Should you opt for top quality stock cabinets when you are remodeling your kitchen, or hold out for custom cabinets? Watch a few design shows and you might come away with the idea that stock cabinets are inferior. Stock cabinets, which get their name from the fact that they come in a more limited range of standard sizes and colors and are often “in stock,” are quality products that will add beauty and functionality to your kitchen.
Stock vs. Custom Cabinets
Stock cabinets come 12 or 24 inches deep and up to 36 inches high. They are prefinished in a limited number of colors and are priced based on size, material type, and color. Because the sizes are limited, you will have to plan your remodel around the size. Since prebuilt cabinets are constructed and ready to go, you should be able to get them almost immediately from your distributor.
Custom cabinets are built by hand in any color, size, and style you need. They are usually all wood instruction, which is not always true for other types of cabinets. What might cost $8,000 to $10,000 for an average remodel might cost 3 to 4 times that for custom job. Since the cabinets are made just for you, the lead time may be 6 to 8 weeks. The prices for custom cabinets usually include installation, while installation for stock cabinets from big-box stores is about $100 each for single door cabinets and about $300 for wider ones, in addition to the price of the cabinet. Most people do not find this is a good DIY job, so planning on professional installation is wise.
Falling between custom and stock options are semi-custom cabinets. These products come in standard sizes like stock cabinets, but have custom stains, styles, and hardware that will bring the price up to about double what purely stock cabinets will cost.
Picking Good Quality Stock Cabinets you’ll Love
For most customers, stock cabinets are the perfect addition to the kitchen. Among manufacturers of stock cabinets, there are variations in colors, door style, and other features so the average homeowner will be able to find something that will look great. This is not surprising. Stock products represent the sizes, colors, and features that the majority of buyers want. As trends change, so will what is “in stock.”
When purchasing stock cabinets, there are quality differences among manufacturers and among lines that different companies carry. The best quality stock cabinets are marked by these characteristics:
Made of wood or plywood, rather than pressed wood.
Offer wall thickness at least one half inch for sturdiness.
Have consistent finishes and colors so that your whole set will match.
Feature full extension hardware, which means the doors will open all the way so you can easily access them.
Dovetail joinery or metal box on drawer backs inside rather than staples.
Cabinets with these features will last much longer and look nice longer than those without them. With stock cabinets, you will have to compromise a bit on finish, color, and even on size, as most stock cabinets only come 36 inches tall. If the dimensions of your kitchen don’t match up with stock cabinets, you may have to have filler strips installed or have a cabinet that is an inch or two shy of where you would like it to end. The trade-off is that you will save thousands of dollars.
Choose Wisely for Lasting, Affordable Style
Although prebuilt cabinets are not custom, they are personalized with hardware of your choosing. As long as you select the best quality you can afford, you will be very pleased with how stock cabinets look and function in your kitchen.