Stock, Custom, and Semi-Custom Cabinets: Cabinet Terminology, Part Three

September 23, 2016

What is the difference between stock, custom, and semi-custom cabinets?

A kitchen with warm brown woods featuring Kabinart custom cabinets

The third installment of our Cabinet Terminology series explains the difference between stock, custom and semi-custom cabinets.

We hear a lot of talk about what is and isn’t a “custom” cabinet. As you can imagine, we have a pretty strong opinion on the matter. To help you understand the differences between stock, semi-custom and fully custom cabinets, here is a breakdown of the key differences.

What’s the Difference Between Stock, Semi-Custom and Custom Cabinets?

Let’s start at the beginning with stock cabinets which are just what the name implies: the cabinets a store keeps in stock. These cabinets are only available in standard dimensions and finishes, and offer little to no options for customization of individual cabinets.

Stock Cabinets

While it is not true of ALL stock cabinets, many of the cheaper stock cabinets found in big-box home centers and deep discount stores use inexpensive materials and hardware. After all, stock cabinets are about quantity for the manufacturer – creating the largest amount of units for the lowest cost.

Cheap stock cabinets are usually built with low-grade particle board. This inexpensive material is prone to water damage, provides a poor grip for screws and connectors, and shows wear relatively quickly. Hinges, drawer slides and other hardware are also typically of low quality on cheap stock cabinets.

Cabinet Depot Pro Tip: Not all stock cabinets are built the same! There are a few companies we trust that combine the simplicity of standard sizes and finishes with better materials, construction techniques and hardware. Talk to our team of cabinet specialists to see the differences between quality and cheap stock cabinets!

Of course, the major benefit of stock cabinetry is the low price. Because they are mass produced, stock cabinets come in at a much lower price than custom or semi-custom cabinets. However, we strongly encourage that you consider more than the initial cost when looking at new cabinets.

Custom Cabinets

At the other end of the spectrum, fully custom cabinets are built-to-order using the specific measurements and designs for an individual room. The options are literally unlimited when it comes to custom cabinets. Exotic wood species, hand-carved details, custom shapes to fit unusual spaces, you name it.

Of course, the down side to all of these options is the cost involved. Because each piece is constructed individually, fully custom cabinets take a lot of time and are usually crafted by an experienced cabinet maker – and their expertise does not come cheap.

From the selection of individual boards to carefully attaching every door, drawer and piece of hardware, the time and artistry involved are substantial. If your budget allows, a fully custom set of cabinetry can be a truly original work of functional art.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

For those that want the high-end look and many of the options of custom cabinetry without the high-end cost, take a look at semi-custom cabinets. These cabinets offer a wide range of sizes, finishes and door and drawer styles that can be adapted to fit a variety of layouts.

While cheap stock cabinetry at discount centers offer low prices by using low-grade materials, our semi-custom cabinets are built with many of the same techniques and materials as fully custom cabinetry. These cabinets are produced in a facility that uses a combination of state-of-the-art computerized equipment and hands-on, old-school attention to detail.

Unlike many small custom cabinet shops, these modern facilities have extensive environmental controls for applying paint, stain and protective coatings. This allows factory cabinets to offer a much more robust guarantee on their finishes along with a furniture-quality finish you can rely on for generations to come.

The combination of these features leads to an exceptionally fine product that is both beautiful and built to last. Our semi-custom lines offer a multitude of customizable elements, including door inserts, trim and even hand-turned legs and decorative details.

Visit the Cabinet Depot Showroom!

Hopefully we have helped you to get a better understanding of the differences between stock, custom, and semi-custom cabinets. If you have any questions, come talk to us! Our friendly staff will show you examples of each type, point out the differences, and help you to arrive at the right decision for your home and budget.

Read the other articles in this series: