Choosing New Cabinets – Here’s What to Know Before You Shop

Choosing new cabinets might sound really fun at first, but as you start to look more into cabinets, you might begin to feel a little overwhelmed. When people purchase a home or rent an apartment, they assume that all cabinets are created equal and that they are easy to pick out, right? But, that’s just not true. Not only do you have a lot of aesthetic differences, but there are a lot of other factors that come into play when purchasing cabinets for your kitchen or bathroom. If you understand these factors, you will then be able to make a choice selection – a choice that is the best cabinet for your specific needs, budget, how you want the cabinets to look and more.

Parts & Types Of A Cabinet

There are 3 main components to a cabinet, that is the box, the drawers, and the shelves. However, all three of these can be constructed, as well as designed in several different ways. There are 4 main types of cabinet constructions.

1- Boxed/Stock: These come right from the manufacture, they are pre-made, they won’t have any custom features, except maybe the knobs, and that’s it. These are by far and wide the plainest cabinets in that you don’t get a say in what they look like, but they are also the cheapest!

2- Boxed and Ready To Assemble/Stock: These are a little more customizable because you can choose the dimensions of the cabinets, but that’s about it. These are also easy to install, like the ones above, with minimal custom options and they are the second cheapest option.

3- Semi-Custom: These are semi-custom in that you get to choose the detailing options. They will usually still be the basic dimensions, but you might be able to change the size on things like the door fronts, the drawer sizes, and the cabinet depth.

4- Fully Custom: These, like anything else custom, are the most expensive. But, it might be worth it to you. You will be able to customize everything, not only from the type of wood and stain/finish but also every single dimension is customizable. These are going to be built by a skilled trade professional, like a carpenter, and they will take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to build.

Types Of Materials

In the cabinetry world, the first 3 cabinet types tend to be made from one of these materials; plywood, MDF, particle board, etc.

Plywood: Pretty stable material. However, also pretty expensive too. These tend to be either maple or birch veneer i.e. layers of wood that are attached to create the look of wood. Plywood will cost anywhere between $10,000 for a set of cabinets. Just a set! If it’s added in with particleboard it might cost up to $12,000 for a set.

MDF: Less expensive than something like plywood. These are better suited for painted cabinets rather than stained cabinets. These will cost around $350 $500 for 1 unit.

Particleboard: Incredibly inexpensive. This can be stained or painted. However, even though they’re cheap in terms of budget, they also aren’t made very well. If you’ve ever bought a desk or a nightstand made from particleboard, you know that the overall construction and its lack of stability are what make this material, not so ideal. Particle board cabinets will cost around $100 to $200 per unit.

As you can see from the prices mentioned above, the distinction is quite different.

Sometimes some companies for the stock or semi-custom cabinets will even use all 3 “woods” above, for different aspects of the cabinets. Laminates are just another word for veneer, it tends to be either a plywood or MDF construction that is a thin layer of wood, that is nailed or glued onto the cabinet. Laminates are less about stability, and more about aesthetics really.

Real Wood Cabinets

Yes, there are real wood cabinets. But, like with anything else that entails real wood, these are expensive. This type of wood will most likely only be used as a custom cabinetry. Its one of the reasons, besides labor, that make custom cabinets so expensive they can be used in the kitchen, closet and in your home or office where it requires for a custom made cabinet. By the way, you do have so many choices like Pecan wood, Walnut, Hickory, Alder, Pine, Oak, Maple, Cherry and more are available when decided on custom cabinets. If you love the look and feel of real wood, and you want to really make the experience customizable, then the custom cabinets for your kitchen or any other place in your home are going to be a good option for you. You can also find non-customizable wood cabinets ie; made by the manufacturer, you get what you get, in real wood too. These tend to be less expensive than a custom real wood cabinet, but again, that’s because of the labor and the custom features. The more custom a cabinet is, the more expensive it’s going to be, no matter what material you use.


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