Custom Cabinets vs. Manufactured Cabinets

custom cabinets

Just last week, I got a call from a friend who told me his bookshelves had collapsed, and could we replace them? Sure enough, a couple of the 4′ wide shelves had snapped under the weight of books, and the others were sagging. They were made of the lowest-quality particleboard one could obtain, with a paper thin edgeband. I suggested that we replace them with Baltic Birch plywood, edgebanded with hard maple. He was concerned about the cost, but was pleasantly surprised when I gave him a quote for shelves that would hold anything he might place upon them.

We hear this all the time: “Sure, I’d love to get custom cabinets (or whatever), but won’t they be much more expensive than mass-produced ones?” The answer is, not necessarily. Yes, if one is comparing high-end custom cabinets to pop out junk from the big box stores, the custom ones will be a lot more expensive. But how about compared to “top of the line” manufactured cabinets?

In almost every instance where we are quoting custom cabinets vs. high end manufactured ones, our price will be equal to, or lower than theirs, and of considerably higher quality. I am constantly checking out cabinet retailers and big box stores to see their quality and price, and it shocks me to find them using low grade materials and methods in all but their most ridiculously priced top-end lines.

Particle board with cheap veneers is the norm. At Barney & Carey, we build all our cabinet boxes out of prefinished 3/4″ hardwood plywood, using the solid hardwood of the customer’s choice for stiles, faceframes, and drawer fronts. Our drawer boxes are dovetailed, and made with pre-finished maple plywood, including the 3/8″ or 1/2″ bottoms. (I’m sure you have seen mass-produced cabinet drawers with the 1/8″ masonite bottoms, inevitably going to sag or break, like the shelves mentioned above!)

I recently delivered a huge flooring order of solid clear white ash to an old customer who was remodeling his stately home. When I saw the boxes of manufactured kitchen cabinets being delivered, I asked why he didn’t ask me to quote him on custom cabinets. He said he didn’t know we produced them. His were just “OK,” and I was really shocked when I heard what he paid. A significant part of that hefty price was going to retail markup, advertising, shipping, and even those fancy cartons in which they were shipped!

Bottom line: If you are considering the purchase of manufactured high-end cabinets from a fancy kitchen retailer, or even a big box store, please let us quote you! At your option, we can design, build, and install your cabinets of impeccable quality, for the same or usually less money. Give us a try! It costs you nothing to get a quote!