Home Depot vs Custom Cabinets - Which Should You Choose?

Cabinets and Countertops
Carpentry
Kitchen Remodeling
By Contractors.com Team July 02, 2021

New kitchen cabinets are one of the most important parts of any kitchen remodel project. There’s one very important question to consider when you’re in the market for new kitchen cabinets, though: should you go custom cabinets or pre-designed, home depot cabinets? In other words, should you go for in-stock cabinets or have your kitchen cabinets made to your taste to a T instead? 

If budget is your main concern, this may seem like a question that can be answered quite quickly. After all, in-stock cabinets tend to be cheaper than their custom-made counterparts. But there’s more to consider than just price when it comes to choosing the right cabinets for your kitchen remodel. Thanks to the huge range of cabinet choices, you don’t have to make budget-based compromises at the expense of quality. 

Home Depot Kitchen Cabinets

Pre-fabricated cabinets indeed tend to cost less than custom kitchen cabinets. If you choose ready-made cabinets you’ll also have the perk of convenience, since you won’t have to wait for your cabinets to be manufactured and can have them installed sooner. That’s pretty handy if you need your kitchen remodel to be speedy and cost-effective. 

High-quality cabinets can increase home value and make your home more desirable. But, if you plan to sell your home after your kitchen remodel you might find that your customized cabinets are a waste of investment because they aren’t exactly to the taste of potential buyers.  

Custom cabinets require more in the way of measurement and aesthetic considerations. As the homeowner, you’ll be faced with more homework since your custom cabinets need to be made to fit your kitchen in sizing as well as in style, so there’s a higher chance of you experiencing decision fatigue. Pre-fabricated cabinets don’t need all that jazz because there is already a predetermined list of styles and sizes to choose from, which means less back and forth and fewer calculations. Plus, some brands such as IKEA offer a semi-custom range of in-stock cabinets which can be tailored to your specific styling needs, so you don’t need to skip out on customization just to save money.  

The Real Deal On In-Stock Cabinets

The Real Deal On In-Stock Cabinets

The Custom Difference

Having said that, there are some significant reasons you might want to go for custom cabinets instead, even if your kitchen remodel is more budget-oriented. There is a default understanding that in-stock cabinets are usually more affordable and that is not the full story. The store cost of in-stock cabinets is not the only expense. You also need to pay for the assembly and installation of your cabinets and that can add to the price considerably. If you choose semi-custom cabinets, you stand to pay quite a bit more, especially if you opt to upgrade to higher quality materials and bigger sizes.

When all is said and done, your final price for Home Depot or Ikea cabinets will probably be just a few thousand dollars short of the price you would have paid for custom cabinets. So, the price difference may not be as big as you might think at the end of the day. On top of this, in-stock cabinets are usually made with much cheaper materials than their custom counterparts. Home Depot cabinets are typically made with a mixture of particleboard and medium-density fibreboard (MDF), which are both susceptible to water damage. This makes these materials much less durable than solid woods such as oak, which are used for custom cabinets. Custom cabinets will also sport more durable handles, hinges, and sliders which will be better able to withstand years of heavy use.

What You Should Consider When Choosing Between In-Stock and Custom Made Cabinets

What You Should Consider When Choosing Between In-Stock and Custom Made Cabinets

Custom kitchen cabinet manufacturers work to establish a good line of communication with their clients so that the client is involved in each stage of the process. In line with this, custom cabinet manufacturers, however, tend to offer much more customer support. Conversely, a lot of in-stock cabinets will come with limited manufacturer warranties which may not account for certain defects such as water damage. 

Cabinetmakers will also do extensive measurements and re-designs as part of the installation process to make sure everything fits just right. By contrast, many big box hardware stores such as Lowe’s have significantly limited the level of service they will give you when installing kitchen cabinets. 

At most, a resident designer at a store like Lowe’s or Home Depot will be able to give you a basic blueprint of your kitchen cabinet layout. However, they won’t be able to visit your kitchen or take measurements themselves, meaning the support they offer is pretty limited. Instead, it will be up to you or your kitchen contractor to measure and install your in-stock cabinets properly.  

The Difference Between Custom and In-Stock Is Much More than the Price

The Difference Between Custom and In-Stock Is Much More than the Price

User Needs

Instead of basing your choice only on budget, it’s better therefore that your choice of kitchen cabinets be more based on user needs. Put simply, what is it you need from your kitchen cabinets, and what kind of use will your kitchen cabinets see on a daily basis? If your kitchen cabinets will be used to store big heavy pots and pans which will be frequently taken out and put back in, then durability should be high on the list of qualities to look for in your kitchen cabinetry.  

Renovation Choices Should Reflect Your Family's Lifestyle

Renovation Choices Should Reflect Your Family's Lifestyle

Cheaply made cabinets will develop issues fairly quickly if they are subjected to heavy use. It isn’t uncommon for kitchen cabinet doors to sag, bend as a result of water damage, lose their handles, or experience other problems if they are used a lot. This is especially true if they are made of low-quality materials. A kitchen that is being used to feed a family will take plenty of knocks as the years roll by, and kitchen cabinets made with cheaper materials may not be up to that task. So if you want to upgrade your kitchen for kid duty, a set of premium custom cabinets will offer you higher value. 

Custom Cabinets Give You Flexibility Not Only In Design

Custom Cabinets Give You Flexibility Not Only In Design

As with bathroom cabinets, custom kitchen cabinets give you much more flexibility in your remodeling project. If you have unique styling or sizing requirements it can be difficult to find pre-fabricated cabinets that precisely match your specifications, since what you see is basically what you get. Semi-custom cabinets will give you some more options, but you’ll still be limited to the catalog the manufacturer offers. Custom cabinets, however, can be made to order pretty easily, giving you almost unlimited options when it comes to materials, finishes, and sizes. 

On the flip side, if you’re considering new kitchen cabinets for a temporary home, a summer home, or an Airbnb you’re renting out, user needs can be a little different. In these types of homes, the kitchen will typically see significantly less heavy-duty cooking and wear, so in-stock cabinets may be a perfectly adequate way to go.

It’s Not Black And White

Many of us want quality, functionality, durability, and affordability in our kitchen fixtures. Also, some of us just need something that works and that can be quickly and cheaply installed. Many of us can’t live for weeks without kitchen cabinets while waiting for the custom ones to arrive. For this reason, it might be worth it for some homeowners to go for semi-custom cabinets even if it does mean settling for generally lower quality.

Durability, Functionality, and Lifestyle Are All Things to Consider When Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

Durability, Functionality, and Lifestyle Are All Things to Consider When Choosing Kitchen Cabinets

You’ll save money and time over custom options while still getting something that’s higher quality than standard in-stock cabinets. Also if stock cabinets get damaged they are usually easier and cheaper to replace since they are mass-produced, which makes them ideal for a house you plan to rent out. If you want your kitchen remodel to be a DIY job, you’ll have an easier time and save a lot of money with in-stock cabinets. Since everything is premade and pre-measured, you just need to worry about installation, which should be fairly straightforward if you have a standard-shaped kitchen. 

Having said that, it’s important to recognize that opting for semi-custom cabinets will leave you and your contractor with most of the responsibility for the project’s success. Even if you save time by skipping the custom cabinet design process, you will still need to do research on which semi-custom cabinet materials and components will offer you the best bang for your buck. Because of this, the quality and durability of your semi-custom cabinets will depend to some extent on the quality of the installation and the grade of the materials you choose. The quality of your semi-custom cabinets is an even more important consideration if you plan to sell your house since unattractive and/or low-quality kitchen cabinetry can lower your home’s value

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team