stress reduction. A home renovation is a tense time, no matter how cushy your budget may be. Having a qualified team to dismantle everything and haul it away is a huge convenience. (If you're in this position, be sure to confirm with the kitchen recycling company how long they expect the whole process to take.) When you donate the kitchen to a charity like Green Demolitions, you'll have the added incentive of a tax write-off.

    Why Buy

    When you are dreaming of a big ticket home remodel like a kitchen renovation, choosing “new to you” recycled kitchen cabinets is potentially a fantastic way to get the look you want at a price you can afford. As well, you will increase your chances of finding cabinets that coordinate with the style and period of an older home. Because kitchens are often sold as complete sets, you may be spared the hassle of matching your cabinets with countertops, appliances, sinks, islands, wet bars, and so on. You might even hit the recycling jackpot and come up with brand new cabinets – floor models or units that were ordered and either never installed or never used.

    How It Works on the Original Owner’s Side

    Ask your architect or designer about resale or donation possibilities, or contact one of the recycled building materials middlemen. Find out from them what types of cabinets and other kitchen essentials are in demand. Everything should be spotlessly clean and in very good to excellent shape. Their age is not as important as the amount they have been used; obviously, the less the better. Items that you wish to resell will normally be taken on a consignment basis, meaning you won’t receive any payment until a buyer has been found.

    The Buyer’s Side

    Recycled kitchens are generally sold "as is," with neither a warranty nor refund or exchange privileges. Your shopping will be simpler if you are well-informed and flexible as to your cabinetry needs. You also have to know where to look. The New York City area, with its plethora of wealthy homeowners, is an excellent source of high quality cabinets and appurtenances. Try to find a New York remodeling contractor who's willing and able to work with recycled materials to inspect the cabinets before you confirm the deal. Move quickly, though, as materials are usually sold on a “first come, first served” basis.

    Don’t blow your entire remodeling budget on the cabinets themselves. It pays to set aside some funds to adjust them to fit your kitchen, as well as other considerations. For example, cabinets that were built on site may need backs added.

    Keep an open mind and use your imagination to envision how the cabinets available within your price range could be utilized to create your new kitchen. If there are some units with less-than-perfect fronts, for instance, the doors could be removed to create stylish open shelving.

    Laura Firszt writes for

    Updated April 4, 2018.

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