Kitchen Cabinetry: Semi-Custom Cabinets vs. Stock Cabinets

When you’re planning a kitchen remodel, every detail counts. From floors to lighting fixtures, there’s a lot to think about, and selecting materials and finishes can get overwhelming pretty quickly. If you’re not sure where to start — color? countertop material? — it’s a good idea to remember that your kitchen cabinetry are the foundation around which you’ll build your entire kitchen design. They’re the functional aspect of your kitchen that determines not only where you’ll store all your stuff, but also how foot traffic will flow through the space and how you’ll do everything from the cooking and cleaning to helping your kids with homework, feeding the pets, and entertaining your guests. A lot of your life happens in the kitchen, so it’s important to get both the layout and the look just right.

So now that we agree cabinets are the first step in your kitchen design, what’s next? There are lots of options out there, and in theory you could gut your kitchen and have a cabinet maker build you anything you like in your blank slate of a room. In reality, however, not everyone can afford custom cabinets. Fortunately, you have other choices: stock cabinets and semi-custom cabinets.

What Are Stock Cabinets?

Stock cabinets are already made with standard dimensions with no option of custom modifications and stored in a warehouse. The standard depth for a wall cabinet is 12-inch, 24-inch depth for base cabinets, and 3-inch increments on cabinet width will get the job done.  The advantage of stock cabinets is that you can get them faster than the Semi-Custom cabinets with similar construction and they are ready to be installed. Stock Cabinets don’t offer a lot of bells and whistles but you have the option of purchasing accessories separately to enhance the functionality of the kitchen. These cabinets are perfect if the customer is on a budget, updating rental units or flipping a house. The colors and doors styles may be a little limited but the options available are in demand, as most manufacturers keep with the trends and appeal to the masses by having neutral colors and classic designs for door styles.

What Are Semi-Custom Cabinets?

Semi-Custom cabinets are a more flexible option when you’re looking for a unique layout or specialized storage options in your kitchen. These cabinets are often available in more sizes in depth and width, therefore you can get a better fit in your space. You’re also likely to have a much wider range of choices when it comes to door styles and colors. Most interesting to many homeowners is the array of accessories you can add inside the cabinets to customize your storage. Want a pull-out recycling bin or special tray for your stand mixer? Semi-Custom cabinets will get the job done, but for a more reasonable price than a carpenter would charge for a fully custom job.  Because Semi-Custom cabinets are made to accommodate your specifications, each kitchen is made to order and can take up to 6 weeks depending on the manufacturer.

Which Should You Choose?

In the end, your choice depends on finding the right blend of price and design. Though stock cabinets sometimes get a bad rap for being made of cheaper materials, you can find very high-quality stock cabinets out there. Likewise, don’t assume that semi-custom cabinets are solid wood or have dovetailed joints in the drawers — these terms are about whether the cabinets are pre-built or made to your specifications, not necessarily about the materials or joinery. As you shop around, be sure to work with accurate measurements of your space, and do your homework about any cabinet you’re considering to get the perfect foundation for your new kitchen.

Have a kitchen cabinetry question? Feel free to drop us a line, we would be happy to answer any questions you have!