Have you ever seen a set of built-ins that had extra trim where it met the wall? Did it have lots of
seams? Or maybe it just looked “off”? These can all be avoided with custom cabinets.
In this article I’ll go through some of the biggest differences between handcrafted custom cabinets and
builder grade factory cabinets.
1. The sizes
Right off the bat the biggest advantage of custom cabinets vs factory cabinets is the literally unlimited
options when it comes to size. Many factory cabinets come in standard widths usually increasing by
increments of three inches. For example, you can get factory cabinets in 12”, 15”, 18”, up to 42” wide.
Some manufacturers allow you can get different widths, for a fee of course.
Imagine you want to fill a 53” wide opening with three equal sized cabinets. No matter how you break it
down, factory cabinets will not fit right. You’ll be left with extra wide, ugly fillers on each end.
Custom cabinets can be built to fit exactly in a 53” wide opening with no unnecessary fillers.
2. Lots of seams
Factory cabinets are mass produced. They are made as individual cases with each cabinet in a run being
separate from its neighbor. This means that wherever two cabinets come together you have a joint.
Depending on the style and finish of cabinet, these seems may be slightly visible or very obvious.
With custom cabinets, each series of cabinets is built as a single unit. There may be 3 or 4 or even more
cabinets in a single run. Due to the way they are constructed, the face frame is one solid piece. You will
not have unsightly vertical black lines between all of your cabinets. The only limit to the length of a run
is whether it can fit through the door!
3. Extra trim
When contractors install a small moulding to cover the gap between a cabinet and a wall, this is called a
scribe moulding. These scribe mouldings are used when factory cabinets don’t quite fit the opening.
Scribe moulding can cover a gap up to 5/8” wide. Many carpenters also use scribe moulding to make
installation easier. Allowing yourself to have gaps between the cabinet and the wall eliminates the need
to scribe the cabinet to the wall.
Scribing is the process of “tracing” the shape of the wall to the side of the cabinet. Walls are almost
never perfectly flat due to the nature of home construction. Many older houses can have bows and
humps exceeding 1/2"! Instead of covering the 1/2" gap with moulding, custom cabinets can be scribed
to fit the wall perfectly.
Eliminating scribe moulding provides a cleaner, more professional look. It reminds people that this
cabinet is one of a kind built just for this location.
I hope you have found this article useful. There are many more differences between factory and custom
cabinets which we’ll cover later. For more articles on cabinetry and millwork, click here. If you want to
talk to us about a project in your home, contact us here.