Options for Kitchen Cabinets

Showrooms feature stock, semi-stock, or custom kitchen cabinets.

By Bob Vila | Updated Nov 15, 2013 11:38 PM

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Kitchen Cabinet Options

Photo: Ben Herzog Architect, PC

In-Stock and Semi-Stock Kitchen Cabinet Options
Ready-to-assemble open-frame and pre-assembled kitchen cabinets are easy and convenient to purchase and install. Available in-stock at most large home centers, these no-frill cabinets typically feature engineered wood construction with a melamine finish and steel-sided drawers. Style and finish choices are limited, but it is the most economical way to go. In-stock cabinets cost less to purchase, but professional installation is still an option.

Semi-stock cabinets let the homeowner create a more personalized space, but often require four to six weeks for delivery. Home centers offer showroom displays of semi-custom cabinets while staff designers help customers visualize their kitchen space and design a plan to meet their needs.

Semi-custom cabinets feature higher quality workmanship and materials than in-stock units, and offer a greater selection of design features like plate racks, corner cupboards, sliding shelves, or pantries. Styles and finishes vary widely, but semi-stock cabinets typically have sides constructed of engineered wood or plywood and solid wood doors or faces.

Oak, maple, cherry, and hickory are all popular woods for kitchen cabinets. Veneers over plywood are another option. Cabinets may be open or framed, but drawers are usually constructed from solid wood and are dovetail or dowel assembled.

In-stock and semi-stock cabinets are built to industry specs. Standard base cabinets built in the U.S. are 34-1/2 inches high and 24 inches deep. Cabinet sides are typically 3/4 of an inch. Wall cabinets, except those above a range hood or refrigerator, are 30 inches high and 12 inches deep. Some manufacturers will customize a semi-stock cabinet by giving the buyer the ability to decrease the depth of a base or wall cabinet. Widths increase in three-inch increments from six to 48 inches. Trim work or filler is used to make up the difference when cabinet measurements do not fit the space exactly.

Custom Kitchen Cabinets
When it comes to custom cabinetry, your budget is the only limit. A custom-built cabinet is not constructed until it is ordered. Most people assume that custom work will be the most expensive option, this is not always the case. Upper-end semi-stock cabinets often cost the same as basic custom cabinetry. For example, if the only issue is cabinet width, a custom unit can be built to the homeowner’s specs using engineered wood, which costs far less than solid wood but still allows for a custom fit.

If expense is not an issue, custom-built kitchen cabinets provide the best of all worlds to the homeowner with discriminating taste. Choices include hand-selected wood, reclaimed wood, and exotic woods like mahogany. Cabinetmakers will even match the paint or finish of an existing hutch or corner cupboard. Homeowners can select everything from glass doors with the look of authentic hand-blown glass to inset doors with decorative beading. Pie-cut corner cabinets, full extension glides on drawers, and Super-Susans provide added convenience.

Custom cabinetmakers vary in their delivery time. Depending on the complexity of the job, a homeowner should allow six to 12 weeks for construction and delivery. Installation takes time, too. Some jobs require up to six months and much on-site time.