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5 Things you need to know - Semi-Custom vs. Custom Cabinets & Brands to Consider

Today I'd like to to talk about the stigma behind the word 'custom' and what the differences are between semi-custom and truly full custom.

For some reason the word 'CUSTOM' is a like a 4 letter curse word. It scares people to even Think about something so fancy, so high end and sooooo (probably) expensive like a 'custom' kitchen or bathroom. Well, let's first talk about the differences....

Custom wood worker

What is Semi-Custom? Many cabinet suppliers advertise semi-custom cabinetry as a way to essentially trick people into thinking they are getting a custom cabinet at a lower price. After all, it is only 'semi' custom, right?

Typically, semi-custom cabinet manufacturers do not produce their own doors; they outsource them. Therefore, they have no ability to custom size the door widths or heights. Rather than point this out to you, the consumer, they've twisted the marketing terminology to 'semi-custom' because they do have the ability to customize the depth of the cabinets since they produce their own boxes. Thus, producing a cabinet that is semi-customizable. Of course, if you want to add in a feature like a decor door panel on the end of your semi-custom special depth cabinets, that won't be an option.

StarMark Cabinetry Gallant Door Style

Semi-Custom or Custom?

Now, keeping on the same narrow focus being width, height, depth and door differences, let's talk custom. A true custom cabinet manufacturer produces their own cabinet doors in house, therefore having the ability to make any width or height desired. A true custom cabinet manufacture also has the ability to offer custom finishes and much more, but that's a topic for another day.

The main points I'd like to make here are:

1) Just because a manufacture offers 'custom' cabinets, does not mean you have to order anything customized. In fact, custom cabinet manufacturers typically have a much larger standard sized product offering than semi-custom manufactures therefore eliminating the need to actually customize anything.

2) Now is it going to cost more if you start special sizing every single cabinet in your kitchen? Yes, of course. However, ordering from a 'custom' manufacture, but only customizing a few cabinets where needed can actually save you money.

For example, custom manufacturers will make your oven cabinet specifically to fit your oven - No cutting, trimming, filling, scribing or touch-up on site needed. These are all typical of a semi-custom appliance cabinet installation. Not only does it cost more money to install because of all the extra time spent, but it also opens the window of opportunity for your installer to make a mistake. Not worth the hassle!

3) Get those precious inches back where it counts! Don't just 'fill' the space using spacers and fillers along with basic cabinet sizes. You're loosing valuable storage space by doing so and won't end up with a clean look. It is true that occasionally fillers are needed to allow for proper clearances, but often times, they can be avoided.

4) Custom does not mean built in place on site. It can mean factory built-to-order and then installed on site, which is the case with most branded custom cabinetry.

5) Lead times with custom cabinetry isn't any longer than semi-custom. In either case they are built to order and nothing is an off-the-shelf item. If you order every piece custom, it may add to the lead time slightly, but most manufactures can add a handful of custom pieces to any order without extending their lead time at all.

Off the top of my head, here are a few brands that fall in to each category.

Brands who call themselves 'Semi-Custom'

6 Square Cabinets

Cliq Studios

Norcraft Cabinetry

MidContinent Cabinetry

Kraft-Maid Cabinets

Merillat Cabinets

Aristocraft Cabinets

Schrock Cabinets

Diamond Cabinets

Homecrest Cabinetry

True Custom Brands I recommend

Elmwood Cabinetry

DeWills Cabinetry

Now that you know a little bit more about semi-custom cabinetry vs. custom cabinetry, which will you choose for your new kitchen or bathroom? I think the choice is clear, which is why at we only offer high quality {customizable} cabinetry.

Add that piece of mind to the fact that since we are internet based we have the best pricing possible, a highly qualified design staff that will personalize your project for no charge and over 2 million standard (not custom) door styles and finishes to choose from - it's a no brainer!

Let us show you what we can do!

-Krysta Starz-

Owner & Lead Designer


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