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Ask a Designer: Cabinet Types


What is the difference among ready-to-assemble, stock, semi-custom and custom cabinets?

It’s pretty much ready to assemble, it’s out of the box, it gets put in it, and those are pretty much what you’re going to see at the Home Depots and Menard’s and Lowe’s. Those are the ones that the handy-man can pick up and do a project pretty quick and are probably the least expensive. There will be a difference in construction, obviously a difference in finish. There’s less choices. They’ll be stapled cabinets, as opposed to dowels and duck-tail joints, and so on.

Stock cabinets come manufactured in specific sizes and cannot be modified. Custom cabinets are made specifically for kitchen orders. They can be modified in size, in height, depth, width; and that’s because the factories to make their own doors most of the time. So, most factories that make stock cabinets have specific door sizes and cannot changes those, so we end up using those in projects that are a little bit more budget-conscious. Also, with custom cabinets, you end up being able to customize the finishes, so you can make it a little darker or a little lighter; add more glaze, take glaze away. So, you have a little bit more control over the design of the kitchen and the final project.

Semi-custom allows some customization to the cabinets, but a lot of times what happens is you pay a price for that customization, because they have to pull it out of the line, make a change to that cabinet, and order doors special. So, a lot of times, when you try to do a semi-custom cabinet as a custom cabinet, it’s not as pristine or precise as a custom cabinet. Most of the time, semi-custom does not allow width changes; it’s mostly in depth.