Cabinetry Grading – What You Need To Know
My mind has been on cabinetry lately – you may have noticed. I’ve been exploring my options for a double vanity and additional storage as we plan our master bath remodel. And as I search, I am reminded how much cabinet-specific vocab there is out there. So, this is the second in a series of posts to break it all down for you (check out my other post on cabinet construction types here).
If you are out looking for cabinets for a bath or kitchen remodel (or any room in your house, really) and you visit your local cabinet showroom or big box store, you will come across a number of different brands and quality levels of cabinetry.
What you need to know is that there are three general cabinet grades:
These are the cabinets you will find at the big box stores that you can buy off the shelf and put together yourself. Stock cabinets are also sold through kitchen design showrooms – particularly (but not exclusively) ones affiliated with lumberyards. Stock cabinets are sometimes referred to as builder-grade cabinets because they are often the choice of builders when they are trying to keep construction costs down – typically for rental units or lower priced homes.
Stock cabinets are mass produced in standard sizes and limited styles and finishes. Cabinet widths start at 9” and increase in 3” increments up to 48”. Cabinet depths are standardized at 12” for wall cabinets and 24” for bases, oven and utility cabinets. Stock cabinets also offer fewer accessories or specialized cabinet types (think: spice drawers, appliance garages, etc.).
Materials for stock cabinets will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but range from laminated particleboard to solid wood. Cabinet construction will also vary, with some manufacturers doing a better job than others. In general, one can say the materials and construction of stock cabinets make them an entry level option.
Pros: readily available, economical
Cons: limited flexibility, fewer style choices. lesser quality
Examples: Aristokraft, Homecrest, Ikea, Merillat, Wolf Classic
Bottom line: If your budget calls for stock cabinetry, it definitely pays to research your options at this price point because there are differences in quality and look.
Semi-custom cabinets are a mid-range option that offer some of the benefits of mass production with some of the benefits of custom. Kind of a best of both worlds approach.Semi-custom cabinet lines come in 1” increments for added flexibility (starting at the same 9” and ending at 48”). Depths can vary depending on the manufacturer. They also offer more door styles, accessories and finish options. In general, semi-custom cabinets are constructed from higher quality materials than stock cabinets.
Pros: lots of door and finish options, fairly customizable from a size standpoint, made from higher quality materials than stock with better construction practices
Cons: because they are mass-produced, you will have limitations to the design you can achieve
Examples:, Decora, Debut, Dynasty, Greenfield, Merillat Masterpiece, Schrock, WOLF Designer Cabinets
Bottom line: semi-custom is a popular choice for kitchens today because of the designs that can be achieved at an affordable price. If you can afford more than stock cabinetry, it makes sense to opt for higher quality materials (kitchens typically get a ton of daily use) and the ability to get the look you’re dreaming of.
Custom cabinets are just that, custom. They are made to order to fit your space perfectly, so are a good choice if you are trying to maximize functionality in a unique space.Custom cabinets are furniture grade works of skill and craftsmanship and use the best materials. They can be built from any number of exotic species of wood and finished to match anything in your home. Because each cabinet is hand-made to your order, lead times can run up to three months or more. Custom cabinets are made by both national custom cabinet manufacturers and by local cabinetmakers and woodworkers.
Bottom line: if money is no object and you don’t mind spending it, custom cabinetry can give you the exact configuration and look that you want.
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