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-   -   Cabinets - Custom vs High Quality Prefab? (http://www.diychatroom.com/f15/cabinets-custom-vs-high-quality-prefab-95242/)

FlyingHammer 02-12-2011 08:21 AM

Cabinets - Custom vs High Quality Prefab?
 
In the final planning stage of a major kitchen remodel, and just starting to think about cabinets. I went to a home show yesterday and spoke with a custom cabinet maker who *appears* to be highly skilled and someone I could work with. I'd obviously have to do a bit more investigation before committing, but...

He tells me he can design, build, and install custom cabinets for "about the same price" as high end prefab cabinets from the big box stores (similar wood, hardware, and features). If true I would definitely want to go custom, but I'm skeptical. Has anyone done an in-depth comparison between custom and pre-fab cabs? What should I watch out for?

Jackofall1 02-12-2011 08:27 AM

Was your intention to do any of the work yourself, or were you going to hire out the install of the cabinet from the big box stores?

The install is where you can really save big, I am sure the difference in the big box stores and custom is going to be the accessories you will get if you stick with the big box stores, ie lazy suzans, pull out corner cabinet solution, soft close doors and drawers, roll out shelving, grab handles and knobs.

Mark

FlyingHammer 02-12-2011 08:38 AM

If pre-fab, I would most likely do the install myself. But it's a big kitchen, so it could take me a week or two to finish working part time.

Jackofall1 02-12-2011 08:42 AM

If you were planning to do the install yourself, there is no way a custom cabinet maker could do both fab and install for the same price as your purchase price of prefab, not without cutting some serious corners.

Mark

pyper 02-12-2011 02:19 PM

Here are a few details to check into:

* hinges.
* drawer slides.
* how the drawers are jointed.

Ron6519 02-13-2011 02:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FlyingHammer (Post 589484)
In the final planning stage of a major kitchen remodel, and just starting to think about cabinets. I went to a home show yesterday and spoke with a custom cabinet maker who *appears* to be highly skilled and someone I could work with. I'd obviously have to do a bit more investigation before committing, but...

He tells me he can design, build, and install custom cabinets for "about the same price" as high end prefab cabinets from the big box stores (similar wood, hardware, and features). If true I would definitely want to go custom, but I'm skeptical. Has anyone done an in-depth comparison between custom and pre-fab cabs? What should I watch out for?

What are the cabinets made from? Particle board or cabinet grade plywood? Is the ply 1/2" or 3/4" thick.
Go onto a website of a cabinet line you're interested in and see what's what.
Most companies have 3 grades of cabinets. And as Pyper mentioned compare the hardware. Full extension undermount guides from Blum. or the 3/4 extensions from the big box. Big difference in price.
You need to find one orange before you can compare it to the other.
Ron

Jim F 02-13-2011 05:07 PM

I was told something similar but the difference turned out to be about 6000. If you met this cabinet maker at a home show you must have seen a sample of his work. You should have him give you an estimate and then compare to say Kraftmaid cabinets.

distcab 02-22-2011 02:45 PM

proceed with caution
 
I own my own cabinet shop and customers always want to compare premade prices to the price of custom cabinets. Unless the cabinet maker got a tremendous deal on wood, it's unlikely that he can produce high quality cabinets for less than what it costs for premade cabinets... proceed with caution.

RedHelix 02-24-2011 02:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FlyingHammer (Post 589484)
He tells me he can design, build, and install custom cabinets for "about the same price" as high end prefab cabinets from the big box stores (similar wood, hardware, and features). If true I would definitely want to go custom, but I'm skeptical. Has anyone done an in-depth comparison between custom and pre-fab cabs? What should I watch out for?

My wife is a CAD jockey for a design firm that does a lot of jobs with Premier CB. (Not to be confused with home depot brand... six-figure kitchens, man.)

I'll ask her for some info, as they bounce between pre-fab and custom jobs all the time. But I can say right now that one of her questions will be what that dude was smoking.

JCarsten 03-01-2011 10:51 AM

For all my jobs, I tell the customer to look at what they want in the finished look.

Box cabinets can produce a great product, but have little flexibility (most lines). If you need 19 1/2 inches, they'll give you 18 inches and a filler strip. Custom cabinets will give you 19 1/2 inches.

Box cabinets come prefinished. Custom cabinets can come either unfinished or finished. In most cases, the finish on box cabinets is better.

Painted cabinets versus stained cabinets- Box cabinets will have to be face nailed for items like crown or other mouldings. You will never completely hide nail holes, unless you completely paint over the entire cabinet. Stained cabinets are easier to hide nail holes, but are still visible on a prefinished cabinet.

Some people do not like fillers and seeing nail holes. Then we go custom.
Some people never look at the details and want the price to be lower. Then we go box.
When you factor in finishing, good custom cabinets are always more expensive than box.

Depends on how picky you are.

Jason Myrlie
www.jcarstenhomes.com

user1007 04-12-2011 04:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by FlyingHammer (Post 589484)
as high end prefab cabinets from the big box stores (similar wood, hardware, and features). If true I would definitely want to go custom, but I'm skeptical. Has anyone done an in-depth comparison between custom and pre-fab cabs? What should I watch out for?

First lets clear up the misconception that box stores sell high end pre-fab cabinets. They don't. They are not awful unless we are talking the Swedish place but they don't come close to the quality of what you will find at a kitchen cabinet supplier. And no offense to the ones that are good and just need work right now but most contractors those places hire would not be allowed on a restoration project of mine.

"Look level enough! Screw it in place Gus! What do you mean we missed the stud? Ah the H with it, the screws in the other two will hold it all up!"

Obviously a custom cabinet maker, or even a real semi-custom one with a team that can REALLY measure and install is going to give you a better kitchen. And you get to pick the wood, hinges, pull handles and other bells and whistles. Mine would never put me in a situation of having to explain why a piece has to be cut to cover a one inch gap or something like I see with box store installations.

Custom cabinet makers are hungry too these days and slowly finding their businesses challenged by box store crap. If you found a good one with checked out references I don't really have to sum up my opinion I hope? Even if he or she is 20-40 percent more you will be happier. And any real estate agent will tell you, at least in the recent past, any money you put in a nice kitchen comes back to you at least once over.

All that said? If you are not going to live in the house for long? If you can find a box store person who can measure to the 1/6th or 1/32nd in all the important places? And shows up with a Stanley or Lufkin tape and not the ones HD does for $3 and it is marked in fractions? Go with the bulk frefab things. The argument to prefab cabinets is that under factory conditions they can be built with better joints, made more square, etc. Any cabinet maker can acccomplish the same and the problem is walls, floors and ceilings in homes, especially older ones, are seldom level and square. Only a cabinet maker can make it look like it doesn't matter.

FlyingHammer 04-13-2011 08:54 AM

Thanks to all who replied. I truely appreciate all your insights.

After doing a thorough apples-to-apples comparison we decided to go custom. We could have actually saved a few bucks with pre-fab, but only because we would have been able to stack several discounts. Even with all the discounts, pre-fab was only about 8% less than the cabinet maker. And that didn't include installation (or any of the fillers we forgot to include) so it was pretty much a wash price-wise. I still find it hard to believe.

The cabinet guy has already been to the house twice to measure, make templates, and review plans/drawings. He hasn't started installing anything yet, but I am absolutely certain we made the right decision. There is no way we would have been able to work in so many custom features with the pre-fab cabs.

user1007 04-13-2011 10:48 AM

Your post was a good one and I am sure you will be pleased with the results. Let us know how it turns out and post some pics if you feel like it?

mv2rwc 04-20-2011 03:08 PM

Flyinghammer,

Please let us know how it goes.

We are in a middle of a remodel and are looking at cabinet options as well.

So far we looked at big box cabinet option (HD - craftmaid) and the ready to assemble internet firm (RTA Cabinet).

We did not look at the custom option yet mainly because I thought the cost would extremely high.

Thanks!


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