Custom vs. Stock Cabinets

This is much more than a matter of money. And while it is true that most custom made cabinets are more expensive than stock cabinets, the main issues here are: quality, design and many important details.


This custom cabinet has a window on the back side and glass doors on the front.

Quality cabinets are made out of various types of durable materials and employ superior production practices. For example, some of the best cabinets use high end particle board and other manufactured wood products. Particle board is also the standard material for low-end cabinets. The differences may not be visible and even if they are, they may require expert analysis.

Quality cabinets are available from custom cabinet makers and from stock/"off the shelf" manufacturers. Figuring out if the cabinets are a quality product takes a lot of research.

The design of a cabinet may dictate that it be built to measure or to unusual specifications. Some stock cabinet shops may also have the ability to build units that are not part of their normal line, in most cases special sizes and features are the preview of custom cabinet makers.

I have had some success in combining the two options. I purchased a set of good stock units for our kitchen and then had a custom cabinet shop build some matching units with unique dimensions.

The "details" you need and want may also be available in both types of cabinets: materials, quality drawer and door hardware, drawer configuration, "pull-out" units of various types... Its these details that require careful research and written specifications for all involved. Just one more reminder that kitchens are one of the most complicated spaces in any home.

In the final analysis, both types of cabinets can be a good choice if they fit your needs and your budget.