Most people will typically buy cabinets only once or twice in their lives. Therefore, shopping for cabinets can be overwhelming and stressful. You don’t understand the lingo. You don’t really know what you are looking at, you don’t know what you are comparing, and you don’t understand the difference in price.

Cabinets can be broken down into three classifications: stock, semi-custom, and custom. Stock cabinets come in stock sizes with limited options indoor style and finish. Semi-custom cabinets are semi modifiable and custom cabinets are built to spec.

Stock cabinets are the most economical cabinets. Stock cabinets are built-in 3-inch increments. For example, base and wall cabinets start at 9 inches wide and go up in 3-inch increments to 42 inches. Therefore, you can buy 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, 33, 36 and 42 width cabinets. Any left-over space can be filled with wall or base fillers.

Semi-custom cabinets are semi-modifiable from a catalog of stock cabinets. You can modify certain things to the cabinet to allow them to fit into your space. Typically, semi-custom cabinets are modifiable in width, height and depth to ¼ inch increments. There still some things that your semi-custom cabinet manufacturers will not do, but their catalogs are typically large and most likely they have a cabinet to fill your space. These cabinets fall into the moderate to expensive category. The more modifications and the more “bells and whistles” the more expensive the cabinets.

Custom cabinets are fully custom. The cabinet manufacturer or builder will build your cabinets to your exact specifications. Sometimes custom cabinets are built by a local cabinet maker, but not always. There are large cabinet manufacturers who will build your cabinets to your exact specifications. Are custom cabinets always better? Not necessarily. Your local cabinet builder may not be able to offer you the finish and door style you desire. They may not be using top tier materials. They also may not be able to offer you the inserts and pullouts you are looking for. You will, however, end up with a kitchen specific to your desires and needs.

So how do you choose? The first thing you need to look at is your budget. Custom cabinets may not fit everyone’s budget, semi-custom may fit your budget and needs, or stock cabinets may be the price range you are looking for.

When comparing cabinets be sure you are comparing “apples to apples”. The cabinets need to match up. Are you comparing plywood construction to fiberboard construction? Are you comparing wood doors to MDF doors? Are you comparing soft close doors and drawers to regular closing cabinets? All these things will vary the price of your cabinets.

If you are flipping a house, finally getting your dream home, or just trying to update to a space, there is a cabinetry solution to suit your needs.


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