Enter any kitchen and the first thing you’ll likely notice is the cabinetry. It is the showpiece of any kitchen. Cabinetry also plays a vital role in a kitchen’s function and storage. It is an essential part of a kitchen’s design. Your kitchen remodel is a time when you can select exactly what you want in your kitchen cabinetry—depending upon your budget, of course. With choices ranging from Stock Cabinets to Custom Cabinets or a blend of both in Semi-Custom Cabinets, here’s how to know the differences and make the right selections for your home.

What are Stock Cabinets?

Stock Cabinetry vs. Custom Cabinetry OR a Blend of Both in Semi-Custom: Know the Differences - quarts countertops in Oakland County kitchen remodel

Stock cabinets are mass produced and available ready-made. They are pre-manufactured, come in standard sizes, finishes and measurements, and are readily found in your local home improvement store or furniture shop—often in stock.

Know your kitchen measurements prior to researching cabinets, and choose your cabinet style and colors from the available stock either online or in person. Then either pick them up in store or have them delivered to your home. Typically, stock cabinets require some assembly, and you will need to install them yourselves, or hire a contractor or installer.


Least expensive option
Available in stock or with a short lead time


  • Limited to standard designs, sizes, styles, finishes and colors
  • Limited variety
  • Lower quality: Mass produced, Cheaper materials, Low grade finish
  • High risk of defects or missing parts
  • The cabinet undersides are often unfinished
  • Assembly and installation required


Stock cabinetry in kitchens typically range in the $10,000-15,000 price point.

What are Custom Cabinets?

Stock Cabinetry vs. Custom Cabinetry OR a Blend of Both in Semi-Custom: Know the Differences - transitional kitchen renovation Birmingham

As the name suggests, custom cabinets are custom-built to meet your personal and unique specifications. You are able to choose the shape, size, color, finish and function—literally every aspect.

You will work closely with a kitchen cabinet design specialist who can guide you through your decisions and provide expert advice. They will know what will look and work best in your home and will help you find the best solutions.

Your cabinets are often crafted by expert woodworkers to your specifications and will arrive fully assembled, along with professional installers who will ensure that they are installed properly.


  • Highly personalized: you design, choose and receive exactly what you want and need
  • Offers the most visual appeal
  • Exotic woods, specialty finishes, and door styles available
  • Custom lighting such as under-cabinet or in-cabinet lighting is available
  • Maximize every inch of space
  • You receive expert advice and guidance from a professional designer
  • High quality
  • Durable: provides a longer lifespan depending on the material used
  • No assembly required on your part
  • Higher return on investment


  • Most expensive option in kitchen cabinetry, as they are built from scratch.
  • Longer lead time for delivery and installation


Custom cabinetry in kitchens typically range in the $40,000+ price point.

What are Semi-Custom Cabinets?

Stock Cabinetry vs. Custom Cabinetry OR a Blend of Both in Semi-Custom: Know the Differences - Kitchen Remodel Birmingham

Semi-custom cabinets are built to order similar to custom cabinetry. However, they are built in a factory with specific size and finish constraints. Although those constraints are extremely wide ranging, you do not typically have the carte blanche options described with custom companies. They offer fewer design options than custom cabinets, but more design options than stock cabinets, falling in between the two. Your custom choices may be limited to color, finish and hardware.

Similar to stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets can also come in standard sizes. However, they may give designers the flexibility to resize and modify certain elements of the cabinet design.

If you have specific requests for your kitchen cabinets, be sure to compare the cost of semi-custom cabinets to custom cabinets.

You might be surprised to find that the price of semi-custom cabinets could be more than some fantastic custom manufacturers! Explore options with an open-minded design team.


  • Budget-friendly when you want a bit more control over design options
  • Improved fit and finishes
  • A custom look without the custom price
  • Wider selection of finishes, colors and options
  • Shorter lead time than custom cabinets


  • Less personalization: not all options or selections may be available; some compromises may need to be made
  • Cabinet sizes may be more difficult to fit into specific spaces
  • Cabinet undersides are often unfinished
  • Pricing is a reasonable percentage higher than stock cabinetry


Semi-Custom cabinetry pricing will generally fall mid-range between both stock and custom. This will vary depending on the modifications made in your design

Related: 6 Things to Know Before Buying Kitchen Cabinets

Which Cabinet Style Should You Choose?

To make the right choice, take a look at your preferences, needs and budget. Ask yourself why you need or want to remodel, and list what elements don’t necessarily work for you now. Also consider how long you will be living in your home. You may want to consider a more mid-range cabinet if you plan to move within 5 years. But keep in mind, the best kitchen design with most beautiful aesthetic styling will be a key player in attracting new home buyers.

Infusing your sense of style and vision into your new kitchen is very important and key to long-term happiness once the job is complete.  However, it is important to remember colors and styles that you are crazy about now, or those that are highly-popular may become dated more quickly than anticipated. This is why it is so important to work with an experienced design team who can guide you on trends and fresh ideas.  An experienced designer will work with your vision and incorporate elements throughout, while ensuring you have a kitchen that will make you happy and your visitors say “Wow!” for years to come.

To help you determine whether stock, custom or semi-custom cabinets are right, identify your budget up front and share your goals with your design team.

Then, ask yourself these questions:

Are Custom or Semi-Custom the right choice?

  • Do you need to outfit a kitchen for Universal Design to accommodate aging in place or a family member with special needs?
  • Are you hoping to expand the current layout into adjacent areas or perhaps build an addition for a larger more open kitchen layout?

Define your wish list items, make idea boards, and do research in the initial design phase to ensure you are satisfying both your needs and wants. As you examine your wish list, idea boards, and answers to all of these questions, you may find that custom, or perhaps semi-custom cabinetry, may be your best option.

Or is Stock Cabinetry the better fit?

  • Do you have a limited budget?
  • Is your kitchen and existing cabinets a standard size?
  • Do you just want something basic?
  • Are you handy and want to do the installation yourself or willing to work with an independent contractor?

If you find yourself answering “yes,” to the above, you might be a great candidate for stock cabinets.

For expert advice on Stock Cabinets vs. Custom Cabinets vs. Semi-Custom Cabinets, reach out to the kitchen design experts at MainStreet Design Build who have been building amazing kitchens from simple to extravagant for over 30 years.

Stock Cabinetry vs. Custom Cabinetry OR a Blend of Both in Semi-Custom: Know the Differences - MainStreet Design Team Group PhotoIf you are considering remodeling your kitchen and would like assistance deciding whether stock cabinets, custom cabinets, or semi-custom cabinets are right for you, contact MainStreet Design Build. We’ve been the first choice for design build home remodeling in and around the Birmingham, Michigan community for more than 30 years.

As an award-winning design-build remodeling firm, you’ll have the advantage of our expertise at your fingertips as you make important decisions about your kitchen or any other type of home remodel, including interior design services.

When you want a remodeling project that’s delivered with personal care, accountability and timeless detail, consider MainStreet Design Build. Contact us at 248-644-6330, or complete our convenient online form to schedule your complimentary design consultation.

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