What Does “Custom” Mean When it Comes to Cabinets? - Cabinet Depot

What Does “Custom” Mean When it Comes to Cabinets?

April 26, 2022

What Does “Custom” Mean When it Comes to Cabinets?

If you’re considering a makeover or remodel of your kitchen or bathroom, you’re probably thinking about new cabinets. Everyone wants “custom” cabinets, but what exactly are you getting when someone is selling “custom”?

custom cabinets

This article will break down the differences between custom, semi-custom, and stock cabinets. It will also help you decide which option is suitable for you and your kitchen design.

Let’s dive in.

What are Stock Cabinets?

Stock cabinets are what you’ll find at big box stores. These cabinets are ready-made, manufactured products that cannot be customized. Stock cabinets are available in 2 varieties: assembled and non-assembled. Assembled cabinets are finished on the shelf and ready to be picked up. Non-assembled, also known as RTA (ready-to-assemble) or KD (knock-down), are prefinished and require assembly before installation. Most RTA/KD cabinets are manufactured outside of the USA.

Stock cabinetry is offered in set sizes. If you want to buy stock cabinets, you’ll need to choose the right size cabinets to fit your space. Generally, stock cabinets have greater size limitations than semi custom or custom cabinets due to shipping and storage/inventory constraints. As well as limited sku’s which makes design difficult.

Stock cabinets are a basic, entry-level product, often called “builder grade.” While it’s possible to get nice-looking stock cabinets, the materials and finishes will usually not be as high-quality as those in semi-custom & custom cabinets. Instead, you’ll find materials like melamine (a type of plastic), particle board, and basic hardware. 

One of the best ways to determine the quality of your cabinets is to ask about the warranty. Many of the lower-quality cabinets will offer a one-year warranty. On the other hand, Cabinet Depot provides several options. We offer a minimum 10-year warranty, all the way to a limited lifetime warranty. In our experience, a good cabinet should last at least 20 to 30 years (at a minimum).


Stock cabinets are affordable and accessible, with less lead time than custom or semi-custom cabinets. This makes them an acceptable choice for homeowners who are in a hurry or don’t need unique-sized cabinets or customized details. 


Stock cabinets are not as high-quality as custom or semi-custom cabinets. If you have a uniquely-shaped kitchen, it may be difficult to find stock cabinets that fit. With so many limitations, often times customizations have to be done in the field at the time of installation to accommodate sizing issues. This can cause installing stock cabinets to end up being even more expensive than installing customized cabinets. Many homeowners have unique features they’d like to add to their kitchens, such as a display area for special dishes or a spice organizer. Unfortunately, most stock cabinets don’t offer customization options like these. As well as stock cabinets are typically limited in door styles & colors options. 

What is Semi-Custom Cabinetry?

Semi-custom cabinetry is a product that’s between stock cabinetry and custom cabinetry. While semi-custom cabinets have fewer design options than custom cabinets, they’re more customizable than stock cabinets. Semi-custom cabinets come in standard sizes but offer materials, finishes, and fixtures that can be modified. 

Here’s an example: semi-custom cabinets might offer hundreds of different door styles and as many finishes to choose from, but the height of the cabinets might not be customizable. What you get depends on which semi-custom cabinet manufacturer you’re working with.


Semi-custom cabinets are usually higher-quality than stock cabinets and may be less expensive than custom cabinets.  


While semi-custom cabinets offer some customization options, they’re not nearly as customizable as custom cabinets.

What are Custom Cabinets?

As the name suggests, custom cabinets are built to suit your specifications. If you’re going to purchase custom cabinets, the world is your oyster. Instead of operating from a fixed set of sizes or finishes and having to make it fit, you start with a blank slate and lots of flexibility in your final look and feel.

custom pantry

Cabinet materials, size, construction, finish, and color can be adjusted according to your preferences. If you have a unique or custom-shaped kitchen, custom cabinetry will adapt seamlessly to the space, making it feel beautiful & unique to you. 

While custom cabinets can be made with the same materials or finishes as stock cabinetry, you’re not limited to those materials. If you want to upgrade to high-quality material or exotic wood species, you have the power to do that. If you want to choose unique finishes or paint colors, you can do that as well. 

Ultimately, custom cabinets can be built with whatever material you desire, from engineered materials like acrylic to genuine wood like alder, maple, cherry, hickory, or walnut.


You have complete control over the look, feel, and size of custom cabinets, which makes them higher-quality cabinets than stock cabinets. The resale value of a home with custom cabinetry is higher, and you can create a custom look to suit any need or interest you have. For example, if you love baking, you can install a baker’s pantry or a customized baking cabinet to hold all your equipment. 


Custom cabinets are built and designed to order, which means they can take a little longer to obtain. And because of the higher quality wood, hardware, and attention to detail, they cost more than stock cabinets.

Which is Right for You?

We typically recommend custom & semi-custom cabinets rather than stock cabinets for clients who desire a more up-to-date, customized look for their kitchens. For example, if you intend to open your space by moving a wall or adding a breakfast bar or kitchen island; stock cabinets may not fit your new space. Custom or semi-custom cabinets are the best choice in that case.

Convenient storage keeps ingredients and equipment hidden but close at handIn addition to fitting your newly designed space perfectly, semi-custom and custom cabinets will last longer and look more beautiful over their lifespan. You get to create the kitchen storage or bathroom space you need and enjoy a truly unique appearance. 

Plus, you have complete control over the material and finishes that go into your cabinets. If you’re investing in your kitchen or bathroom, do it right and add the right cabinetry for your house and family.


Why Choose Cabinet Depot for Your Next Project?

Cabinet Depot is an excellent choice for all your cabinet needs. Everything we offer is unique and specific to you and your design. The only thing we keep in stock at Cabinet Depot is coffee, and lots of it!

We like to tell our customers this: Not only is the quality of materials and craftsmanship very important. But what sets Cabinet Depot apart from the others is the experience, expertise, and genuine care in helping you choose, not only the right product for your project, but also the very best design and layout for your project. All of our cabinets are “made to order.” Nothing that we install is pre-made. Also, everything we sell is made in America, and we 100% stand behind our products.

Ready to learn more about our products or how our Pensacola team can help you create your dream kitchen or bathroom? Contact us today.