Kitchen Cabinet Styles: The Differences Between Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom

If you've already renovated a kitchen or are just beginning the process, you know how overwhelming the details can be. Our Fittings and Material Spotlights are quick guides to basic kitchen fixtures to familiarize you with terminology, pros and cons, and relevant reader reviews. Today we look at kitchen cabinets. What are the differences between stock, semi-custom, and custom kitchen cabinets?

The first thing to know when noting differences between stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinets is that the terms refer to the type of production methods used to make the cabinets, and not to the quality of the cabinets.

STOCK
Stock cabinets are readymade, pre-manufactured cabinets, meaning they're mass-produced in a factory and ready to ship when ordered. They're sold in modular units, and no customization is available. What you see is what you get! The advantages of stock cabinets are affordability and a quick delivery time. However, you usually have a limited selection of styles, shapes, colors, wood type, etc.

Standard Width: Start at 9" with 3" increments to 48"
Standard Depth: 12" for wall cabinets, 24" for oven, base, and utility cabinets.

SEMI-CUSTOM
Semi-custom cabinets are basically stock cabinets with extra detailing options. The basic cabinetry sizes still apply, but consumers have the option to change certain dimensions, like resizing the cabinet drawers and door fronts, or increasing/decreasing the cabinet depth. The advantages of semi-custom cabinets is that you get the feeling you have some individual input into the design (however limited) without the cost of full-on custom cabinets. But sometimes that's all you need to get great cabinets without the expense of a custom job. Semi-custom truly is the best of both worlds.

Standard Width: Start at 9" with 1" increments to 48"
Standard Depth: Can be reduced or increased according to the manufacturer's guidelines.

CUSTOM
Custom cabinets are built to your specifications, so they can be pretty much anything you want! It is possible to buy "custom" cabinets, which means you start with a standard size cabinet and add on the details and features you want. Because of this, custom cabinets are expensive, labor-intensive, and usually take a few weeks or months to complete. Custom cabinets are either built on- or- off-site by a skilled carpenter, or manufactured on a build-to-order basis.

Standard Width: Customizable
Standard Depth: Customizable

What kind of cabinets do you have in your kitchen? Share your experiences and recommendations!

Related: Save & Splurge: 5 Places To Put Your Money in a Kitchen Renovation

(Images, left to right: Leela Cyd Ross, Interiors by Francesca, Bethany Nauert)

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