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Pros and Cons to Custom On-Site Finished Cabinets!

This one is a must read if you are planning to do any type of projects surrounding cabinets!

There are two ways to do cabinetry. One, is the pre-fabricated/pre-finished route where you choose a cabinet manufacture that offers a set amount of cabinet styles, sizes, and finishes with various levels of customization. Some of the quicker turnaround pre-fabricated cabinet companies often referred to as RTA (ready to assemble) will have fewer options than some of the longer lead time pre-fabricated companies.

I cannot stress this enough, there is a HUGE range of quality, price points, and lead times within the pre-fabricated/pre-finished cabinet manufacture options. Some of these manufactures do offer full customization and even custom colors + some even offer pre-fabricated cabinets that arrive on-site unfinished.

The second way of doing cabinetry, is going the custom/un-finished route. Typically, this method is when you work with a local cabinet maker where their specialty is woodworking. This method CAN (not always) be a faster and more cost-effective route of getting custom cabinets especially if you are wanting something ultra-custom and your builder has a good relationship with the cabinet maker to make your job a timeline priority.

Many of the cabinet makers will not even entertain finishing the cabinets because they are cabinet makers, not painters. When this is the case, a third-party painting company will need to be hired to come out and paint the cabinets once they are installed on-site which incurs a separate cost.

After 13 years of doing cabinets with both routes, here is my assessment of the Pros and Cons to Custom On-site finished cabinets:


  • The ability to choose a custom color which is great when you have a specific design in mind or want another element (like a wall or a door) the same exact color as your cabinets

  • [Can] be cheaper and quicker than waiting for the same level customization with a pre-fabricated cabinet

  • Paint scratches are MUCH easier to remedy than factory-finish cabinets since you know the exact color that was used


  • Will show scratches/dents quicker. Historically, cabinets that are painted or stained on-site, will show scratches/dents slightly faster than factory finish cabinets

  • More limited door options/styles outside of real wood. If you are looking for a modern vinyl or laminated cabinet door – this is usually not an option with local cabinet makers who use solid wood

  • Reliability/Warranty. Local custom cabinet shops are either a small company or a one-man show. Even if you or your builder have a good relationship with the cabinet maker, sometimes unforeseen life events happen or the cabinet maker can not handle the work load as well as the bigger manufactures can.


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