Whether designing your kitchen, bathroom vanity, or any other room with cabinetry, you will have three types of cabinet manufacturers to choose from. Across the industry, cabinets can be ordered from stock, semi-custom, or custom cabinet companies. The differences relate mostly to the quality of the cabinetry, the amount of customizations and modifications available, and the amount of door styles and color options available. Once you begin the design process, it will become very clear how the cabinet manufacturer affects or limits the design.
What are custom kitchen cabinets and how are they different from other cabinet lines?
This is a question that we get very often. The quick answer is: Custom cabinets are the highest quality of cabinets available, have the most extensive door style and finishing options available, and have the greatest capability of customizing and modifying cabinets. A kitchen design that is heavily focused on attention to detail and unique features will be best executed with custom cabinetry.
Expansive door styles
The door and drawer styles you choose will be one of the most aesthetically important decisions to make. When designing with a custom cabinet manufacturer, there is almost no limit to the door and drawer style options. The styles available in their catalogues greatly outnumber those available in a semi-custom or stock cabinet line. Furthermore, most of these door styles can be individually modified. For example a “shaker door” that is traditionally made with all square edges can be modified to have a different edge profile OR a different framing bead. This same concept extends to most custom cabinet door styles. Custom doors can also be modified by specifying that the door frames are made in non-standard sizes. This is done to make each door and drawer frame line up perfectly throughout the entire kitchen.
Finishing options with custom cabinetry are also almost limitless. In addition to a large selection of standard stains, paints (full cover), glazes, and brushstroke glazes, you can also color match your cabinets to any color or stain. Glazes and brushstroke glazes can be customized as well by requesting less or more glazing (lighter or heavier). Custom companies also offer “distressing” options. Often, these are available as “a-la-carte” distressing, which means you can specify various degrees of distressing throughout a long list of distressing techniques, such as “planking,” “finish rub through,” and “sanded corners.” Throughout the process of color matching, customizing glazes, or enhancing your finish with distressing, sample doors are sent for customer approval. In essence, you can use these custom finish options to create a finish that is completely unique to your kitchen.
High End Quality kitchen cabinets
Custom cabinets are considered the highest quality because of the material used for the cabinet boxes, drawer boxes, drawer slides, and hinges. Cabinet boxes are typically made from ¾” plywood with natural wood veneer interiors, matching wood veneer exteriors, and wood edge banding. Drawer boxes and roll out drawers are made from solid wood with dovetail construction. Drawer bottoms are made ¼” thick but can be upgraded to ½”. The hardware used for hinges and for soft-close, full extension, under-mount slides are very high quality.
Kitchen cabinet customization
Custom cabinet manufacturers allow for the highest level of cabinet modifications. Although modifying widths, depths, and heights isn’t limited only to custom cabinets (some semi-custom companies will also make these modifications), there are many custom features that are only available using custom manufacturers. Some examples are: shaped valances, modified stiles and rails on cabinets, multi-access cabinets, pocket doors cabinets, specialized storage, appliance panels and flush inset appliance installations, and custom wood hoods. A good example of cabinet customization for practical use is a “command center” we designed for one client. The cabinets were made with specified openings for storing and organizing paper, envelopes, and other related items. In General, we can design custom cabinets to achieve all sorts of specific requests.
Molding options and kitchen cabinet detail
As mentioned earlier, one of the main distinguishing features of custom cabinetry is the ability to design with great attention to detail. Although not always apparent to average person, it’s the detail that will make your kitchen stand out from all the rest. Such detail comes in the form of unique moldings and decorative accents, wood carvings such as corbels and decorative legs/posts, special paneling, and custom shaped cabinets and cabinet doors. Although a good designer will pay attention to detail regardless of the cabinet line, he or she will be less limited with custom cabinetry. One example of this is crown molding (crown molding is the finishing material used at the top of your wall cabinets – it often runs along the ceiling.) A semi-custom cabinet line will have two or three crown molding styles to choose from. A custom cabinet line will have 10 or more standard crown moldings to choose from plus access to custom crown moldings ordered from decorative wood carving companies. This example extends to various types of moldings and accent pieces in your kitchen.
Kitchen Cabinet box style
Cabinets can be made with different style boxes. The options are: Frameless full overlay, framed flush inset, framed beaded inset, framed full overlay, and framed partial inset. While stock and semi-custom cabinet lines are usually made in ONE of those styles, custom manufacturers make all styles. The standard way of making an inset cabinet box is with a ¾” thick face frame and ¾” thick doors. Custom companies also make 1” thick face frames and 1” thick doors for those who would like a heavier, more solid construction.
Are custom kitchen cabinets right for me?
Custom kitchen cabinets have many benefits. This also makes it the most expensive cabinet option. So how can you know if custom cabinet are the right choice for you? The best way to start is to speak to a designer who can help lead you in the right direction. For now, here are some questions to ask yourself…
- How long do you plan to live in your current house and are you renovating for re-sale?
- Is the motivation for the renovation more artistically driven, or just for the sake of functionality?
- What size space are you working with and how important is it to get the most out of every inch?
- If working within a budget, do you want to invest heavily in cabinetry vs. appliances, countertops, or other fixtures and materials?
- What is the value of your home? Based on that value, what level of cabinets would fit appropriately?
- How much does precision, detail, and custom options matter to you?
- Do you have a specific door style or color in mind, and how important is it?
- Would you be happy with choosing from standard options that semi-custom or stock cabinet lines carry?