Kitchen Cabinets
Four Levels Of Quality

Buying kitchen cabinets is the most important decision in a kitchen remodel. They are the first thing you see when entering, they take up the most "eye real estate",and they are also the last thing you see when leaving. Kitchen cabinet construction has a major impact on how long your kitchen is going to hold up to the rigors of the kitchen environment. 

It is a false premise that the four levels indicate levels of quality. Cabinets can be both poor and fine in all levels. When selecting cabinets the quality should jump out at you. Poorly made cabinets look cheap. Well made cabinets have the look and feel of a quality and that can't be copied.

A poorly made cabinet not only looks cheap, it will also need to be replaced sooner than a cabinet of higher quality. So when choosing cabinets, quality is a major factor. Your budget will be the ultimate decision maker but it should allow for quality cabinets. The kitchen cabinets should be of the best quality your budget affords.

Most cabinets are mass produced these days, some say it's a good thing because the prices are much cheaper, yet others say a kitchen should last a lifetime and mass produced cabinets won't last. I say yes to both, the prices are much cheaper than in years past but the quality is going down.


There are four levels of cabinets:
semi custom,
ready to assemble, and stock.

BUT this is not always the case as you will see in the pages below. It all depends on how your cabinets are assembled and with what materials they are assembled with.

Price is generally a gauge on the quality of the cabinets, but a nice looking expensive kitchen might not be the best built kitchen, don't go on emotion when picking out your cabinets. Always check the quality before buying.

Another option you want to consider is using a stock cabinet of good quality and buying very high quality custom cabinet doors. If your cabinets are still in good shape it may also be a good idea to simply swap out the doors and completely transform the look of your kitchen, and for much less money than a complete remodel.

The Four Types Of Cabinets

  • Custom cabinets are cabinets "made to order". They can be made to specific sizes and utilize the most of the space. Custom cabinets also afford the flexibility in design that the semi-custom and stock cabinets cannot give. Whatever you want to do in the design, finish, door panels, and materials is available with custom cabinets. The only limitation is your budget.

  • Semi custom cabinets are cabinets that allow for some flexibility in design and materials. Most Semi-custom cabinets are of a standard size. Therefore flexibility in size is not available in most of this type. Semi-custom cabinets allow for some finish and door design choices. With this type of cabinet the full use of space is limited. Although there are generally more sizes available than with stock cabinets.

  • Stock cabinets are cabinets that are "off the shelf". They offer very little in the ways of finish and door design. They are standard sizes and offer no variation. Stock cabinets are less expensive than both the custom and semi-custom cabinets and are usually of lower quality. Most come unfinished and need to be finished by a professional or by the homeowner.

  • RTA kitchen cabinets (ready to assemble) are yet another option, and a good way to get new cabinets; without the astronomical price tag. These cabinets have come a very long way and the quality and warranties available are outstanding.

As you can see there are many different price options in cabinets. The highest priced cabinets will be the most personal because they are made to your specifications and style. While the others will require some compromises, but will still give you a great kitchen.

A kitchen can last a lifetime if the highest quality cabinetry is selected. In the long run it is always a better choice to purchase a more expensive cabinet of higher quality. If your kitchen had to get replaced every 5-10 years, because of poor quality, the extra cost at the initial installation would be well justified.

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