Custom Cabinets: Questions You Need to Answer Before You Remodel


In determining the feel, functionality, and look of your kitchen, cabinets play a major role. You have likely had kitchen storage on your mind if you are thinking about remodeling your kitchen. Since cabinets are the biggest expenditure in a remodeling project, it is important to figure out what you want before you commit to buying anything. Kitchen Solvers has put together this list of questions to help you understand your options and pick what best suits your needs.

Do You Want the Best that Money Can Buy or Good Enough?

One could compare buying cabinets to purchasing a watch: a Rolex does the same job as an economy timepiece when it comes down to it. There is a huge world of great choices in other words. Start by envisioning what you want your cabinets to look like, how much of your budget you are willing to spend on storage, and the jobs you want your cabinets to perform on a day to day basis.

At their most basic, all cabinets begin as boxes kitted out with fronts and drawers or shelves, whether they are readymade or custom cabinets. All of the differences are accounted for in the design details, materials, level of customization, hardware, and craftsmanship.

What Are the Basic Types of Cabinets?

Stock, semi-custom, and custom are the three main types of cabinets. Custom cabinets are built entirely to your specifications, while semi-custom and stock cabinets are pre-fabricated. Below, we will outline the characteristics and pros and cons of each type of cabinet:

    • Stock Cabinets – Stock cabinets are between $75 and $400 per linear foot on average. They would be considered the Casio watch of the cabinet world: economical and they get the job done. By online suppliers and at home centers, these are sold off the shelf in standardized sizes. They are all premade and much of the time prefinished. Some come flat packed and need to be assembled, but most are already assembled and just need to be installed by a professional. In three inch increments, premade cabinets range in size from 12 to 36 inches wide. To cover up gaps, they make use of infill panels. 36 inches tall is the industry standard for counter heights.
    • Semi-Custom Cabinets – With many more options than stock cabinets in terms of materials, sizing, finishes, and styles, semi-custom cabinets are pre-fabricated offsite in standardized sizes after being selected from existing designs. These typically cost $150 to $900 per linear foot on average. From in house kitchen installation and design, crucial assistance is usually provided by companies that offer customizable designs. There is typically a long lead time with semi-custom cabinets, since fabrication generally does not begin until drawings are approved and plans are finalized. It can take as long as twelve to fourteen weeks from approval of shop drawings to delivery.
  • Custom Cabinets – Working with a local cabinet fabricator has many advantages. It is much like having a suit that is specifically tailored to your measurements. For instance, to work with your room dimensions, you can spec odd sized cabinets. On average, you should budget about $500 to $1400 per linear foot on average for finished results. With lead times that average between six and eight weeks, the wait to get your custom cabinets are considerably less than semi-custom. Plus, the cost need not be prohibitive. It all depends on the finishes, hardware, and materials you want. Also, along the way, you can make minor adjustments and check the progress of your cabinets.

How Do You Budget for Cabinets?

It is crucial that you scope your project wisely, since cabinets cost anywhere from $75 to $1400 per linear foot on average. Both below and above the counter, measure how many linear feet of custom cabinets you need to determine your guideline budget. With a tape measure, you can do this to scale if you are remodeling an existing kitchen.

You will likely want to ask a kitchen designer or architect for help or possibly use a scale ruler yourself if you are working on a whole new design. You will quickly figure out your budget by multiplying the cost you were quoted per linear foot by the number of linear feet.

Do You Want Custom Cabinets?

For kitchens with precise requirements – for instance, counter heights that differ from the standard or a room with an irregular floor plan – custom cabinets are a perfect solution. A lot of times, you can find custom cabinets at prices that rival or even beat semi-custom cabinets. Plus, these are specifically tailored to your kitchen and are often ready a lot sooner.

Custom cabinets are ideal if you want your kitchen to be one of a kind. You can also typically get maximum functionality by adding finer details when you have your cabinets custom made.

Do You Want Open Shelves or Built-in Cabinets?

It is no longer the gold standard to have kitchens with cabinets that run from wall to wall now that multi-functional rooms and open plan living are becoming more popular. Many people are choosing to have the surrounding décor dictate the design for their kitchen. However, if you have a lot to pack into a small kitchen or want efficient storage in any size kitchen, do not fall into the tempting trap of foregoing fitted cabinets altogether.

You should work on finding a balance that fits your needs rather than doing away with all cabinets. One common compromise is using open shelving above counters and fitted cabinets below. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that, unlike when you tuck items behind closed doors, whatever is on open shelves is on display for anyone to see.

Now that you have an idea of what you want, you can pick a remodeling company to help you with your project. Kitchen Solvers has the expertise to work with any budget to produce cabinetry that will transform any kitchen into the kitchen of your dreams.

For additional information on buying the perfect custom cabinets for your kitchen remodel, check out our article Best Kitchen Cabinets: 9 Tips for Value and Quality. And be sure to also research Kitchen Remodeling Costs: Get a Return on your Investment if you do plan remodel with custom cabinets.