What are Stock, Special Order, Semi-Custom and Custom Cabinets?

Stock cabinets are what you see in home improvement stores. Stores typically have a very basic, unfinished cabinet line that is ready to purchase and take home that day. These are usually the cheapest option, but selections are limited and they usually will need to be finished. Stock cabinets are usually cabinets in a basic form. Drawer fronts are typically made from glued strips of wood instead of one single piece of wood. Doors are usually paneled doors instead of raised wood panel doors. The cabinets will typically be cut from particle board, and if there is a back panel it is usually 1/8″ hard-board. Countertop fastening brackets will be small plastic corner brackets with a single screw hole for attaching to the counter.

Stock cabinets are offered in limited sizes, usually in 6″ increments, while custom cabinets are offered in 3″ increments. This is important when it comes to the overall layout of your kitchen. You will usually need fillers and end panels to have a finished look. The end of each cabinet that is exposed will need to be finished to match the front of the cabinets. This will include cutting and fitting finished panels onto the cabinet.However, if your cabinets will be from wall to wall, it won’t be an issue.

A level above stock cabinets would be ordering them from a home improvement store. The quality will be much better than stock cabinets, but your options when ordering are still limited. Expect to see laminated interiors in white or maple color, solid wood drawers and doors, and upgrades like soft close hinges and drawer slides. These cabinets arrive finished and ready to install. Typically, these will be offered in all 3″ increments, usually ranging from 12 inches wide to 36 or even 48 inches wide. Doors and drawer fronts are available in different styles and colors, but some options are still limited. The cabinets will still be 1/2″ thick carcasses and 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick on the cabinet backs.

The next option is semi-custom cabinets that are usually offered by specialty shops. You will be able to choose the color, finish, style of doors and drawers, with upgrades such as ball bearing slides and soft close hinges. It usually includes any fillers or pieces that may be needed to install the cabinets. Although you can choose within several options, you again are limited to what is offered.

Custom Cabinets will be the best quality cabinets that you can find. The cabinet company will go to your home and take the measurements themselves and will design a functional layout according to your specifications.  Since each cabinet has to be made individually, the quality will be very high. A custom cabinet will typically be made out of 5/8″ or 3/4″ material, whether it’s a laminate material for ease of cleaning, or hardwood plywood. This will be substantially stronger than particle board or medium density fiber-board. For cabinet backs you will typically see 1/2″ thick material, with thicker areas specifically manufactured for mounting screws. The tops will always incorporate a countertop fastening strip at the front and rear of base cabinets. As far as design and aesthetics go, the only limitations are your imagination and budget. Almost anything is possible because your cabinets will be made specifically for you. You have options like pull-out slides, trash organizers, limitless hardware choices, pantry organizers, and much more. Although custom cabinets are more expensive, you can design and get exactly what you want, instead of settling for what is available.

The last consideration is the countertops. There are many options available from natural stone, like granite and marble to engineered stone. The professionals at Countertops Chattanooga TN have the knowledge and expertise to help you find the perfect stone and the absolute best price around.


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