Cabinet sales down, but R&R on its way up

A Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Survey found a 35.2 percent decline in cabinet sales between May 2008 to May 2009

July 31, 2009

Top 10 Cabinet Finishes of 1957

A Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Survey found a 35.2 percent decline in cabinet sales between May 2008 to May 2009. Meanwhile, another survey — this one from business-to-customer service and market data provider ServiceMagic — showed online requests for smaller projects such as cabinet re-facing rose in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year ago. Demand for larger remodels decreased noticeably.


Maple species, including this Tahoe Square Maple door in Cognac from Timberlake, have consistently been a consumers’ top pick

The numbers match trends the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s newly minted President-Elect Mark Karas, CMKBD, observes. He expects cabinet sales for remodeling jobs to increase into 2010, particularly for smaller projects. “The remodeling market is a prime target for cabinet companies nationwide. Probably three-fourths of cabinet sales are in R&R now,” he says. “So not all the jobs are going away. They’re getting smaller and smarter.” What’s In Now?

The KCMA survey reported stock cabinet sales fell 34.3 percent, while semi-custom and custom cabinet sales each declined 34.9 percent. According to the ServiceMagic figures, those who specified what cabinet materials they were using said maple and oak cabinets are most popular.

But Harold Martin, vice president of product design and development for both Quality and Saxton Cabinets, disputes ServiceMagic’s market snapshot. Although cherry and maple are still popular, the contemporary style that’s used in many markets means some consumers want slightly offbeat kitchens and bathrooms — orders for traditional-leaning red oak have experienced a precipitous drop.

Quality Cabinets, Martin says, has seen an uptick in sales of quarter-sawn white oak and rift white oak species as well as in rustic cherry. “Rift white oak leans itself a bit more to the contemporary side. We do full overlay for the most part, but that’s changing slightly with the transitional market picking up steam,” Martin says, adding, “Traditional is going to be around forever. You’re always going to sell more traditional in the U.S. But there’s more interest in contemporary styles. That’s the market we’re developing new products for.”

Connie Edwards, CKD, CBD, is director of design for American Woodmark Corp. Orders for oak — in all types of cabinetry — have decreased dramatically for the brand, which counts Timberlake and Shenandoah Cabinetry in its lineup. “No one really has an answer for why oak fell off. Maybe it’s a cyclical thing. Today’s buyers are looking for something with a tighter grain,” she says. The company isn’t offering oak in its newer door lines. Factory-applied painted cabinets and off-whites, on the other hand, are coming back.

“People are buying based on what’s in their wallet, not necessarily what they really want,” says Paul Radoy, manager of design services for the Masco Builder Cabinet Group. Radoy reports the group’s No. 1 seller is maple, particularly in the medium-to-light tones. Cherry has fallen to No. 2, which Radoy attributes to the higher price points associated with the wood. “But we did see a spike in the white or off-white cabinets. White is trending back upward a bit at about 1 percent over last year,” he says. “It’s trendy and cool to mix styles. Casual-contemporary, 'Garage Sale Chic’ or whatever you want to call it is probably the fastest growing trend.”

Jobs Reported Preferred Material %
94 Oak 16.4%
104 Maple 18.2%
28 Paint grade 4.9%
49 Cherry 8.6%
11 Pine 1.9%
34 Other 5.9%
213 Didn’t Specify 37.2%
32 Laminate 5.6%
7 Glass 1.2%
572 Total  
Source: ServiceMagic Species Popularity Report 2009, through June.


Top 10 Cabinet Finishes of 1957

To see how far cabinet trends have come, check out this link for the Top 10 finishes in the St. Charles Cabinetry line, circa 1957: Metal Kitchen Cabinets

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