Here’s an article I ran across that did a really good job of explaining the differences between custom cabinets and stock cabinets.
Article by Matt Goering
Custom cabinets are cabinets specially made to meet the space and design specifications of your kitchen. While they do cost more than stock or semi-stock cabinets, they are generally well worth the extra money and longer waiting period between placing and receiving your order. Because they are manufactured by experienced cabinetry craftsmen using superior methods and materials, they look better and hold up longer than other cabinetry options.
What’s the Difference Between Custom and Stock Cabinetry?
The difference between these two products is enormous. Most stock cabinets are made of inferior materials which wear quicker, fall apart faster, and generally aren’t manufactured very soundly in the first place. The goal of a stock cabinet maker is to mass produce cheap cabinets at a breakneck pace, ensuring customers a generic product that arrives at their home in a minimum amount of time (usually less than 4 weeks).
Most stock cabinets are made of particle board materials covered with veneer or imitation plastic wood, presenting a number of problems. For starters, particle board cabinetry tends to flake with use, causing the veneer (often held on by cheap glues) to come off the cabinets as the subsurface degrades. On top of that, particle board is notorious for coming apart. Because it is a less dense material, fasteners tend to pull out and shelving bows under the weight of dishes. Considering your cabinets hold some of your most prized and fragile possessions, it’s important to ask yourself whether you’re willing to risk your dining set in order to save a few bucks.
Custom cabinets, on the other hand, are almost always constructed of solid hardwood, eliminating the flaking, sagging and eventual degradation that is part of cheaper materials. Add to that the natural beauty of properly stained hardwoods, and it’s clear that custom cabinets are the way to go.
Size Does Matter:
The other clear benefit of custom cabinets is that they are custom fit to optimize the space in which they are installed. Because stock cabinets are pre-manufactured, they simply can’t provide the optimal space usage that a set of cabinets has the potential to provide. Custom kitchen cabinets, on the other hand, are made to fit your particular cabinet needs. They can be manufactured for placement in hard to fit corners, be built deeper than stock cabinets because of the integrity of their materials, and be built to more perfectly fit the specific design demands of your kitchen. The goal of installing any set of cabinets is to make the most of the space afforded to you. Custom kitchen cabinets are far and away the most efficient way to do this, and the best solution to making the most of the space of you have.
Beauty and the Beast:
The final thing to consider when thinking about stock versus custom cabinets is the aesthetic factor. The truth is that veneer and wood imitation plastic simply can’t hold up to genuine solid hardwood materials when it comes to good looks. They might do the trick initially, but it’s important to note that these materials rarely maintain their showroom qualities. Wood imitation plastic tends to bubble and crack with age, and veneer, often applied over cheap particle board material, often peels off. Even well manufactured stock and semi-stock cabinets rarely hold their own in the long run. Because you’re talking about mechanized staining methods applied over inferior materials, the stain often fades and fails over time, creating a sharp contrast between the doors and the boxes of your cabinets. Custom cabinets almost are almost always stained by hand ensuring that it is done right and by someone who knows what they’re doing. Even more importantly, the stain is applied to materials that will last a lifetime if taken care of. This ensures that the stunning appearance of your custom kitchen cabinets will last for decades rather than years, as is the case with many stock cabinet options.
The final advantage of installing custom cabinetry is the expertise held by those who will be performing the installation. Many stock cabinet products are do-it-yourself projects—a risky proposal when you consider the demands you place on your kitchen cabinets. When you choose custom cabinetry, you’re also choosing skilled artisans who are skilled both in manufacturing your cabinets to your individual specifications, as well as in mounting those cabinets properly to ensure they have the longest life-span possible. Remember, you’re not just buying cabinets, you’re purchasing expertise, from the construction of your new custom cabinets on through to their installation. The cost is certainly more than stock cabinetry, but in the end you’ll be glad you chose to pay a little bit extra for your custom kitchen cabinets.
Matt Goering, formerly a carpenter and house painter, is a freelance writer for the home improvement industry who has published over 600 articles. Link to original article
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