Understanding Cabinetry Options for Your Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen cabinets

Your kitchen renovation should create a certain atmosphere, with major elements like countertops and cabinetry playing an important role. The options for kitchen cabinets span a wide range of styles and budgets, including different materials, designs and appearances. Find out which style suits your personal tastes and will work to achieve the look and feel of your ideal kitchen.

Three Categories of Cabinetry

Kitchen renovation contractors offer three categories for cabinetry:

  • Stock cabinets - mass produced to standard sizes and styles, this style of cabinetry is the least expensive, but also tends to wear out sooner and presents design limitations. Popular retailers for stock kitchen cabinets include DIY and building materials stores.
  • Semi-Custom cabinets - similar in styling to stock cabinets, semi-custom kitchen cabinetry allows for a certain level of customization. Add special features, custom stain colors and other features with this option that often requires a longer lead time. Popular retailers for semi-custom cabinetry include Ikea
  • Custom cabinets - measured, constructed and installed by skilled craftsmen, custom cabinetry provides the most flexibility in design and comes with the highest price tag.

Pros and Cons of Stock Cabinetry

A favorite for builders and those looking to spruce up a rental unit or starter home, stock cabinets have come a long way over the years. No longer the poorly made laminates of yesterday, modern stock cabinets come in beautiful styles and colors. With a little clever handiwork, these standardized cabinets can fit into almost any kitchen renovation.

Remember that stock cabinetry comes in certain widths, ranging from 9 inches to 60 inches and available in 3-inch increments. Cabinet heights also range from 12 to 18 inches for over-the-appliance cabinet banks and 30 to 36 inches for upper and lower banks. You need to measure your space to find out whether or not these sizes will work, and make any necessary adjustments before installation.

Many homeowners choose stock cabinets for the affordable price and DIY installation process. With some patience and a few standard tools, this style of cabinets can be mounted in a weekend, without pushing your kitchen renovation beyond the budget.

Others look to another category of cabinets due to the design limitations. You must choose a style off the shelf, and those with a certain stain or profile in mind may prefer to pay more.

Stock cabinets are not made-to-order, meaning you may need to renovate the walls, flooring and/or ceiling to accommodate the cabinet banks. Be sure to uncover all of the installation details before deciding on this style. Kitchens that require significant renovation may be better off with custom cabinets.

Pros and Cons of Semi-Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets offer a nice balance between the affordability of stock and the flexibility of custom cabinetry. For a decent price, homeowners can choose the style and design that suits, including several unique features and options. This style does offer some limitations in terms of material and stain color, depending on the retailer and manufacturer.

Semi-custom cabinetry generally comes in the same sizes as stock products. You may add features like a Lazy Susan, pull-out shelving and pantries, deeper drawers and drawer/cabinet combinations unavailable in stock cabinets. Browse a greater selection of stains and cabinet door profiles, and expect the cost to be reflective of the cabinet material and design.

Consumers opt for semi-custom cabinets for a more personalized kitchen renovation. With some trim or molding and unique hardware, semi-custom cabinetry will look very similar to a custom-made kitchen, without the expensive price tag. Quality is very good, depending on the manufacturer, and durability tends to outlast the cheaper and mid-range stock products.

Sizing may be a problem for semi-custom cabinets, especially when the standard widths or heights will not work. Measure well and have a kitchen contractor come over to verify your measurements and discuss design options. Some retailers, like Home Depot, offer an online design tool to help you make decisions before placing the order, allowing for a more customized kitchen remodel.

Pros and Cons of Custom Cabinets

The choice of the discerning homeowner, custom cabinets offer the most selection. Create a space that's uniquely yours, with color options, wood species and cabinet designs completely built for your home. Unlike stock cabinets, which come right off the shelf, or semi-custom styles with a six to eight-week lead time, custom cabinets often require 12 to 16 weeks for construction.

Order custom cabinets in any width, height or depth. Consider customized solutions for unique spaces, awkward corners and narrow gaps. Flip through kitchen design magazines and websites to find ideas for custom cabinets, and have your carpenter draw up the specs for your kitchen remodel. The sky truly is the limit with this option, although the price tag is often the biggest obstacle.

You'll need to hire a kitchen designer or find a company with both a designer and craftsman on staff. Both skills are required for a custom kitchen renovation, and this additional labor drives the cost up even higher.

Exotic wood species require a longer lead time, so be sure to schedule your kitchen renovation with adequate time for the delivery of your cabinets. Find out whether your cabinets will be pre-finished or prepped and stained on site. This could result in longer scheduling delays and requires special handling for air quality and dust.

Choosing the best kitchen cabinets for the job can make all the difference in your kitchen renovation. Consider the price and relative ease of stock cabinets, as well as the flexibility of semi-custom cabinetry. For those challenging kitchens or for discerning homeowners, custom cabinets may be the ideal option. All three categories come with pros and cons, and it requires careful thought to decide which style is right for your home.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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