It is all in a word, isn’t it? There are a lot of buzz words out there to describe custom, such as; “one-off”, “personalized” or “tailored to your needs”. This is a pet peeve of mine because the word is misused all the time, for example if you can choose a product color, does that mean its custom? It may be, but for the sake of my pet peeve, let’s talk cabinets.
Debunked: Cabinetry today is produced as stock, semi-custom and fully custom.
Stock cabinets cannot be modified, such as a ready to assemble cabinet like the ones sold at Ikea or from manufacturers that offer a limited color choice or wood specie selection, as well as cabinet sizing options that come in 3″ increments.
Semi-custom cabinets are what a majority of manufactured cabinetry is today. This type of manufacturing is more popular today for a few reasons:
1. Fully-custom buying habits changed as a result of the economy, forcing consumers to shift their attention from fully custom to high-end, semi-custom lines.
2. Cabinet manufacturers have developed streamlined production methods that allow certain custom modifications to be made without slowing production.
3. Many cabinet makers now have custom finish programs that previously were only available in fully-custom cabinetry.
4. Just-in-time manufacturing improvements have allowed vendors to choose quality levels that are higher in a manufactured cabinet with construction and finishes that are very close to fully custom shops.
Fully-custom (or truly-custom) cabinets do not have limitations on size, finishes or wood species. When The Wiese Company designs and produces a fully-custom kitchen, library or home office, we start with the look that our clients want to achieve; we can design the panel and rail profile as well as add edge and pilaster details the way we want them to look architecturally. The cabinets are produced differently, rather than becoming a batch at a factory, a team of cabinet makers receive a set of drawings to build the project and the cabinet makers bring the project to completion. Typically in a fully-custom model, the finish in the shop will be every bit as good as fine furniture, and usually with a bit more durability because of the intended end use.
Beyond the 3 levels of custom, there are still variations in assembly and material quality. For example, a vendor may build cabinets in a shop, but if they do not have a finish booth–where the finish can be baked or cured–then all the custom in the world won’t make them last longer. On a final note, some of our cabinet vendors offer unfinished cabinetry when the client prefers them to be painted on-site (with or without bush strokes). This is an amazing way to have the look and feel of a built-in place cabinet… just remember, you’ll want a very high level painter or artisan to be involved in the finish.
In the end, The Wiese Company’s main objective is that you receive a proper education on the differences in materials and assembly of any cabinet so that the word “custom” doesn’t lure you into a false sense of better quality.