Kitchen Design & Remodeling Blog

Custom vs Semi Custom Cabinetry (Reviews, Ratings & Prices)

Posted by Dianne Aucello on Mon, Oct 15, 2012 @ 11:11 PM

When deciding to remodel your kitchen, choosing your cabinetry is one of the first steps.  Cabinetry accounts for 40% of your total budget.  With over 1600 cabinet manufacturers, the decision will be neither quick nor easy.   Of the types of cabinet manufacturing: stock cabinetry, semi-custom cabinetry, and custom cabinetry, this blog reviews semi-custom vs custom, to help narrow down your decision.

 

A.  Semi-Custom Cabinetry:

Semi custom cabinetry is a good product, the Better out of Good, Better and Best.  Mostly plywood construction, soft close doors and drawers, perhaps at an upcharge.  Other features:

  • Standard offering of wood species; maple, cherry, oak, hickory, paint grade with a range of basic finishes
  • Cabinetry is constructed with 3" increments
  • Modifications include width, depth and height, not always face frame configuration
  • Custom pieces can be built, such as a custom mantel hood, with a price tag
  • May or may not manufacturer inset cabinetry.  Full overlay may have 1/2" spacing
  • Cabinetry is built to order, lead time is approximately 5 weeks
  • More affordable than custom
  • Less detail capabilities that are available in custom, cabinets are ordered from a catalog of options
  • Warranties vary widely and do not relate to products construction
  • Wood lumber is ordered per kitchen, but not hand selected.  There is a wider range of what is considered acceptable wood characteristics for cabinetry use.
  • Accessories are wood and/or plastic, bought from an outside vendor, and modified to fit inside the standard sized cabinets

 custom vs semi custom cabinetry

With a simple Shaker door with a maple stain, these cabinets can easily be produced by a semi-custom manufacturer.

 

B Custom Cabinetry

Custom cabinetry is an excellent product, the Better out of Good, Better and Best.  Mostly plywood construction, soft close doors and drawers, as their standard specification.  Other features:

  • Wide offering of wood species; in addition to the standard, also lyptus, beech, mahogany, and exotic veneers and laminates 
  • Wide range of finishes. Capable of matching any finish, from a Ben Moore paint deck, or color from a tile or fabric swatch.  Finishes are applied by hand, carefully brushed on, especially paint with a glaze.
  • The same cabinet can have different colors factory applied - such as painting the back of an open stained cabinet
  • Cabinetry is constructed at any size; width depth and height to a 1/16"
  • Cabinetry can be combined as one, with custom face frames.
  • Custom pieces are easily built.
  • Tolerances for door clearances are tighter.
  • Cabinetry is built to order, lead time is approximately 7-8 weeks
  • Not an economical solution
  • Endless detail capabilities, will turn a sketch into a technical CNC production drawing
  • Warranties vary widely and do not relate to products construction
  • Wood lumber is ordered per kitchen, and is hand selected.  Wood sections with even slight imperfections are not used on your kitchen. Grain is chosen for consistency.
  • Accessories are made in the factory and accurately fit the cabinetry.
  • The same cabinet can have different colors factory applied - such as painting the back of an open stained cabinet
  • The cabinetry is staged and viewed together before it leaves the shop to be visually inspected all at once. Any finish or mismatch is corrected before it leaves the factory.

 

 

custom vs semicustom cabinetry

With custom cabinetry, these inset cabinets can be joined, sharing the stiles.

 

Basically, if you don't require custom finishes or pieces, you do not need to pay the expense for the complex equipment and skilled labor that is needed of custom cabinetry.  With less details or a simpler layout, custom costs may not be worth it especially if it means you can then splurge on the pricier granite.  However, for precision with inset cabinetry, an extremely durable paint finish or an amazing mantel hood detail, custom cabinetry would work for you.  Sometimes, if you have 1 or 2 custom cabinets, the upcharge from a semi-custom product may be enough for you to upgrade to full custom.  Making a one time custom piece slows down the semi-custom fabricator, therefore the sometimes hefty upcharge.   Also, make sure you are aware of the current blitz of manufacturer's promotions for their products.  Over the past year, they have varied from 10% off all cabinetry, or free glazed finish, or free sink base if the order is 10 or more cabinets.  These promotions can help you get more cabinetry for your dollar.

 

For additional cabinetry information, please refer to:

How to Select Kitchen Cabinets - Construction Levels

How to Select Kitchen Cabients - Cabinetry Wood Types

 

Have a more specific question?  Ask us!  We will be happy to help you!

 

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Tags: cabinets, custom cabinetry, semi-custom cabinetry, custom cabinets, semi-custom cabinets