Cabinetry 101: Cabinet Style – Stock, Semi-custom, and Custom

Cabinetry 101: Cabinet Style – Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom Cabinets

Cabinets are an important part of home decor. They set the tone for the kitchen, determine the style of the bathroom, and add beauty to utilitarian spaces. With all of the options available today, choosing the right cabinets can be overwhelming for even the most experienced homeowner. There are many factors to consider when selecting your cabinetry and we want to arm you with the knowledge to make the best decision. There are three major types of cabinetry: stock, semi-custom, and custom. Contrary to popular belief, the terms stock, semi-custom, and custom are not necessarily indicative of quality. These terms designate the type of production methods used to create the cabinets. Stock cabinets are mass-produced; semi-custom cabinets are produced when ordered and can be altered; and custom cabinets are built to individual specifications. While there are poor and excellent quality cabinets across all types, there are pros and cons associated with each cabinet style.

STOCK CABINETS

Price: $-$$
Quality: Poor-excellent
About: These cabinets are pre-assembled and mass-produced. They wait in a warehouse until ordered. They are available in framed and full access (also known as frameless) construction and in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, wood species, and finishes. They come in standard widths of 9” to 48” with 3” increments and standard depths of 12” for wall cabinets and 24” for base, oven, and utility cabinets.

Pros

  • Most popular type sold
  • Readily available—generally within ten days of being ordered
  • Can be ordered through dealers using the manufacturers catalog

Cons

  • What you see is what you get
  • Few options available
  • May not fit the kitchen space exactly. Filler strips are used to close any gaps between a cabinet and an appliance or wall

SEMI-CUSTOM CABINETS

Price: $$-$$$
Quality: Poor-excellent
About: Semi-custom cabinets are modifiable. Like stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets are available in framed and full access construction, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, wood species, and finishes. Basic stock sizes still apply, but certain dimensions can be changed. Widths generally are 9” to 48″ with 1” increments, but this varies by manufacturer. Depths can be reduced or increased within manufacturer guidelines.

Pros

  • Second most popular type
  • Greater flexibility in the design process
  • Wider range of styles, sizes, construction, materials, and colors than stock cabinets

Cons

  • Construction of semi-custom cabinets doesn’t begin until the order is final, so there may be lengthy wait times
  • Delivery time may take a month or longer
  • Changes to orders can be expensive and may increase delivery time
  • May not fit the space exactly. Filler strips and extended stiles are used to close any gaps between a cabinet and an appliance or wall

CUSTOM CABINETS

Price range: $$$
Quality range: Poor-excellent
About: Custom cabinets are built to individual specifications. There is an unlimited variety of sizes, shapes, styles, wood species, and finishes. You can have the cabinets produced by a carpenter, or have them manufactured. There is also no limit on the width or depths.

Pros

  • No limit to design, size, style, materials, colors, finishes, or features
  • Constructed to precise design measurements
  • Great for kitchens with unique layouts or special requirements

Cons

  • Generally the most expensive option
  • Delivery time may exceed 12 weeks
  • Wide range of pricing and construction standards

Check back next month for Cabinetry 102. We’ll discuss door types and the difference between framed and full access cabinets. Have any other tips? Sound off below or let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages.