Stock Cabinets Vs Custom Cabinets in Your Kitchen Renovation

Kitchen cabinets

Kitchen cabinets represent a major part of any kitchen renovation, both in terms of appearance and budget. Choose traditional cabinetry for a country kitchen or create a contemporary space with sleek, modern cabinets. But the choice between stock cabinets vs custom cabinets has the greatest effect on cost and the finished look. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of either option before making your decision.

What Are Stock Cabinets?

The name can be misleading, as customers often assume that stock cabinets can be picked up from the retailer immediately. Although certain components from stock cabinet lines may be found on store shelves or in “stock,” you still need to place an order beforehand and wait for your new kitchen cabinets to come in.

Stock cabinets are pre-manufactured in standard sizes, generally divisible by three. In terms of width, stock kitchen cabinetry begins at 9-inches wide and moves up in 3-inch increments to the largest size available, most often 48-inches wide. Heights tend to run either 30-inches or 33-inches, although some cabinetry manufacturers offer taller product lines to service larger, upscale kitchens.

This type of kitchen cabinetry is built to the manufacturer's standards. Often melamine or plywood is used, with veneers and standard joinery. Each modular unit fits together with another to complete the kitchen design.

What Are Custom Cabinets?

As the name denotes, this type of kitchen cabinetry is custom built to the homeowner's specifications. You choose the materials, including type of wood and finish, and state the sizes and features required. Measurements of custom cabinets are wide open, allowing you to design and specify cabinetry that fits into oddly shaped corners and runs along the wall in any length.

Custom cabinets can be made from the same materials as stock cabinets, although the lead time is significantly longer. Many consumers opt for solid wood when investing in custom cabinets, providing lifelong durability and the ability to redecorate in the future (genuine wood cabinetry can be professionally refinished without requiring replacement).

Pros and Cons of Stock Cabinets

Consider your kitchen remodeling needs when choosing cabinetry, and keep these pros and cons in mind when browsing through stock cabinetry aisles:

Pros ~

  • Affordable
  • Available almost immediately
  • Easy to find an experienced installer and homeowners can opt to DIY, if desired
  • Quality made
  • Available in a wide range of colors and finishes
  • Simple to replace, even if one modular unit needs repairs or replacement

Cons ~

  • Limited design choices in terms of size - you must follow the 3-inch increments in cabinet design
  • Limited design choices in terms of style - only the colors, finish and shapes offered in the catalog are available
  • Usually unable to refinish - due to lower quality materials, stock cabinets cannot be refinished, but must be replaced
  • Lifespan of about 10 to 15 years
  • Fillers often needed between the cabinetry due to the 3-inch increments

Pros and Cons of Custom Cabinets

When budget allows and your tastes call for a more refined, customized look, consider these pros and cons of custom kitchen cabinetry:

Pros ~

  • Can be built to fit your kitchen design perfectly
  • Often made with high quality materials, higher quality joints and upscale hardware
  • Appearance can be completely customized, from the color and texture, to glass inserts, handles and drawer pulls
  • Easy to include unusual cabinetry designs, such as pots drawers, pull-out pantries and oversized cupboards
  • Because the cabinet width can be specified, larger cabinets have fewer (or no) partitions, allowing for easier storage of large kitchen items and small appliances
  • Refinishing possible with genuine wood custom cabinets
  • Lifespan of 15 years and up

Cons ~

  • More expensive - often twice the price of stock cabinets, although some kitchen remodeling projects cost even more
  • Long lead time - do not order custom cabinets for a rush job, as average lead time is 6 weeks for a quality kitchen cabinet maker
  • More difficult to find an experienced cabinet maker with the skills your project deserves - DIY is not an option with custom kitchen cabinets

What About Semi-Custom Kitchen Cabinets?

Some retailers and kitchen renovation contractors offer semi-custom cabinets. Homeowners should note several distinctions between semi-custom and custom cabinets before investing in this hybrid product.

In terms of quality, semi-custom cabinets offer similar quality and lifespan as stock cabinets. They are most often made with plywood and veneer, and come with standard joinery and hardware.

So why call this cabinetry semi-custom? Homeowners are offered more options with semi-custom than stock, including the addition of off-sized cabinets and upgraded hardware. Limited choices are available, and the range of combinations and unusual cabinet designs is not equivalent to those available with custom cabinets.

Manufacturers build semi-custom cabinets after receiving the order, so lead time can stretch from days to weeks. You can also expect to pay more than stock cabinets, but a little less than custom. Remember that you are generally investing in a lower quality product when opting for semi-custom.

Many new kitchen cabinet firms offer semi-custom to create an upscale image without the necessary expertise, but other long established firms provide this product as a mid-way point between stock and custom.

Obtain a quote for both semi-custom and custom kitchen cabinetry before deciding. You may find only a slight price difference, while the quality of custom cabinets remains far above most stock and semi-custom options.

Choosing kitchen cabinets is one of the most important decisions in any kitchen renovation. Take a look at all of your options, including both stock cabinets and custom cabinets. Stock kitchen cabinets offer more in terms of budget and availability, while custom kitchen cabinets provide greater design flexibility and better quality. Weigh the pros and cons of each and choose the option that best suits your home and lifestyle.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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