Building vs Buying Garage Cabinets: Which is cheaper?

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Nobody wants a cluttered garage. Installing storage cabinets can help organize your garage space. If you have a tight budget, you might wonder whether you should build or buy garage cabinets to save money.

It is cheaper to build than buy garage cabinets because you eliminate the labor cost, which can make up more than two-thirds of the price of a readymade cabinet. However, purchasing a garage cabinet is best if you need more skills, time, and tools to build your furniture.

Installing quality storage cabinets in your garage can boost your home’s resale value. You’re considering a worthy investment if you plan to put cabinets in your garage. This article will help you decide whether to build or buy garage cabinets.

Costs of Building vs. Buying Garage Cabinets Compared

You can make your own or purchase premade cabinets for your garage.

The price includes material and labor costs when you buy a readymade cabinet. When you make cabinets yourself, you save on labor costs.

The savings can be huge, considering that labor accounts for about 75% of the cabinet price if you purchase the furniture from a store.

Garage cabinet prices can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Suppose you require a garage storage cabinet system that costs $18,000 if you purchase it from a store. Assuming that labor accounts for 75% of that cost, building the cabinets yourself would only cost you $4,500.

Why You Should Make Your Garage Cabinets 

The most significant advantage of building rather than buying garage cabinets is the cost-saving because your labor is free. There’re other benefits of building vs. buying cabinets:

  1. You can customize the cabinets to your desire: Finding readymade garage cabinets that suit your unique design requirements can be difficult. While you can order custom-made units, the costs can be quite high. Making the cabinets yourself allows you to customize every detail of the furniture while controlling costs.
  2. You have control over product quality: Many build their cabinets because they can make units of better quality than what the market offers. If you can’t find premade cabinets that meet your quality requirements, it will be better to build your own.
  3. You can progress at your own pace: Most people consider making their furniture as a cost-cutting measure. If you decide to build your garage cabinets, you can work on the project gradually as your budget allows. For example, you could purchase the materials little by little over time if you can’t afford a large one-time purchase. You can also build the cabinets at your own pace when you have the time.

What Do You Need To Build Your Garage Cabinets?

Building your cabinets can give you precisely what you want besides saving you money. Here’re a few things you’d need to make your garage cabinets:

  1. Cabinet-making skills: Building cabinets requires skills that everyone needs to have. You need to measure the space to fit the furniture, design the cabinets, cut the materials, and assemble the pieces. Besides, you need to know how to operate the tools and machines you need for the job.  
  2. Making cabinets takes time: It can take several weeks to build a cabinet system for a garage. Factories that make custom cabinets typically ask customers to allow at least a week. And that’s a task that possibly involves several cabinetry professionals. It could take months to complete if you split your time between the cabinet project and a day job.
  3. Tools are needed everywhere in cabinetry: Building cabinets involves working with various tools and equipment. Some of these cost tens of thousands of dollars. However, you may hire the necessary tools and machines for the job. 

What Material Should Be Garage Cabinets?

Garage cabinets can be made of the following (we have a whole article about this here):

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Plastic 

Metal cabinets can be steel or aluminum. Wood cabinets can be made of plywood, MDF, chipboard, or other engineered wood products.

While metal cabinets are the strongest and most durable, they’re the most expensive. Wood cabinets are the most popular, while plastic cabinets are the most affordable. Wood is the most suitable material to work with for the best homemade garage cabinets.

What Are the Different Types of Garage Cabinets?

The typical garage cabinet types are freestanding, wall-mounted, rolling, and modular. You can build a garage storage system comprising these different cabinet types.

Let’s take a closer look at these popular types of garage cabinets:

  • Freestanding cabinets: As the name implies, freestanding cabinets stand alone without attaching to any other furniture. These cabinets are typically rectangular and stand about 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall.
  • Wall-mounted cabinets: These cabinets are attached to the walls. They’re ideal for small garages because they don’t take up floor space.
  • Rolling cabinets: These are often shaped like the freestanding type, except they have wheels. Because of the wheels, you can move rolling cabinets around the garage and change their position as you desire.
  • Modular cabinets: These are arranged into a storage system, often with lower and upper cabinets. The cabinets can be configured to various designs. Modular cabinets are ideal for large garages.

How Deep Should Garage Cabinets Be?

The standard garage cabinet depth is 12 inches (30 cm). Cabinets can be up to 24 inches (60 cm) deep. Base cabinets in a modular storage system are typically 24 inches (60 cm) deep. The standard depth for wall-mounted cabinets is 12 inches (30 cm).

While you may desire a particular cabinet depth, the space available in the garage will determine how deep your furniture can be. Measure the distance from the car to the walls to get an idea of how deep your garage cabinets should be. Account for the space you need to open the car doors when taking the measurement.

Why You Should Buy Rather Than Build Your Garage Cabinets

While you may save money making your garage storage cabinets, you should think twice before taking on this challenge. Here’re a few reasons you may want to avoid building your cabinets:

  1. A noisy home: The tools and machines you work with can be loud, disturbing the peace of others at home. For example, your dog could bark excessively at the noise.
  2. High electricity bills: The power tools you need for this job will drive your electricity consumption. As a result, you’d face higher utility bills during the project period.
  3. Waste disposal headache: Once your cabinets are built, you’ll need to clean up the workspace. Disposing of the waste may come at a cost to you.
  4. Accidents happen in workshops: If you aren’t skilled in carpentry or lack experience operating some power tools, workshop accidents can be severe. You could hurt yourself in an attempt to save money.

Here’re a few benefits of buying readymade garage cabinets:

  • Many design options: It can be challenging to develop an excellent cabinet design if you’re attempting the work alone. Stores like this one have a wide variety of cabinet designs for customers to choose from.
  • Professional quality products: You could make better cabinets if you’re an expert in cabinetry. If not, the quality of your work could be wanting.
  • No long waits: Buying readymade cabinets allows you to organize your garage spaces as soon as possible. However, you may need to wait for deliveries of custom-built cabinets.
  • Warranty protection: Many garage cabinet suppliers warranty their products for several years. As a result, your cabinets can be repaired or replaced for free if something goes wrong.


It’s cheaper to build than to buy garage cabinets if you have the skills and tools. Buying readymade cabinets is the best option if you want to organize your garage as soon as possible with professionally built units.