Second Hand Kitchens: How to Buy a Used Kitchen

second hand kitchens
(Image credit: Used Kitchen Exchange)

Buying a second hand kitchen makes sense for many reasons and yet it is surprising that this is still a route many people still don't consider taking.

From a money-saving perspective, second hand kitchens really do add up, allowing buyers to afford kitchens from top designers that their budgets may not otherwise have stretched to. In many cases, a used kitchen will come in at 50%-70% lower than the RRP. 

A used kitchen is also an eco-friendly option, reusing items that, in many cases, have hardly been used. 

In this guide to buying a second hand kitchen we explain how to buy one, point out potential disadvantages and what to look out for when choosing one as well as covering the small, easy steps you can take to refresh your existing kitchen. 

(MORE: Kitchen Design)

second hand kitchens

It is hard to believe that this is a second hand kitchen. This walnut kitchen, complete with Miele appliances, from Used Kitchen Exchange was dismantled and reinstalled in this new space. Five years ago it cost £60,000 but its new owner bought it for just £9,999.  (Image credit: Used Kitchen Exchange)

Where to Buy a Second Hand Kitchen

As people have gradually cottoned on to the many benefits of buying used kitchens so too have the number of second hand kitchen suppliers. There are several prominent used kitchen specialists out there, including Used Kitchen Hub, Used Kitchen Exchange and The Used Kitchen Company

Specialists such as these both sell and buy used kitchens. Some have showrooms where you can view the kitchens up close, while others will arrange for you to view a particular kitchen you might be interested in — either at their premises or, if it is still in situ, at the owner's home.  

Looeeze Grossman, founder and CEO of The Used Kitchen Company says: “In today’s economic climate when the opportunity of money saving options is key to any home renovator, the concept of kitchen and furniture recycling has undeniably shifted towards the mainstream and become far more the norm. What individuals must grasp is that ‘second-hand’ no longer signifies outdated or furniture nearing the end of its lifespan; instead, it represents an excellent and budget-friendly opportunity to acquire designer pieces at affordable prices”.

Other options include online auction sites such as eBay or keeping an eye out for local sellers advertising on social media. 

If you like the idea of an ex-display kitchen it is well worth paying a visit to a selection of kitchen showrooms and leaving your details with them — they will often be happy to contact buyers when they come to changing their shop displays. 

Headshot of Looeeze Grossman the CEO of The Used Kitchen Company
Looeeze Grossman

Looeeze is an expert in all things related to second hand and used kitchens. In 2005 she started The Used Kitchen Company, responsible for introducing the concept of recycling kitchens from showrooms and private homes, saving 1000s of tonnes of waste from landfill, promoting sustainability and introducing an ethical choice to the kitchen industry.

second hand kitchens

This ex-display PWS 1909 Inframe Shaker & Slab Blue Kitchen from Used Kitchen Hub came complete with worktops and all appliances except the range cooker and under-counter fridge. It was sold for just £4,500.  (Image credit: Used Kitchen Hub)

What's The Difference Between a Used Kitchen and an Ex-Display Kitchen?

An ex-display kitchen is a kitchen that has come straight out of a kitchen showroom and won't have been used — as a result they tend to be a little more expensive than second hand kitchens, although there are still significant savings to be made. There may be some small signs of wear and tear depending on how long it has been out on the shop floor. 

Many ex-display kitchens will come from current ranges, meaning you can easily add to them should you need to with new, matching items.

You can either visit kitchen showrooms yourself and ask about buying one of their kitchens ex-display or visit the a second hand kitchen website, some of which are listed above. They usually stock both second hand and ex-display kitchens.

second hand kitchen

Although buying an ex-display kitchen can work out a little more expensive than buying second hand, it is still a great way to make savings on a brand new kitchen. This is an ex-display Dalesmade bespoke hand painted kitchen sold by The Used Kitchen Company (Image credit: The Used Kitchen Company)

How to Buy a Second Hand Kitchen

Before you begin your hunt for a second hand kitchen, have a layout of your kitchen space drawn up so that you are clear on the measurements of the room, any height restrictions, the location of windows and doors and so on and can select a kitchen to fit. 

Most good suppliers list all the details you need on their websites, including the various sizes of each of the individual units as well as the overall sizes of the fitted kitchens.

They should also include a full list of exactly what is included in terms of appliances and worktops, the condition of the kitchen, a selection of photographs and the earliest date it can be dismantled, ready for collection or delivery. 

Some suppliers offer a delivery service for a charge, while others will require you to collect the kitchen yourself. Most will not charge to dismantle the kitchen but do check. 

It might also be worth enquiring whether or not they offer finance options as many do. 

It is often possible for you to register with suppliers of used and ex-display kitchens, setting out your requirements so that they can contact you as soon as something suitable arrives with them if they don't have anything in stock at present.

Finally, ask about preloved kitchens too — some companies give this term to less-than-perfect second hand kitchens that require some TLC to get them looking good again — such as new doors or worktops.

second hand kitchens

Thanks to the emergence of many companies specialising in second hand kitchens, such as Used Kitchen Exchange who supplied this preloved Mark Wilkinson kitchen,  it is now simple to buy a used kitchen.  (Image credit: Used Kitchen Exchange)

What is Included in a Second Hand Kitchen?

It is absolutely vital to check what is included in the price of your second hand kitchen. A good supplier should offer a complete list of what is and isn't included on their website. 

Some kitchens will included a whole host of appliances in addition to the units themselves, including sinks and taps, ovens, range cookers, hobs, fridges and freezers, extraction hoods, dishwashers and even smaller items such as built-in coffee machines, microwaves and washing machines. 

It is also important to check whether the following items are included so that you know what you are paying for and whether this is the right kitchen for you:

  • Plinths
  • Kickboards
  • End panels
  • Worktops
  • Delivery
  • Dismantling
  • Installation

second hand kitchen

The owners of this preloved kitchen from Used Kitchen Exchange paid just £2,250 before updating it with new dusky pink unit doors.  (Image credit: Used Kitchen Exchange)

Who Fits a Second Hand Kitchen?

It is rare for an installation service to be offered when buying a second hand kitchen although some suppliers might be able to recommend a kitchen fitter in your area. Otherwise, you will need to either take a DIY approach or find a joiner or kitchen installer yourself.

Used Kitchen Delivery Options

Delivery charges for second hand kitchens are not usually included in the price. Some companies offer a delivery service, while others will happily point you in the direction of a delivery driver they have used before and who will have the right equipment needed to safely deliver a complete kitchen.

If you are planning on arranging to collect the kitchen yourself do bear in mind that a used kitchen will be heavy if it includes worktops, appliances and so on. You need a delivery services with appropriate lifting equipment, the correct insurance and vans capable of transporting hefty items.

Dismantling a Second Hand Kitchen

Unlike buying a brand new kitchen, a used kitchen or ex-display kitchen will already be installed, either in a home or a showroom. What this means is that it will need to be dismantled in order to transport it to its new home.

Some used kitchen suppliers have a team of professionals they regularly use to dismantle, deliver and install kitchen bought through them. These are often independent firms. The cost of this service will vary depending on the scale of the kitchen, the proximity of the delivery address and the firm used. 

In other cases, the dismantling of the kitchen will be included in the price of the kitchen and arranged by the supplier. 

"Buyers on The Used Kitchen Company platform can also earn money from selling their used kitchen instead of paying for dismantle, skips and sending to landfill," says Looeeze Grossman. "By selling your unwanted kitchen, you could earn money towards your own renovation project."

If you choose to buy from a private seller you might be asked to dismantle the kitchen yourself and will need to arrange collection too in the majority of cases. 

Used Kitchen Checklist

There are, of course, risks involved in buying any second hand item. These risks can be minimised by carrying out the following checks before you buy:

  • View the kitchen you are interested in before parting with any money or putting down a deposit
  • Make sure you have measured your kitchen space properly and know the kitchen will fit (remember that worktops can always be trimmed down or units rearranged to suit the space — you might need to get creative)
  • Check who will be dismantling the kitchen
  • Ask about delivery options
  • Check the kitchen over thoroughly by inspecting the backs and bases of units as well as just the fronts. Look at hinges and drawer runners and bases, check worktops for scratches or burn marks 
  • When it comes to appliances, ask whether there are instructions or any guarantees included and also whether the appliances will be compatible with your services. It is wise to have appliances checked and installed by a suitably qualified electrician and/or plumber before use. 
  • Check what fixings are included (hinges, brackets etc.)

second hand kitchen

This used bespoke hand painted kitchen with worktops and Gaggenau appliances was from The Used Kitchen Company. (Image credit: The Used Kitchen Company)

Quick Kitchen Updates

Don't forget that your dream kitchen might be closer than you think — how about giving your existing kitchen a new lease of life? This is the cheapest route to a second hand kitchen, after all...

Consider these quick and easy kitchen makeover ideas:

  • Update kitchen units with a new painted finish — opt for eggshell paint that can easily be wiped down and ensure you have sanded and primed units where necessary
  • Change dated unit knobs and handles for new designs
  • Re-use existing unit carcasses that are still in good condition by removing the old doors and drawer fronts and buying new ones.
  • Replace wall units with open shelving for a quick refresh
  • Consider replacing some of your fitted units with freestanding items — upcycled dressers and sideboards make great kitchen units and worksurfaces
  • Re-tile the walls and floor
  • Replace an old splashback with an eye-catching design
  • Update the lighting — stylish pendants or sleek downlighters will do far more for a space than an unflattering, fly-filled fluorescent striplight
  • Change the kitchen tap and sink
Natasha Brinsmead

Natasha is Homebuilding & Renovating’s Associate Content Editor and has been a member of the team for over two decades. An experienced journalist and renovation expert, she has written for a number of homes titles. Over the years Natasha has renovated and carried out a side extension to a Victorian terrace. She is currently living in the rural Edwardian cottage she renovated and extended on a largely DIY basis, living on site for the duration of the project. She is now looking for her next project — something which is proving far harder than she thought it would be.