Stock vs. Custom vs. Semi-Custom Cabinetry

Are you looking to upgrade your kitchen but need help figuring out where to start? Whether starting from scratch or simply replacing your old cabinets, choosing the right ones can be daunting. After all, with so many options available, it can take time to determine the best fit for you. 

Enter stock cabinet, custom, and semi-custom cabinets – the three main types of kitchen cabinetry available on the market. Each offers its unique set of pros and cons, and choosing the right one can significantly impact your renovation’s overall look, quality, and cost.

But how do you know which type of cabinet is right for your project? Fear not. This article will break down the differences between stock, custom, and semi-custom cabinets in a fun and lighthearted way.

From big-box retailers to bespoke cabinet makers, there’s a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to cabinetry. However, the choice ultimately comes down to your specific needs and budget. So, let’s get started and find the perfect cabinets for your kitchen!

Table of Contents

What is Stock Cabinetry?

Stock cabinets are pre-manufactured cabinets ready to go with no customization options. That means what you see is what you get. However, some custom cabinet makers may offer stock cabinets for faster delivery.

Stock cabinets come in set sizes, and while these sizes may vary from retailer to retailer, there are some industry-wide norms you can expect. They typically start at 9 inches wide and move up in 3-inch increments, with the largest size usually around 48 inches wide. In terms of height, stock cabinets are generally around 30-36 inches tall.

However, building a cabinetry system using only set sizes can be challenging for those with irregularly shaped kitchens. It’s like playing a Tetris game to ensure everything fits just right!

Remember that stock cabinets are a retailer’s most basic, entry-level product. The materials and construction methods used are likely economical and of low-tier quality. For example, cherry wood is almost always an upgrade option in the custom and semi-custom world, so don’t expect to find it in stock cabinets.

Instead, stock cabinets are usually built with inexpensive materials like melamine and plywood with veneers, simple joinery, and basic hardware. However, this means that only some stock cabinets are low-quality. Do your research when shopping to ensure you’re getting a quality product that won’t cost you more in repairs and replacement parts down the line.

One major advantage of choosing stock cabinets is the fast lead time. Many retailers have stock cabinets flat-packed and in stock, so you can drive them home or have them delivered the same day. Even if they’re not immediately available, stock lead times are much shorter than custom ones.

Stock cabinets might be the way to go, whether on a tight budget or short on time. Just do your homework and find the right ones for your needs.


Cost & Installation of Stock Cabinetry

Stock kitchen cabinets are a popular choice among homeowners due to their cost-effectiveness and convenience. On average, stock cabinets cost between $100 to $400 per linear foot. That means that to fit an average-sized kitchen with stock cabinetry, and homeowners typically spend between $3,000 to $10,000 or more.

It’s worth noting that these costs are only estimates and are subject to change depending on the supplier at the time of purchase. While stock cabinets come pre-made and ready to install, it’s important to remember that installation costs are not included in the purchase price. Unless you have significant experience with DIY projects, it’s best to hire a professional to install your cabinets.

Make sure to factor in installation costs when creating your cabinet budget to ensure a successful and stress-free installation process.

What is Custom Cabinetry? 

Custom cabinetry is the perfect solution for those seeking personalized, made-to-order cabinetry that meets their unique needs and style preferences. Working alongside a professional designer, you can carefully tailor your kitchen design to align with your lifestyle, ensuring maximum functionality and aesthetic appeal.

When it comes to custom cabinetry, the sky’s the limit. You’ll begin with a blank slate, allowing you to customize everything from the materials to the size, construction, color, and finish. Custom cabinetry allows you to seamlessly incorporate unusually shaped corners and tall ceilings into your design without sacrificing style or functionality.

One of the most significant benefits of custom cabinetry is the ability to choose from a vast array of materials, including sought-after options like genuine wood (such as maple, oak, cherry, and alder) or engineered materials like thermofoil or acrylic. The quality of your custom cabinets is ultimately up to you, and you can opt for anything from a worn and distressed finish to double-stacking your cabinets for added storage space.

Cost & Installation of Custom Cabinetry

It’s no secret that custom cabinets are a luxurious addition to any home. The freedom to personalize your cabinetry comes at a cost, but it’s worth it if you want to create a truly unique and tailored space.

Custom cabinet prices can be tricky to estimate because they’re based on your individual selections. For example, cabinets with melamine interiors will be less expensive than those made from authentic wood. This simple choice can add or subtract hundreds or even thousands of dollars from your final bill.

Custom cabinets cost between $500 and $1,200 per linear foot installed. For an average-sized kitchen, custom cabinet prices range from $15,000 to $30,000, making it a wide range. However, the flexibility to determine your budget is an advantage of custom cabinetry.

When it comes to custom renovation projects, all kitchens are unique. That’s why custom cabinetry is an excellent option to create a space that truly reflects your style and needs.

One of the benefits of purchasing custom cabinetry is that manufacturers usually partner with professional installation teams. In contrast, if you buy stock cabinets off the shelf, it’s up to you to hire someone to install each unit. Custom cabinet manufacturers usually offer a more inclusive service with designers and installers on hand.

The cost of installation varies depending on the cabinet maker. At George, we include installation fees in our quotes, so customers don’t have to worry about extra budgeting. It’s always a good idea to ask your prospective cabinet providers about their installation process in advance.

Overall, investing in custom cabinets is a wise decision if you want to create a beautiful and functional space unique to your style and needs.

What is Semi-Custom Cabinetry?

Semi-custom cabinetry is a unique product that falls between stock and custom cabinetry. It offers more design flexibility than stock cabinets but fewer options than custom cabinetry. In essence, semi-custom cabinets have pre-defined standard sizes. Still, they can be altered to a certain extent to fit your specific needs.

However, the extent of design flexibility for semi-custom cabinetry varies among manufacturers, making it challenging to know precisely what modifications can be made. For instance, one manufacturer may allow cabinet depth and width changes by 1-inch increments, but not cabinet height. In contrast, another may only allow modifications in depth by 3-inch increments. The number of door styles and finishes also varies, making the design freedom to customize your kitchen depending on your chosen manufacturer.

Suppose you’re after a highly personalized kitchen and choose a manufacturer with a more extensive range of door styles, finishes, and outstanding modification allowances. In that case, your semi-custom line would be closer to fully custom cabinetry on a line graph. However, you may opt for a manufacturer with fewer modification allowances and a limited range of door styles and finishes. In that case, your semi-custom line will fall closer to the stock cabinet side on the graph.

The manufacturing process determines the quality of semi-custom cabinets, so you must choose a manufacturer that can deliver on quality. Therefore, it’s essential to research and ask questions about a manufacturer’s manufacturing process and capabilities when selecting semi-custom cabinetry.

Cost & Installation of Semi-Custom Cabinetry

Semi-custom cabinetry is ideal for homeowners who want a balance between stock and custom options. However, it’s important to note that there is a tipping point where semi-custom costs can exceed custom costs. Suppose you have a lengthy list of modifications you want to make. In that case, obtaining a quote from a custom manufacturer is worth comparing pricing.

Semi-custom cabinets are designed for homeowners with specific needs, such as those who require deeper cabinet depths for larger serving trays. Semi-custom cabinets offer excellent value for cases with only one or two simple upgrades.

But beware, if you start to get too innovative and deviate too far from standard specifications, the cost of semi-custom cabinetry can surpass even custom cabinetry. Sometimes, making significant modifications to semi-custom cabinets can be more expensive than making the same number of changes to custom cabinets.

Like custom cabinetry, semi-custom cabinets are made-to-order, so the lead time is typically equivalent to or slightly less than that of custom cabinets. Additionally, your manufacturer will likely offer an installation option, which may be included in the initial quote or provided separately.

In conclusion, when considering semi-custom cabinetry, it’s essential to weigh the benefits and costs carefully. If you have a few specific needs, semi-custom cabinets offer excellent value. Still, custom cabinetry may be more cost-effective if you require numerous modifications. Always ask your manufacturer for a quote and explore all options before deciding.


Choosing the perfect kitchen cabinetry is no joke and one of the most important decisions you’ll make during your kitchen renovation project. Don’t rush this decision! Take a deep breath, weigh your options between stock, custom, and semi-custom cabinetry, and think carefully about what will suit your needs best.

Stock cabinets are great if you’re working with a tight budget or need them immediately. In contrast, custom cabinets offer you the ultimate flexibility in design, with the bonus of a professional designer and installer, not to mention superior quality. Semi-custom is your middle ground, combining the affordability of stock cabinets with some customization perks of custom cabinets.

So, grab a pen and paper and jot down a pros and cons list for each option, with the information provided in this article as your guide. And remember, this is your dream kitchen we’re talking about, so take the time to make the right choice for you!

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