Custom Kitchen Cabinets Vs. Stock Cabinets

Thinking of getting new cabinets? If you're like most people, one of the first things to consider is what kind? Before deciding on where to source from, you must first decide whether you want to just go to Ikea and get some stock cabinets, of if you want to invest in semi-custom or custom cabinets.

There are pros and cons to both, and it really depends on what you value to see which is a better fit for you and your home, and how long you are planning to be in the space.


Advantages to Stock Cabinets

  • Low Budget: More cost effective as they are mass produced.
  • Ready-Made: Quicker lead time. As long as the right color and size of stock cabinet you are looking for is in stock, you can go pick it up and be ready to start building it whenever you are ready.


Disadvantages to Stock Cabinets

  • Project Timeline is the Same: Stock cabinets seem like they would have a faster turnaround. But people forget that even if you go with stock cabinets, the planning and installation process of every other aspect of your kitchen other than the cabinetry still takes the same amount of time – not to mention that you will likely have to assemble the cabinets yourself.
  • Some/A lot of Assembly Required: Unless you are buying an in stock, fully assembled cabinet, you will be responsible for putting together your new stock cabinetry. Ikea and other big box store’s cabinets tend to come in multiple boxes, completely unassembled, with lengthy instructions on “how to” assemble. Not only will you have to assemble your new cabinet, but you will have a ton of packaging to deal with.
  • Lower Monetary Cost, Higher Time/Labor Cost: This goes hand in hand with assembly. Since stock cabinets require you to put them together yourself, you may be paying a bit less for a stock cabinet than you would for a semi-custom or custom cabinet in monetary terms, but you would be paying more with your own time, blood, sweat, and tears.
  • Modular/Generic: As stock cabinets are modular by nature, there is little to no customization available to customers. Style and color selections are always limited. Adjustments are not an option, colors are not tailored to your home, and the cabinets are generic in nature. You might not get exactly what you wanted.
  • Design Limitations: You might not get to take full advantage of your space. Custom cabinet designers can design things for your little nooks and crannies that would make use of previously dead space.
  • Mass Production Leads to Lack of Quality: Mass produced products are manufactured from lower quality materials and manufactured on a large scale with heavy machinery. The high volume/high output process often overlooks attention-to-detail, resulting in higher defect rates. These products are also often produced in different countries, as outsourcing usually nets big companies higher profit margins. This leads to a lower quality product that is prone to life span and durability issues.

Stock White Kitchen Cabinets | Kitchen Art Design

Advantages to Custom Cabinets

  • Everything is Customizable: Sizes, shapes, colours, materials, finishes, features, functions – these are all highly customizable to fit your personality, needs, lifestyle, and budget.
  • High Quality: Simply put, a custom cabinet designer will never recommend any materials that are of low quality. This is more than just their job; it is their livelihood. Everything a designer recommends is something they feel comfortable putting their stamp of approval on. They are always going to design a kitchen that fits your budget and lifestyle. If anything doesn’t work how it is supposed to, it’s on them.
  • Locally Manufactured: Custom cabinets are always built to order. At Kitchen Art Design, cabinets are required to be produced and manufactured locally as the designers work hands-on with the engineering and production teams.
  • Personalized Designer Advice/Consultation: For designers, cabinetry is an art. When working with a designer, they are there with you every step of the way to make sure the final product is exactly how you dreamed it to be. Designers bring your ideas to life with insight that they’ve acquired from years, sometimes decades of experience. They know what works and what doesn’t, and why.
  • Higher ROI: If you take life span into account, you may be paying a bit more at the time, but your return on investment will be much higher with semi-custom or custom cabinets. Most custom cabinets include a strong limited lifetime warranty, with the idea that you will not have to replace your new cabinets for the foreseeable future.
  • No Assembly Required: Citation’s semi-custom/custom cabinets are delivered to your door already assembled, and installation is taken care of by our professional installation team. This means none of your valuable free time spent trying to follow frustrating instructions, no extra (or missing) parts, and no packaging to get rid of.


Disadvantages to Custom Cabinets

  • Longer Lead Time: Because they are made-to-order, semi-custom or custom cabinets usually take about 6-8 weeks to manufacture.
  • Higher Budget: Ordering any customized product will be a bit more expensive than getting a generic mass-produced version, and cabinets are no different.

Custom Cabinets for Kitchen | Kitchen Art Design

In most cases, the value points towards custom cabinetry. Being able to combine a professional designer’s ingenuity with your vision, needs, and lifestyle is the obvious choice. The time or budget constraints could push you towards stock cabinets, but it is important to keep in mind that your ROI on those stock cabinets might not be great in the long run.  It is also important to remember the hidden time cost of assembling a stock cabinet. At the end of the day, it is your decision to make, but our *extremely unbiased* opinion favours custom cabinetry.


Interested in meeting with one of the Kitchen Art Design’ professional designers? Book an appointment today!