If you are trying to decide between stock cabinets and custom cabinets for your new kitchen weighing the differences can be confusing.

The Benefits of Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets can save you time if you are meeting a deadline. Since the cabinets are already built it is only a matter of getting the cabinets from the warehouse to your project. Find out lead times as they can range from a few days to a few weeks depending on how far the warehouse is from your location.

Stock cabinets can save you money because the cabinets are built assembly-line style to keep costs down. This doesn’t always mean lower quality, but will typically mean fewer options in sizes and styles in comparison to custom cabinets. It pays to know what to look for.

While buying stock cabinets can save you time and money, you need to know what to look for before you make a buying decision.

What to Look for in Stock Cabinets

  • Fullback panel-not nailing strips and a thin skin.
  • Cabinet boxes should be dadoed and glued together. Staples, nails, and gussets are also commonly used in quality cabinets.
  • Solid wood dovetail drawer boxes. No nails or staples here.
  • Quality hardware-full-extension drawer glides and soft closing hardware are standard with most quality cabinet companies.
  • Durable finish – The finish should be consistent and consist of multiple layers. Conversion varnishes and baked on coatings are typical quality finishes. Make sure the cabinet company you choose has a written warranty.

The Cons of Stock Cabinets

  • Stock cabinets are limited when it comes to colors and styles.
  • Stock cabinets are limited in size both width and height. This may not be a problem depending on your layout and your design goals.
  • Filler strips must be used to take up the leftover space that comes in pre-determined sizes. This leaves the potential to lose precious storage space that could be utilized with a custom cabinet line.
  • Built-in appliances such as microwaves and ovens are hard to accommodate if at all. Some lines offer a cabinet that is oversized allowing the installer to cut an opening in the face and add the necessary support to fit the appliance into the cabinet.
  • Furniture end panels or cabinet ends that match the doors are not common in stock cabinet lines among other details and features.  
  • Warranties are usually limited to product failure and do not include wear and tear. This is important when it comes to the cabinet finish.

Cost -Stock Cabinets vs Other Options

Plan to budget $6,000-$9,000 for quality stock cabinets for the average kitchen. A semi-custom cabinet for the same project might run $8,000 to $12,000 depending on the options chosen. A custom cabinet will cost more than most semi-custom lines and can as you might imagine, the sky’s the limit.

There are some lower cost options in the RTA (ready to assemble) cabinet lines if you are willing to assemble them yourself and you are willing to sacrifice quality for the price. You can hire your installer to assemble RTA cabinets for you but the cost can offset the savings.

If you are not sure if stock cabinets are right for your project, consulting with a designer can help. A good designer can show you what is possible within the limitations of stock cabinets and also show you the benefits of a custom line.