Jan 23, 2022 : The Big Decision – Custom vs. Prefabricated Cabinets

The Big Decision – Custom vs. Prefabricated Cabinets

What do you imagine with a kitchen remodeling project? Do you imagine beautiful cabinetry that maximizes the storage space in your kitchen? Are you tired of the wasted space above your cabinets and would love to be able to store items all the way to the ceiling? 

What about color and design? Are you looking for a unique color that you can’t find in prefab cabinets? If you want to hire a kitchen designer and go all out, you may be in the market for semi-custom or custom cabinets. So let’s take an in-depth look into custom vs. prefab cabinets. 

What Are Custom Cabinets?

Custom cabinets are just as they sound, specifically built to the homeowners’/contractors’ specifications including measurements, colors, finishes, etc… Custom cabinets are high-quality as they are made specifically to your preferences instead of a canned design. For example, you can choose different sizes of doors and drawers, flat cabinet doors, you can choose the type of wood, the color, and just about anything else about the appearance and layout of the cabinets.

As you decide between custom vs. prefab cabinets, learn about the limitations that come with choosing prefabricated cabinets. 

What Are Prefab Cabinets?

“Prefab” cabinets is short for prefabricated cabinets, which means they are made ahead of time in standard sizes, shapes, and wood choices. Instead of fitting the cabinets to your specific kitchen and the space available, you choose from the sizes offered that are premade and make them fit in your kitchen the best that you can. 

Prefab cabinets come in preset colors and designs which you typically cannot refinish even if you wanted to. With prefab cabinets, the price is lower, which is a strong selling point for these cabinets, especially in home flip jobs as well as for homeowners who want to spend more on appliances and less on cabinets.

As you consider custom vs. prefab cabinets, remember that the average homeowner remodels a kitchen once every 20 years. If you are investing in your dream kitchen for the next 20 years, this could be one of the biggest decisions you make about your kitchen.

What Makes Custom Cabinets Different From Prefab Cabinets?

So how do custom and prefabricated cabinets differ? Let’s explore 3 aspects of what makes custom kitchen cabinets different from prefab cabinets. 


The quality of your kitchen cabinets is vital to your kitchen makeover. Cabinets are used to hold heavy items in the kitchen that could be a significant loss if they were to fall and shatter. The kitchen is filled with priceless items, many stored in your cabinets. The last thing you want to do is choose a lower-quality product just to have the cabinet give out and damage everything inside. 

What are the differences in quality in custom vs. prefab cabinets? 

  • Custom Cabinets: With custom cabinets, you get to choose the wood. You can choose an oak or a pine with a beautiful satin finish that will complement or diversify your bright kitchen, or you can select dark blue matte paint to keep the kitchen trendy and give it a fun vibe. 

Choose solid wood where it counts for quality reassurance. When you choose solid wood for your cabinet doors, you can always go back and easily sand them down and change the stain or color. So give your kitchen a quick and inexpensive makeover a few years down the road. 

  • Prefab Cabinets: Prefab cabinets are made in a factory, sometimes years ahead of time. The quality is typically not as good and typically doesn’t allow for refinishing (there are exceptions) for an updated look. Although the price is lower, it doesn’t always mean cheaper is better as you can expect prefab cabinets to need replacing after 10-15 years. 

In addition, prefab cabinets are made in an assembly line and can lack quality control. You may find the paint or stain to be uneven or a piece of hardware to be screwed in unevenly. Be aware of these missteps when choosing custom vs. prefab cabinets. 


When you have a kitchen makeover, the one thing you want to do is implement all the aspects of your kitchen that you wish you’d had all these years. The biggest complaint about kitchens is the lack of storage space. Imagine if you could fill every nook and cranny of your kitchen with cabinets that allow for extra storage. How would that change your quality of life? 

  • Custom Cabinets: When you choose custom cabinets, you can rely on maximizing the space in your kitchen. Use the space all the way up to the ceiling of your kitchen. Take out dividers that limit the height of items that can be stored in the cupboard. You can also add extra doors to the back of the deep cabinet that no one can ever reach. Finally, add a cabinet door that opens on the other side of the wall by the kitchen table. 
  • Prefab Cabinets: With prefab cabinets, you will see the sizes that are available, and you’ll have to Tetris them into your kitchen space to try to maximize the space as much as possible. You won’t ever be able to use every bit of space in your kitchen since every kitchen is different. 


The biggest selling point of custom cabinets is the customization options. You have so much freedom to design exactly what you want your kitchen to look like. There are no hiding cabinets in your kitchen. Instead, the cabinets bring the whole design together, so you better be sure you love what you choose. 

  • Custom Cabinets: Choose the wood, the color, the size, the drawer pulls, the premium features like adding a lazy susan or shelves on rollers that can pull out so you can reach the pots and pans. Install cabinets that go around curved corners or reach all the way to the ceiling. 
  • Prefab Cabinets: You will have a few options with prefab cabinets. You can choose from two or three sizes and two or three colors. You can add your own hardware later, but they will not come with customized hardware. You also can get them painted later at extra cost, but keep in mind the wood quality is lower and will not sand down like solid wood. 

You have big decisions to make when it comes to custom vs. prefab cabinets. Sketch out your vision first, and if prefab cabinets do not fit that vision, you can move on to semi-custom or custom cabinets. 

How to Choose Your Custom Cabinets

The choices are endless with custom cabinets! But it is helpful to know where to start. Look at some of these customizable options that will help your kitchen remodeling project come to life: 

  • Color: You can go with a beautiful white color to maximize the natural light in your kitchen. Or mix and match with a dark charcoal gray on the bottom rows and a light color up high. 
  • Stain: Keep your cabinets natural by maximizing the natural wood. You can add a protective stain that will make them easy to wipe down. 
  • Size: Fill in each corner with custom cabinets that have drawer shelves that are easy to access. You can reach the cabinets all the way to the ceiling and line cabinets in the awkward spaces above the pantry door or the nook by the kitchen table. 
  • Door Design: Choose flat, sleek door fronts or add an indented design. 
  • Special Features: Do not forget a lazy susan in a corner cabinet to spin around and reach the ingredients deep in the cupboard. Or you can add drawers with built-in spice racks. 
  • Hardware: Choose from hundreds of customized hardware options that are carefully applied to your cabinets professionally. 

Once you weigh the options between custom and prefab, you may be pleasantly surprised how low-cost semi-custom cabinets or fully customized cabinets can be. Set your priorities and what you want in your kitchen, and make it happen. 

Magnolia Home Remodeling Group is Your Custom Kitchen Expert!

Let Magnolia Home Remodeling Group take care of your kitchen renovation. We can help you decide on custom vs. prefab cabinets for your home. Use our expertise to find out what designs are worth investing in according to the up-and-coming trends when it comes to resale. 

Our team has built a reputation of trust and commitment. When you partner with Magnolia, you will always have a go-to contractor for any home remodeling project that comes up. We love to build life-long relationships with our clients. Contact us to get started on planning today. 

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