Benefits of Unfinished Stock Cabinets - What to Look For

To save money, many a DIY homeowner has opted for unfinished stock cabinets vs. custom built for their kitchen. Without ever knowing what to look for in unfinished kitchen cabinets, to get the biggest bang out of their dollar.

All kitchen stock cabinets are not alike, nor does price always reflect the quality of the purchase. There are, however, rules of thumb.

Pre-made good quality cabinet prices

Good quality cabinet prices for the average sized kitchen (10X12 square feet) should run the DIY homeowner about $4,500. This price reflects unfinished stock cabinets, top and bottom. Countertops add to the cost.

Semi-custom unfinished kitchen cabinets doubles that figure; custom choices more than quadruples it. Obviously, stock cabinets are the least expensive new cabinetry option.

The difference between unfinished stock cabinets and semi-custom unfinished kitchen cabinets

Kitchen stock cabinets are standard-sized, factory made cabinets; sold off the shelf, ready to install. Although not the highest grade, good quality cabinet options are available.

A physical inspection of cabinet components will reveal which are best. Other than refinishing existing cabinets or purchasing used, stock cabinets represent the homeowner's greatest dollar value.

Semi-custom unfinished kitchen cabinets offer a higher quality cabinet. With added features, material choices, and greater style and size flexibility; whether face frame construction or frameless cabinets.

Semi-custom cabinets are also available finished, and typically sold in showrooms highlighting various styles. They are priced somewhere in between stock cabinets and custom-made.

Types of unfinished stock cabinets

Homeowners have two basic types of stock cabinets from which to select; frameless and face frame construction.

Frameless cabinets - also known as euro style cabinets - have no frame on the front of the cabinet box, and no center stile. The doors span the width of the carcase frame (cabinet body). And are attached by “invisible” cup hinges, concealed once the door is closed. Capturing a simpler, more contemporary look.

Kitchen stock cabinets with face frame construction have narrow strips of hardwood frames along the front of the carcase frame. There is a center stile, where the doors meet. Doors are set within the frame; hinges are exposed. Cabinets with face frame construction have a more traditional look than euro style cabinets.

Although the difference is mostly a matter of choice, frameless cabinets have slightly larger, easier to access storage spaces and somewhat wider drawers. While face frame construction increases cabinet rigidity and durability, and helps ensure the unit remains square.

What to look for in kitchen stock cabinets

There are several things to look for in stock cabinets, to ensure they are the best possible choice:

  • Most good quality cabinet carcases are made using plywood or particle board; plywood of the same thickness is strongest.
  • If the carcase frame is particle board, it should be at least 5/8” thick, preferably 3/4”. With vinyl or melamine coating on the inside surface of the kitchen stock cabinets, to protect against water damage.
  • It is common for stock cabinets with face frame construction to have particle or plywood bodies with real wood doors. While both the body and doors of frameless cabinets are typically particle board.
  • Whether euro style cabinets or unfinished stock cabinets using face frame construction. The drawers should either be real wood or plywood. Assembled using dovetail, dowel, or rabbit joints; not staples.
  • Lastly, unfinished kitchen cabinets with 4-sided drawers that use a front piece attached to the front (fourth) side are stronger than 3-sided drawers that utilize the drawer front as the fourth.

    Posted by: Lori
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