Why Custom Cabinets Are Better Than Stock Cabinets
Cabinets are a large part of your home’s look and feel. They can also be expensive to build yourself, especially if you are inexperienced at woodworking.
Stock cabinets at Dallas Contractor are a great option for those on a tight budget or needing faster availability. Custom cabinets, on the other hand, are more customizable and offer better quality.
Cabinetry is a craft, and it takes a skilled professional to build it. Unlike the mass-produced cabinets found in big box stores, custom cabinet makers take pride in their work and use tried-and-true construction methods that create durable products that are more visually appealing than the low-grade particleboard or melamine used in stock and semi-custom cabinets.
The craftsmanship that goes into a cabinet also makes it easier to clean, which can extend its lifespan and prevent the need for costly repairs or replacement. This is important to consider when comparing the costs of custom cabinets against those of semi-custom and stock cabinetry.
In order to judge the quality of a custom cabinet maker, you should ask them direct questions about their product and their process. Quality professionals will welcome these inquiries and remain unfazed by the questioner’s inquisitiveness. Inquiries about the type of materials they use, the level of customization available for their clients, and how they go above and beyond standard requirements are all good indicators of the cabinetry you’ll receive.
For example, you may be able to get custom cabinetry from local shops that offer a wide variety of options and features, such as appliance garages, specialized storage for tall items, or even built-in coffee stations. While these cabinets are generally less expensive than custom cabinets, they will still require a longer lead time than custom cabinetry.
Moreover, these locally-built custom cabinets aren’t as high-quality as cabinetry that is produced in a larger factory setting. Cabinetry that is produced on a large scale has the potential for error that can make a big difference in the overall appearance and durability of a cabinet, especially over time when exposed to everyday wear and tear.
On the other hand, factory-produced cabinetry uses standard hardware and finishes that will likely need to be replaced more often. The hinges, drawer tracks, and other hardware components are usually identical in all of the manufacturer’s product lines, resulting in a lower-quality finish than would be expected from smaller cabinetry shops that produce high-end cabinetry.
Custom cabinetry is designed and built specifically to fit into a specific situation or space for an individual customer in their home or office. The word “custom” means that a cabinetmaker has the ability to design and build cabinets to meet the exact needs of the customer, allowing for the most flexibility in terms of materials, color, style, and functionality. Custom cabinets are generally considered to be the highest quality of cabinetry available.
Unlike stock cabinets, custom cabinetry is crafted in the customer’s choice of wood and stain or paint. They can also choose from a wide variety of hardware, handles, hinges, and other accessories to create an entirely unique look for their home or business. This level of customization is what sets custom cabinets apart from other cabinet options and is the main reason why they tend to be more expensive than their stock counterparts.
Another benefit of custom cabinets is their flexibility in storage features. If the homeowner is looking for a custom larder to house a large number of baking pans, for example, the cabinetmaker will design a custom solution that includes an abundance of storage and easy access. The same is true for oddly shaped spaces or tall ceilings that might be difficult to work around using stock cabinetry.
If you are looking for more customization in your cabinetry but aren’t ready to spend the extra money on custom cabinets, semi-custom cabinetry is an option. These cabinets are able to provide a wider range of choices than their stock counterparts, but still only within the confines of a pre-set catalog. This can include things like a larger selection of door styles, increased depth or width in cabinets, and matching interiors.
If you are a cabinetmaker and are considering making the transition to offering custom cabinetry, I recommend that you purchase a copy of the AWI’s “Quality Standards” manual and refer to it frequently. This is an excellent resource that describes how a cabinetmaker should build each cabinet type (premium, custom, or economy) to ensure that the customer gets exactly what they want.
Cabinets endure some of the most constant wear and tear in your kitchen, so it’s important that they are sturdy. While cabinets made from low-quality materials will eventually break down, those built with better components and construction techniques will last much longer. This is why it’s crucial to consider your cabinet options before you start your renovation.
Stock cabinets are pre-built units with a limited selection of sizes and styles, making them a less durable option. They are typically constructed from particle board or MDF, which are vulnerable to excess moisture and have shorter lifespans than furniture-grade plywood and solid wood.
A quality custom cabinet maker uses dovetail joints, hot and cold glue, and power fasteners for the strongest joinery possible. This ensures that the wood pieces bond on a microscopic level, making them stronger and more resistant to warping or splitting. A custom manufacturer will also carefully inspect each piece of wood to ensure it’s properly prepared and fit before assembly. These techniques are what set a custom manufacturer apart from a mass-produced cabinet line.
The type of finish on your cabinets will also impact their durability. For example, lacquer can last up to 20 years without chips and is easy to clean with a wipe-down. This is a good choice for families with kids because it doesn’t show fingerprints and smudges like glossy surfaces. On the other hand, melamine can scratch and discolor easily, so it’s not recommended for busy households.
Solid wood cabinets are the most durable choice for your kitchen, but they can be expensive. To lower the cost, you can choose to stain instead of paint your cabinets. A high-quality stain will create a seal on your cabinet and last for a long time, but it will require regular maintenance to keep its sheen.
The other options for durable cabinets are melamine and HPL, which are both easy to clean with common household cleaners. Unlike melamine, which scratches and can chip, HPL is stronger because it’s manufactured in multiple layers under extreme heat and pressure. It’s also more resistant to impact and comes in a wider range of colors than melamine.
Ease of Cleaning
The finish you select for your cabinets will have a major impact on how easy or hard it is to clean. Paint finishes are easier to wipe down and can usually be restored with a mild soap and water solution, while stained cabinetry requires more care as left-over liquids can cause stains or discoloration over time. Stained cabinets also need to be wiped down frequently to prevent a buildup of grease.
Taking a proactive approach to cleaning will make the task much easier. Begin by emptying your cabinets and putting everything on the table or another work surface for easy access. Use a lint-free cloth or sponge to wipe down the shelves and cabinet doors, starting with the back wall and sides and then working your way to the front of the cabinets and drawers. Pay special attention to the corners, spritzing cleaning solution on a toothbrush and gently scrubbing if necessary. A mild abrasive paste of baking soda and water can also be used on grease stains, but always test the product on an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn’t damage your cabinet finish.
Avoid sprinkling baking soda or vinegar directly on the cabinets, as it may leave an unpleasant film that is difficult to wipe off. A light mist of water or vinegar is more effective on sticky residue. If the problem is particularly stubborn, you can mix a weak solution of water and vinegar with a few drops of dishwashing detergent to break down the grease and food residue. This mixture is also great for cleaning fingerprints off metal door hardware.
Some DIYers suggest using olive oil as a cabinet cleaner. However, it’s important to note that olive oil does not replenish wood, and overuse can actually cause it to become duller. Additionally, it leaves behind a film that will attract dust and dirt.
While you’re at it, consider changing the handles on your cabinets for ones that are easier to clean. Oversized handles are a magnet for greasy fingers, and knobs that feature ornate grooves can collect grime in the cracks. Instead, opt for handles that have a smooth, flat surface and a slim profile to reduce the amount of grease that can cling to them.