It used to be much easier a few decades ago to define these three areas, but the lines between them are getting blurrier all the time. For those of you starting out, let’s see if I can help:
- Mass-produced in stocking sizes and ready for shipment. Thousands of doors may be made one day, drawers the next, boxes the third day. Cabinets are assembled and warehoused. Minimal hand-sanding, common stock woods.
- Thick design brochures show off all the cabinets available, often with sizes.
- No customization of the cabinet boxes are offered or allowed. No custom stains, no changing the faces. What you see in the brochure is what you get.
- Easiest to install
- Customization of the widths, depths and heights of the drawer boxes possible, but it depends on the cabinet line — not all lines offer this. Perhaps the doors and drawer faces are a stocking size, so only changing the depth is possible. Perhaps all the doors and drawers are made after your order comes in, so the widths and heights can change but only within certain sizes. However, any time the cabinets are altered from the stock sizes, the line falls into the semi-custom definition. More sanding, better grades of wood are available.
- Design brochures are thinner than stock brochures, and may or may not have sizes
- Customization of a limited range of stains and paints may be possible, again depending on the line.
- Anything structurally feasible is possible. Not made until you order. In some cases, care is taken to make sure all the doors, drawers, and frame match in color and tone (important when one has, say, a white cabinet with a gray glaze). Multiple sanding and buffing. Premium select woods are offered.
- Design brochure may be thick or thin, but there are absolutely no sizes listed.
- Don’t see something for the stain or paint? Ask. Exotic wood? Ask. Curved cabinets? Yes. Inset, frame or frameless? Yes.
- Takes more time to install but that may be because the kitchens that use custom cabinets have some one-of-a-kind design elements.