Types of Cabinets and Cabinet Style

The kitchen is widely recognized as being one of the most important rooms in any home. Not only is your kitchen the center of activity when entertaining guests, but it is also the heart of everyday life for a family. Meals are created, stories are shared, and family ties are bonded all around the kitchen space. Not only that, but any real estate agent would agree that a lot of the home’s financial value is dependent on the kitchen. Some of the most important decisions you make when remodeling your kitchen revolves around cabinetry. The type of wood, door and drawer style, finishes, and accessories is a topic of discussion with our clients. We also discuss differences between custom cabinets and manufactured or box cabinets. Many people have a perception that custom cabinets are better, but are they really?

Semi-custom vs. Custom Cabinets

To understand the difference, you have to understand what each type is:

Custom Cabinet:

As the name implies, custom cabinets are made specifically to order for a project. There isn’t a catalog of standard sizes and details.

Box or Manufactured Cabinet:

These cabinets are made in standard sizes different color an stain options. They are ordered from a catalog As you might expect, these are produced in a factory setting.


Semi-Custom Cabinet:

There is actually a third choice that many people are not aware of called semi-custom cabinets. These are cabinets that are made in a factory, and the manufacturer allows for modification of the standard catalog sizes, drawing of custom features, and even creating unique stains and finishes. There is usually a set of color and stains chose from. Custom color matching isn’t an option.

So, there aren’t just two choices. There is a spectrum of choices related to customization. Once we decide on the type of cabinets, there are other considerations:

Quality of the product: It is important to stress that custom cabinets are not necessarily higher quality, nor are manufactured cabinets. Both types come in a wide range of quality. We have seen manufactured cabinets with really thin particleboard boxes that have literally slid down the wall.

Cabinet Finish: How do cabinets from a local shop compare to a manufactured brand? The biggest difference between manufactured cabinets, and those built in a shop is the use of a heat cured catalyzed varnish. This requires a controlled factory setting. These durable top coats over the stain or enamel can help protect the cabinets from the wear and tear of busy families.

Price: In general, customization adds to the cost of cabinets. However, it is only one variable that impacts cost. Others are the wood species for the doors, the type of finish, the quality of the cabinet box, the construction of the cabinet package.

Cabinet Style:

Inset cabinetry is a style of cabinetry where the door is “set into” the face frame, instead of overlaying the face frame in overlay cabinetry

Cabinet doors can completely overlay the cabinet, or partially overlay. A full overlay cabinet is one in which the doors and drawer fronts cover the face frame completely. In appearance, a full overlay cabinet design is very much like a frameless cabinet design. A partial overlay design shows the frame in the space between the cabinet doors.

Framed/Frameless Cabinetry

Framed cabinetry: 1-1/2 inch face “frame” at the front of the cabinet box. This frame resembles a flat picture frame that is attached to the door front, giving added dimension to the door front. There is traditionally a center stile in bigger box cabinets with 2 doors.

Frameless cabinetry is sometimes called “full access” cabinetry because it offers greater accessibility by eliminating the face frame. Instead, it relies on thicker box construction for stability. Only full overlay doors can be used, with hinges attached directly to the sides of the cabinet box.

As mentioned, the main difference between using a manufacturer and a local cabinet shop for your cabinets is in the finish, which is a big pro to using a cabinet manufacturer. Most cabinet manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty of your product. Your cabinet guy may or may not still be in business in 10 years.

We believe in educating our clients about cabinet options in order to ensure they have the knowledge they need to choose the quality and features that will suit the needs of their families.

The next time your neighbor talks about wanting a new kitchen, share some of your new knowledge with her, then tell her you know a cabinet designer that can give her exactly what she wants.