Custom cabinets vs Prefabricated

As a custom cabinet maker, designer and installer, I have installed both my own custom cabinetry and cabinets from contractors who purchased through home stores or direct from the manufacturers.

I have found that over 90% of my prefabricated installations are flawed with either damaged, misordered or incomplete ordered cabinets. In the prefab world there are large manufacturers who are supplying hundreds of kitchens a month. When there is a problem with an order, the customer usually waits and waits about six weeks before the order is corrected with a new shipment. In the meantime everything related to the kitchen install is on hold, such as; countertops, back splash, plumbing etc. Many homeowners start to get frustrated at this point and begin to lose confidence in their contractor. Contractors who buy prefabricated cabinets don't want you to know about these possible problems.

So why do contractors continue to buy these prefabs? Cost is the number one reason. I used to build custom cabinets for a large remodeling contractor, who, to save money started buying prefabs. When I say "Save Money", I mean for the contractor. The contractor would mark these cabinets up so high, that they were making a great profit and charging over custom prices. I have to admit, when these kitchens were finally done (months later) they looked nice but the final cost, wow.

However, I installed these cabinets for them. I saw first hand how they were built and the materials used. These companies who I will not name, used materials like, 1/2" particle board with a simulated wood vinyl veneer and 1/8" hardboard backs. The solid wood used, sometimes was so warped, you could make rocking chairs with it. They almost all, use hot glue and corrugated staples to attach the face frame. We had to be careful installing these delicate cabinets. Drop one, and they would most likely collapse. I think, that is why a complete shipment of these prefabs would always have one or two show up with some damage.

Now, I know that these big manufacturers don't hand select materials for there cabinets. They use what ever is in their lumber stock. They have to be price effective, so materials and craftmanship play a big role in their manufacturing process. Get them built as fast as you can, with minimal cost.

Enough about the prefabricated, let me tell you a little bit about custom cabinetry. As I said in the beginning of this article I am a custom builder and designer as well. When I am dealing directly with the homeowner, I am able to get an idea of their wants, needs and function. Having designed, built and installed many a kitchen, I have a great sense of what is practical and what will just not work. I feel, that before you can design a kitchen, you need to have installed a few kitchens.

When I design a kitchen, I try to use all the space available without compromising the ease of use. Because my cabinetry is custom, I don't use fillers. My cabinet uppers are at the ceiling without any space beteween, voids or 6" fillers. True custom cabinetry is always built to your specifications and not the some manufacturers suggested specs.

In building my custom cabinetry, I am able hand select straight and choice hardwood lumber. I use a 3/4" prefinished birch plywood for my boxes with a 1/4" matching back. My face frames are attached using wood glue (there's a reason it's "wood" glue and not "hot" glue) and pocket hole jointery. I also make my toe kicks separate from the cabinets, so they can be leveled and plumbed with ease (granite installers love us for this). When possible, I build a straight run of cabinets as one cabinet, rather than build separate cabinets. This looks so much cleaner, without all the joint seams. I also install my cabinetry with a custom sprayed conversion varnish finish (top of the line for wood finishes), and of course I can install unfinished as well.

I can incorporate turned legs, fluted columns and arches to bring out the beauty of a custom designed kitchen and make your vision a reality. It's your kitchen, your living space and your home. Why would you turn it over to a manufacturer to decide what you can or can't have. Don't be limited with prefabricated cabinetry. Let us design your kicthen to it's fullest potential. There's no better feeling than knowing you got your monies worth!

I work with reputable contractors, such as: counter top people, plumbers, electricians, framers etc., whom you would hire on your own. This would not only save you money, but bring your project together in a timely manner, without the general contractor markup.

 Visit our website to get some Ideas of wood choice, finish or design. All the cabinets on our site can be incorporated into any kitchen.

By: Joe Tabera

About the Author:

Joe Tabera
Cabinets Etc.
Huntington Beach, California