Custom Cabinets Vs. Semi-Custom Cabinets – What You Should Know

Are you wondering about the difference between custom cabinets and semi-custom cabinets?

In a nutshell, custom cabinets provide limitless options for special customization, installation, and one-of-a-kind appearance, while semi-custom cabinets offer limited customization options, less flexibility of placement, and less overall quality.

let’s thoughtfully break down the above recap of custom cabinets vs. semi-custom cabinets further.

Making a final decision regarding your cabinets depends on your ability to understand the similarities, the differences, and the reasons why and when you should choose one over the other.

Before we dive into the comparisons let’s briefly define the cabinet options available on the market.

Overview of Stock, Semi-Custom, and Custom Cabinets

While you specifically are researching custom cabinets vs. semi-custom cabinets. Knowing the definition of all three options can help provide a fuller and clearer understanding of the rest of the article.

Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets are pre-built, factory assembled cabinets that are available immediately at most local hardware stores. There are no customization options, what you see is what you get. These cabinets are the cheapest cabinet option with lower quality materials (like particle board) used in its build.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets are cabinets that offer a limited amount of customization options such as colors, sizes, designs, etc. These cabinets are more expensive than stock cabinets due to more options for customization, their higher quality of materials, and their need to be pre-ordered.

Custom Cabinets

Custom cabinets are high-quality cabinets that offer unlimited customization options. Any color, style, carving, nifty space-saving design, wood, stain, unique sizing, etc. is available with custom cabinets. All the materials in custom cabinets offer exceptional quality such as wood, stains, and paints. Plus, custom cabinets are handcrafted piece by piece and designed to fit like a hand-in-glove in any desired room, no matter its unique setup.

Now that the distinctions of each available cabinet, let’s move on to discussing specifically custom cabinets vs. semi-custom cabinets.

Take a moment to consider the following factors.

Some Factors to Consider!

  • What is your main motivation for getting new cabinets? Is it for the increased beauty of a room? Is it a necessary “evil”, in other words, has it been put off long enough and just needs to get done? Is it on behalf of someone else?
  • What is your budget like? Is your budget tight or are you free to invest in your ideal cabinets regardless of their price?
  • What are the spaces to which your cabinets will be fitted? Are the areas where you hope to put new cabinets unique, tight, or straightforward?

Taking a moment to consider the above factors will be helpful in determining whether custom cabinets or semi-custom cabinets are the right fit for you.

Now, let’s start comparing custom cabinets vs. semi-custom cabinets by considering their similarities.

custom cabinets vs semi custom cabinets details

Custom Cabinets vs. Semi-Custom Cabinets– The Similarities

Both custom cabinets and semi-custom cabinets share the following 3 similarities.

1. Customization is Available  

Both semi-custom cabinets and custom cabinets share the option of customization. So, both would provide options for a variety of door styles, finishes, colors, and sizes.

ayr custom cabinetry

2. Higher Quality Materials and Build

Stock cabinets and semi-custom cabinets are not the same in quality. Semi-custom cabinets are a step up from stock cabinets and more like custom cabinets in that they offer higher quality materials and build.

3. There is a Wait Time

The final similarity between semi-custom cabinets and custom cabinets is that the cabinets are not immediately available due to both being pre-ordered.

custom cabinets vs semi custom cabinets

Custom Cabinets vs. Semi-Custom Cabinets – The Differences

You might be surprised to discover that some of their similarities are also their differences. There are 4 differences between custom cabinets and semi-custom cabinets.

 Let’s break these differences down.

1. Amount of Customization

While semi-custom cabinets offer a decent variety of customization options for colors, stains, hardware, door style, details, size, shape etc., there is a strict limit.

For example, semi-custom cabinets would offer a maximum of 15-30 different finishes and door styles.

In stark contrast, custom cabinets offer unlimited customization options. The sky is truly the limit when it comes to the available types of wood, colors, stains, hardware, door styles, sizes, finishes and shapes available for the cabinets to fit flawlessly into the desired rooms.  

Plus, custom cabinets also come with the custom options of custom hoods (for above your stove) to match perfectly with the rest of the cabinetry.  Custom carvings are also available to add a one-of-a-kind appearance to any part of the cabinetry.

2. Build Features & Functionality

custom cabinets vs semi custom cabinets recessed utensil storage drawer

Semi-custom cabinets have definite limits on fitting into your ideal or unique storage spaces.

For example, if you wished for your cabinet(s) to fit into a space of unusual dimensions, most likely a semi-custom cabinet’s build would not be able to be specially designed to fit the space’s unique dimensions.  

However, custom cabinets are like tailored clothing. The prospective area awaiting the cabinets are measured and then built to fit like a hand in glove. No matter the available spacing whether it be tight or an odd measurement, a custom cabinet can fit anywhere and look like it always belonged in that specific space.

Plus, custom cabinets offer unlimited functionality options, whereas semi-custom cabinets have limited functionality options.

Any way you can imagine making your kitchen cabinets more efficient for holding dishes, silverware, etc. can be done. If you wish for cabinets built with display glass windows, it shall be done. Do you like the idea of organizational compartments built to size for miscellaneous notepads, pens, etc.? It shall be done. Wine display shelves, soft close mixer lifts, a flush cabinet for your espresso maker, you name it, it can be done with custom cabinets!

Optimal functionality and custom cabinets go hand in hand.

3. Quality of Materials & Build

While both custom cabinets and semi-custom cabinets offer higher quality materials and build, custom cabinets prove to provide a much higher quality of both materials and build.

Semi-custom cabinets would try to avoid stock cabinet’s use of cheap particle board or laminates. However, semi-custom cabinets have been known to use particle board in addition to plywood, and MDF with veneers. These cheaper woods are then combined with genuine wood (which is usually used for the front of the cabinet or its doors).

Again, in stark contrast to semi-custom cabinets, high-end custom cabinetry companies prioritize only genuine wood throughout the entire cabinet’s build. Woods such as oak, maple, cherry, hickory, alder, etc. Plus, custom cabinetry companies use only the most resilient finishes, durable, lasting paints, and quality hardware.

While semi-custom cabinets are manufactured in factories, custom cabinets are often handcrafted piece-by-piece under the skilled care of professional craftsmen within shops.

Custom cabinetry’s build involves artistry. The craftsmen and women give utmost care and attention to every detail of its joinery which (along with the quality materials) ensures that custom cabinets will last generations of reliable and stunning use.

4. Price

The final difference between custom cabinets vs. semi-custom cabinets is price. Sem-custom cabinets are less expensive than custom cabinets.

It really varies from situation to situation; however, semi-custom cabinets are usually 15% – 30% cheaper.

Custom cabinets are considered the most expensive cabinetry. However, it is important to remember you get much more for your money in both the short and long term.

custom cabinets vs semi custom cabinets kitchen

Why & When to Choose Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets are the ideal pick if the following closely portrays your situation.

  • Your spending budget is tight
  • You want a limited number of customizable options to choose from
  • The setup of your kitchen or rooms offers a straightforward fit for the cabinets
  • Affordability trumps functionality and unique appearance
  • You are satisfied with semi-custom cabinet’s available functionality, customization options, build, and level of quality
custom cabinets vs semi custom cabinets box stock
Photo Credit: Lakeland Liquidation

Why & When to Choose Custom Cabinets

Custom cabinets are the ideal pick if the following more accurately describes your situation.

  • You want to increase the value of your home – Adding quality custom cabinetry will increase the value of the home, especially since kitchens are one of the highest selling points for home resale
  • Your budget is wide open
  • You want to ensure that no fillers or dead space remain after the cabinets are installed
  • Functionality is a top priority
  • You believe in quality just as much as beauty
  • You wish to create a one-of-a-kind appearance in certain rooms
beautiful custom cabinets vs semi custom cabinets

The Conclusion of Custom Cabinets vs. Semi-Custom Cabinets

Hopefully, the above comparisons between custom cabinets and semi-custom cabinets helped you understand their similarities and differences and come to the best solution for your future cabinets.

Overall, semi-custom cabinets provide a good option for satisfactory storage.

However, custom cabinets will by far exceed your expectations for storage possibilities, customization, quality, beauty, and longevity.

Is Custom Cabinets the Right Fit for You & Your Home?

If you discovered that custom cabinets are indeed your ideal route to transforming certain rooms in your home, Ayr Cabinetry offers high-end custom cabinetry.

We are based in Nappanee, Indiana and if you are not local, contact us and we can see if your location is still within our service area.

Plus, check out our portfolio of stunning custom cabinets and/or get your very own free consultation.

Otherwise, wishing you the best in the successful transformation of your home into one that will leave a lasting impression!

custom cabinets vs semi custom cabinets library

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