Is it better and cheaper to purchase big box store or custom kitchen cabinets?

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Kitchen cabinets normally represent a big chunk of most kitchen renovations.With the endless choices, the selection process can be complicated and time consuming. Most homeowners are surprised by the time and energy investment that may be required. This initial time and energy investment can go a long way towards the end results of a spectacular kitchen showpiece at an affordable price!As a general rule of thumb,kitchen cabinets are usually priced per linear feet for standard size wall and base cabinets.The price usually varies for the different door styles and non-standard cabinet sizes.

Here are the most common mistakes made by most homeowners in selecting kitchen cabinets:

1.      They select stock kitchen cabinets based solely on the initial purchase price excluding assembly and installation cost.

2.     They think there are only two options:big box (stock) and custom kitchen cabinets.

3.     They assume that custom cabinets are always expensive and out of reach.

We’ll be addressing these three common concerns with solutions and Insider Home Designer Tips. Stay tune and read to the end……


Stock Kitchen Cabinetry-The most popular store for stock cabinets is Ikea. They usually mass produce cabinets based on set finishes, colors and sizes.


Stock kitchen cabinet


  • 1.      If you need your kitchen installed quickly, you can usually visit a location to select, order and have the items picked up or delivered to your home in 5 – 10 days.
  • 2.     The cost can be inexpensive.
  • 3.     If your home or condo’s resale value is in a lower price range, it’s probably wise to select a basic cabinet. This could help to keep your cost down and maximize your return on investment. Consult with a local Realtor and Home Appraiser before making a decision. The advice from your local experts could save you thousands if you decide to sell in the near future.


  • 1.      The available options are limited.
  • 2.     The cabinets are not assembled and are in boxes, so you will need to get them assembled and installed on your own.
  • 3.     It may appear that you’ve saved money on the purchase price, but watch out for assembly and installation cost. Before making a purchase decision, get estimates for the assembly and installation.
  • 4.     The cabinets may not fit in your wall space perfectly, so watch out for corners and awkward spaces.
  • 5.     Particle board and MDF are two common materials used for stock cabinets. They are susceptible to water and have a shorter life span than plywood and wood.

Semi-Custom Kitchen CabinetryThe most popular stores for semi-custom kitchen cabinets are Lowes and Home Depot.

Semi-custom kitchen cabinet


  • 1.     Hundreds of available options for your selection with varying prices.
  • 2.     Your order is manufactured and assembled for you, all you have to do is install.
  • 3.     They could fill in your wall space with the use of fillers.
  • 4.     Semi-custom kitchen cabinets might work best for you if your renovation timeline is within a month, as delivery could be within two or three weeks.


1.      With all the available options, the cost can be a little less or more than custom cabinets.

2.     Be sure to verify the delivered time frame with your store as some locations have long delivery wait periods.

3.     Verify the re-delivery and return process if order is incorrect.

Custom Kitchen Cabinetryare designed based on your specific kitchen requirements. The making process could be seen as a form of art for most artisans.You have the options of selecting: the layout, cabinet size variations, color, materials, finishes and decorative features.

Custom kitchen cabinet


  • 1.      The available options are endless. You can create almost anything. It’s easy to incorporate:pots drawers, oversized cupboards and pull-out pantries.
  • 2.     Customized to fit you space perfectly and are delivered and installed for you.
  • 3.     They usually have extended warranty and live after sales support to answer your questions.
  • 4.     Custom cabinets typically use sturdier construction and joinery methods. They often use dovetail joints that interlock pieces of wood to distribute weight and stress evenly. Stock cabinets may not distribute weight and stress evenly because they: bolt, nut, and nail.
  • 5.     Refinishing is possible with real wood cabinets.



  • 1.      Depending on the style, finishes and features that you’ve selected, it can get very expensive. The good news is, you have control on what you order or don’t order.
  • 2.     Custom cabinets have long lead times and could take on average 6-8 weeks.

Insider Home Designer Tip:

If You’re On A Limited Budget, Why Not Combine?

Kitchen cabinets are essentially boxes that have shelves, drawers or doors.Combining a semi-custom kitchen cabinet with custom pieces could lower your cost while integrating uniqueness. There are companies that make doors and drawer faces for stock cabinets,so youdon’t have to necessarily limit yourself to the stock kitchen cabinet doors and drawer faces.

If you don’t know where to begin,hire a kitchen design expert.They know all the ins and outs of the different products and usually have access to insider binders with several available price ranges and options.Designing kitchen cabinets can be lots of fun, hiring a kitchen designer could save you time and even some will pass along their insider pricing to help you create a kitchen that beautifully reflects your lifestyle.

Hope this blog helps!

~ Best of luck always ~




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Comments (5)

Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is excellent advice to share with consumers.

May 18, 2016 09:51 AM
Allie Angeloni
Long Realty - Oro Valley, AZ

Excellent Blog on kitchen cabinets, and the different options What Not To Renovate - Milan B.  Stating the 'Pros & Con's of each is a huge factor to consider, both time-wise and price-wise, and there's always the opportunity to combine custom and semi-custom cabinets.  Kitchens that have been updated and/or remodeled can really give the most 'bang for the buck' in home sales, because so many couples and families love to spend time in their kitchen!

May 18, 2016 03:21 PM
Digital Digital
Alachua, FL
full service

Roy Kelley : Thanks for visiting our blog and commenting.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

May 22, 2016 10:54 AM
Digital Digital
Alachua, FL
full service

Allie Angeloni : We're glad you found this blog useful. It's a topic that most homeowners experience great difficulty. We hope this blog can be used as a start point for homeowners to seek advice based on their personal situation. 

May 22, 2016 10:57 AM
Allie Angeloni

Great way to explain a huge topic What Not To Renovate - Milan B. that gets everyone's attention when house hunting:  the kitchen.  It's always wonderful to have Options!

May 22, 2016 11:19 AM