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10x10 Kitchens Starting at $3500  -  Free Delivery On All Orders Over $3000

All Cabinetry Is Not Created Equal

Custom vs. Semi-Custom vs. Stock

Custom cabinetry is designed and made specifically for your kitchen, giving you an endless array of sizes, shapes, and finishes. Representing the higher-end of kitchen quality and cost, luxury manufacturers feature many combinations of wood species, finishes and door styles. Custom means having the capability of creating one of a kind pieces that are only limited by the imagination.

Semi-custom cabinets are factory-produced in common sizes — usually in increments of 3 inches — but often accommodate requests for common modifications, such as custom depths, heights, and glass inserts for additional cost. With semi-custom cabinets, unusual sizes, shapes, and accessories may be ordered. A good kitchen cabinetry designer working with an adventurous installation specialist can invent creative solutions that work within the restraints of semi-custom cabinets.

Stock cabinetry is factory made in standard sizes and shapes. It often is held in inventory until purchased, which keeps choices down to a few common sizes and wood species. Stock cabinetry is the least expensive cabinet category. Mainly this is due to less expensive construction materials like furniture board and melamine.

Cabinetry: Painted vs. Stained

One of the most frequent questions we are asked in regards to custom kitchen cabinets is: Is it better to paint or stain cabinets?

With the availability of modern finishes for custom kitchen cabinets, it really comes down to your personal aesthetic preferences. Many homeowners simply prefer the look of natural wood grain, including any visible knots or "imperfections". In fact, many clients feel it's a travesty to paint over the beauty of natural wood. Others like the more uniform and streamlined look available from the infinite variety of paint colors.

Here is a brief breakdown of the differences between painting or staining custom kitchen cabinets.

Aesthetics. Here, it's a matter of personal preference. When couples are at a stalemate about painting or staining, we say, "why not do both?" Two-tone kitchens are popular. You can achieve this look by painting your cabinets and leaving the kitchen island and/or other accents - such as the pantry, cookbook shelves, etc. stained. In addition to a compromise, this can add visual interest to your overall design.

Often we are asked "how can you tell the difference between a stain and a paint?"  The answer is simple: if you cannot see any grain chances are it has been painted.

Durability. It really comes down to the finish products that are used. We always recommend painted and stained cabinets be finished with a high-quality protective coating. In addition to protecting your cabinets from daily wear and tear, moisture, and the inevitable bumps and scuffs, it will also make it that much easier to clean them. With the right finish, a soft, damp, lint free cloth is all you'll need to keep them looking fresh. You will need to occasionally oil wood cabinets without a protective finish.

Keep in mind that this same finish will make it more difficult to repaint your cabinets down the road. While the internet is full of information about "easy" DIY cabinet repainting, we don't recommend it. It takes a tremendous amount of time, patience, and energy to do the detailed of sanding, priming, and painting necessary for a professional finish.

Humidity. Here is something that isn't discussed enough when it comes to cabinet care and maintenance. Humidity is your cabinets' nemesis. When humidity levels are too low - below about 40% - wood becomes dry, causing it to constrict and split. If humidity levels are too high - above 60% - wood can swell, warp, and split. Use your hood vent whenever you are cooking and speak with an HVAC technician about options for maintaining consistent whole-house humidity.


Solid wood is obviously the winner here, right? This is the most common perception when it comes to comparing between wood and MDF. Wood is seen as this strong and sturdy material while MDF is often viewed as a weak and cheap alternative. The truth is, both have their pros and cons for a kitchen remodel. Despite popular belief, wood is not always the superior choice; in some situations MDF might be the better material.

For homeowners who are building or undertaking home renovations, knowing the difference between the two materials and the features of each is essential. Below, we review both MDF and solid wood, noting the pros and cons of each and the best uses for each material.

Solid Wood

Solid wood has been the primary material for furniture for millennia. For definition purposes, solid wood refers to natural lumber while the term ‘engineered wood’ refers to other types of wood-based materials such as MDF. While solid wood consists of wood only, engineered wood is a mixture of real wood, veneers, fibers, resin and adhesives.

Advantages of Solid Wood

  • Strength and durability – Solid wood is impressively strong and sturdy. If you are looking to buy something that will last for decades, solid wood furniture is perfect. Solid wood is so strong that it has been used all over the world to put up entire buildings and even bridges. Of course, different types of wood have varying levels of strength. For instance, oak is stronger and will last longer than cedar.

  • Aesthetics – In terms of appearance, solid wood is unparalleled in beauty. It has a beautiful grain that results in great looking furniture. If aesthetics and style is a major priority for you, solid wood is, well, a solid choice. But just like strength and durability, different wood types have different aesthetic qualities. For instance, while red oak is stronger than white oak, white oak is more commonly used because it is better looking.

  • Customization – when using solid wood, furniture can be customized in numerous ways including shape, finish and color.

  • Value – furniture made from solid wood tends to have more value than those made from engineered wood, though in some cases MDF furniture can be quite pricey. For homeowners looking to get a better price for their home, adding elements of solid wood can boost up the price tag.

  • Variety – there are numerous types of wood, each differing in strength, cost and look.   You can take a look at our project gallery for an idea of what options you may have for your cabinets. Combine this with the many varieties of stains and finishes and you can find something highly unique for your home.

Disadvantages of Solid Wood

  • Moisture damage – in its unfinished state, wood is not waterproof. While stronger woods such as red oak can withstand constant moisture exposure, most woods will get damaged. To protect the wood, a waterproof finishing usually has to be applied.

  • Warping and cracking – wood tends to expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. The result is a tendency for solid wood furniture to warp or even crack when exposed to temperature and humidity fluctuations. The cracking can be even more noticeable when the wood is painted. With time, wood makers have developed crafting methods and technologies that minimize warping and cracking.

  • Bug infestation – Solid wood is more vulnerable to pest attack than engineered wood. It requires regular maintenance and the right finishing to keep the wood well protected.


For people who prefer a cheaper but still strong alternative to solid wood, there is MDF. What is MDF wood?

MDF is an abbreviation for a type of engineered wood. The full name is Medium-Density Fiberboard. MDF consists of thin panels made from wood fiber, resin and wax. When it comes to engineered wood, MDF is often considered a level above plywood. It is denser, stronger and more durable. For these reasons, it has almost as many applications as solid wood.

Many homeowners tend to look down on MDF with the perception that it performs poorly when measured against solid wood. But as we mentioned in the beginning both solid wood and MDF have their good and bad points. There are situations where MDF is the superior choice.

Before we lay out the pros and cons of MDF, it is important to note that there are varying types of this engineered wood. They vary by density, size, glue type, moisture content, wood species and thickness. The thicker and denser the MDF board is, the costlier it is.

MDF vs Solid Wood: The Verdict

Both types of wood are good and we cannot declare any one of them the ultimate winner. This is because they both have their pros and cons. There are situations where one is better than the other. But when it comes to cabinet doors, we highly recommend MDF. It provides far more benefits than solid wood.

If you are in the process of giving your kitchen an upgrade, consider choosing cabinets with MDF doors. As always, we are here to help with anything. Contact us with any questions and queries on using MDF in your home.

Framed vs. Frameless Cabinets


When choosing cabinets, there are two types of construction to consider: framed or frameless cabinetry. Both provide endless design possibilities and their own unique advantages. Here are some things to consider as you decide which type of cabinet construction is best for you.


American cabinet manufacturers have traditionally built cabinets using a framed construction. In this type of cabinet construction, the rails and stiles form a 1-1/2 inch face "frame" at the front of the cabinet box. This frame resembles a flat picture frame that is attached to the door front, giving added dimension to the door front.


In framed cabinetry, the cabinet doors are secured to the frame, which gives the cabinet strength and sturdiness. Framed cabinets attach the door hinges to the frame face and shelves, and are usually, but not always, adjustable. Partial and full overlay, as well as inset cabinet doors, can be used with framed cabinets, giving you many design possibilities for creating a customized look for your cabinetry.


Frameless cabinet construction is a European way of manufacturing cabinets that has become popular among American homeowners seeking simple, more contemporary cabinet designs. Frameless cabinetry is sometimes called "full access" cabinetry because it offers greater accessibility by eliminating the face frame. Instead, it relies on thicker box construction for stability. Only full overlay doors can be used, with hinges attached directly to the sides of the cabinet box.


In frameless construction, cabinets do not have a face frame attached to the front of the cabinet box. After they have been installed, all you will see are the flat door and drawer fronts, providing a sleek, simple aesthetic that can work with many design themes throughout the home.

Frameless cabinets do not have a center stile coming down in the middle of the two cabinet doors, providing easier access to the items inside, as well as more storage space to work with. The shelves are typically adjustable. Drawers in frameless cabinetry also tend to be larger because of the space saved by not having a face frame attached to the front.


There are several choices to consider when a homebuyer is choosing options for their home, one of which is cabinets. A homebuyer can choose from different styles, colors and wood types. An additional option that homebuyers must also consider is whether they want standard overlay or full overlay cabinets. Often times, a homebuyer has not considered this option and may not understand the difference.

Standard overlay cabinets (also called traditional overlay) tend to be less expensive and do not require hardware because there is enough finger space on the side of the cabinet door or drawer face. They also have more exposed face frame, with at least 1 ¼ inches on all sides of the doors and drawers.

Full overlay cabinets give cabinets a more custom look. They require cabinet hardware because there is only ¼ inch of space between doors and drawers, which can make them difficult to open without hardware. Double door cabinets with full overlay come with an additional benefit. They do not have a vertical face frame stile between the two doors, which allows homeowners to store larger items in the cabinet without having to work around the center stile needed in a standard overlay cabinet.

Elige tu colección

Welcome to Cabinet Gurus Education Center! We understand that buying cabinetry can be stressful. With all the work that goes into building cabinetry and all the options it provides, it can leave you with a ton of questions. We feel that it is important that our clients have as much information as possible when making a decision. So our CABINET GURUS have shared some of what they know to help you with your decision.

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