Custom vs Semi vs Prefab Cabinets
Dark Kitchen Contemporary Cabinets

New kitchen cabinet shopping is fun and exciting, but it‘s often awfully confusing, too. What’s the difference between custom, semi-custom, and prefabricated cabinets … and how do you decide which is best for your home?

That’s where an experienced kitchen designer can play an essential role. Kimberly Silcox, of Laurysen’s award-winning design team, explains the pros and cons of each cabinet type.

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Pre-Fab (“Stock”) Cabinets


Price: Prefab cabinetry usually comes with the lowest price tag.

Speed: They’re ready immediately (though if they’re delivered flat-packed from a big-box store, you still have to take time for assembly).


Poor value: You get what you pay for. Prefabricated cabinets are usually made of cheap materials and their cost often does not include installation.

Flimsiness: “We find a lot of people regret installing prefab cabinets afterwards. For example, putting all this money into a beautiful quartz countertop and then installing it onto prefab cabinetry. Often the cabinetry base may not be as strong or as secure as they were hoping,” Kim explains.

Limited size range: Standards sizes may not suit your kitchen – or your needs.

Lack of kitchen design options: “With pre-fabricated cabinets, you’re working with what you’ve got rather than creatively working with your space,” comments Kim.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

Example of Classic Kitchen Design
Example of Classic Kitchen Design


Price: Semi-custom usually costs 15-30% less than fully custom cabinetry.

Perfect fit: These cabinets will fit into your kitchen without awkward gaps or exposed seams.

Design choices: Kim enthuses, “With all the cabinet door styles and cabinet finish options, semi-custom cabinets really make the kitchen feel like your own.”

Colour: Pick from a wide range of cabinet colours. Why not mix and match light and dark cabinets or a contrasting wooden countertop for a unique, modern look?

Speed: Your semi-custom order will tend to arrive faster than custom cabinetry.


Size: Although you can customize certain features, you are still confined to standard cabinet dimensions.

Custom Cabinets

Example of Contemporary Kitchen Design
Example of Contemporary Kitchen Design


Adaptability: It’s possible to design custom cabinets to work in any kitchen — even one with crooked walls and floors or other quirks.

Flexibility: Custom cabinets offer optimal use of space, personalized storage solutions, and the opportunity to change kitchen layout as you wish. In Kim’s words, “The sky’s the limit in what you can achieve in an open space.”

Traditional artisanship: Custom cabinet makers take care of every step of the process, from design through building and installation.

Luxurious details: You’ll be able to splurge on details such as quality wood, a “statement” kitchen island, and soft closing doors and drawers.


Cost: Custom are the priciest of the three. They’re not cost-effective if you are listing your home within the next 3 years. This is due to the personalization you would place on the design and finishing materials.

Speed: Building custom kitchen cabinets is a lengthy process. Be prepared to work this extra time — plus potential delays — into your remodel schedule.

Why Choose Your Cabinets With The Guidance Of A Kitchen Designer?

Once again, Kim says it best: “It’s all about making the most out of your space and cabinetry. With set prefab sizes, you’ll potentially have a lot of room for filler, which is what a lot of people are trying to avoid.

“Going to a kitchen designer gives you more options. We’re very familiar with cabinetry; we live and breathe that stuff. At the end of the day, we’re giving you more innovative ideas for an ideal outcome.”

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