Custom Cabinetry 101: The Basics You Need to Know!

When starting a new home project many take their first step on their computers. If you are planning a kitchen remodel, doing some online research about products such as tile, flooring, and cabinetry can be super beneficial when you’re just starting out. The only problem is that researching a broad topic like cabinetry will fill your browser with articles that have a wide range of contrasting advice and opinions. Whose opinion will you ultimately trust? More importantly, how will you separate opinion from fact?

Here at Studio M, we believe the best way to design a space you love is to have straightforward, unbiased, information that will help you make the right choices for you and your project.  That’s why we’re calling today’s blog “Custom Cabinetry 101: the Basics you Need to Know!”

What is custom cabinetry?

The word custom is defined as “made especially for individual customers; dealing in things so made, or doing work to order”, so in other words “custom” means cabinetry is designed and built to suit a specific situation/space for a specific customer/client in a specific home or office.

For example, cabinet lines like Dura Supreme are customizable down to 1/16th of an inch to meet the exact needs of virtually any design or project.


Dura Supreme Factory

Shop Made vs. Factory Made

Custom cabinets may be crafted and finished in a shop or in a factory. We are going to break down the pros and cons to each!

  Modern European Kitchen

Factory-Made Advantages

  • There is typically greater control over the quality and supply of wood and other building materials in factory-made cabinetry, including management of the moisture content in the wood. This makes a difference in the overall quality, consistency, performance, and value of cabinetry.
  • Finishes applied in a factory are catalyzed, or “baked” on. This enhances durability and greatly reduces chipping and scratching.

Shop-Made Advantages

  • The benefit to shop-made cabinets is that the cabinet can be adjusted on site to perfectly accommodate any site changes or unforeseen circumstances.
  • With shop-made cabinets, the finish is applied on site, so the installer can adjust the finish if necessary.

  Bloom Project

Framed vs. Frameless

Framed Cabinets have a face frame around the box of the cabinet and a door that overlaps or overlays on the frame.

The benefit to framed cabinetry is that it offers three different overlay door styles to select from: Standard (or partial) overlay, Full Overlay, or Inset. The door covers the face frame of the framed cabinets leaving a reveal around the door.  The term overlay refers to how much of the face frame remains visible when the door is closed.

          Framed                                  Frameless

Frameless cabinets offer more accessibility than framed cabinets since there is no inside edge of a frame projecting into the opening of the cabinet. This allows easier access to the interior of the cabinet to maximize storage space and accommodate larger platters and cookware. The larger opening in frameless cabinetry also allows for a wider drawer box compared to framed cabinets of the exact same width.

Dura Supreme (Framed)

Wonderfully Walnut (Frameless)

All frameless cabinets have a full overlay door style. The full overlay of a frameless cabinet completely covers the entire box, leaving only a 2mm reveal. This creates a sleek, seamless appearance, making it a popular choice for modern, transitional, and contemporary styled kitchens.

Solid Wood vs. MDF

Advantages of solid wood:

  • Strong and durable and will last for decades.
  • In terms of appearance, solid wood is unmatched in its allure. It has an attractive grain that results in great looking cabinets.
  • Cabinets can be customized in shape, finish, and color.
  • There are many species of wood to choose from, each differing in strength, appearance, and cost.

Disadvantages of solid wood:

  • Potential for moisture damage. Most solid woods are susceptible to water and moisture damage, especially when they are unfinished.
  • Potential for warping and cracking. Solid woods expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity.


Studio M Showroom

What is MDF?MDF is composite material made from recycled wood particles that are mixed with a resin binder.

Advantages of MDF:

  • Stable and won’t crack or warp.
  • Resistant to environmental changes. Stands up to humidity better than solid wood.
  • Free of wood blemishes. No knots or wood grain patterns.
  • Provides a smooth finish when painted.
  • Cheaper than solid wood.
  • Durable and as long-lasting as wood.

Disadvantages of MDF:

  • Can’t be used outdoors. Can’t withstand extreme temperatures without damage.
  • Compared to wood, MDF is considered less strong.
  • Easily scratched. MDF is susceptible to scratches, dents, dings and other damage.
  • Can’t be repaired. Once MDF gets scratched, it can’t be repaired. This is unlike wood that can be sanded down to eliminate any damage on the surface.

Keep in mind that not all cabinets are the same…

There are certain strengths to every cabinetry line. We encourage you to research the products you are interested in so that you can make the best choice for your project and your budget.

Some elements to consider are:

  • Type of cabinetry (framed or frameless)
  • Wood species
  • Finishes
  • Door styles
  • Customization
  • Overall quality of the product

Once you’ve determined what cabinetry elements are most important to you, your kitchen & bath designer will set you up with the cabinet company best suited for your specific project. 


Dura Supreme

Is the person designing your cabinets an expert in cabinetry?

A designer who is specifically trained in cabinetry will have the knowledge and experience to provide you with the best cabinetry for your home and your lifestyle. In addition, that person will be able to troubleshoot any problems that may arise during the design and installation process.

Click here to check out our blog on what to look for in a quality designer worth hiring.


Bloom Project 

Additional things to consider…

  • Construction is also based on the thickness of the back and side panels. You want ½” to ¾” sides and nothing less than a ½” back.
  • Check the number and spacing of shelf holes. Some cabinet manufacturers only drill holes for shelves in the middle of the cabinets. If you want maximum flexibility, you will want shelf holes all the way from top to bottom.

We hope this blog serves as a guide as you embark on your next project and taught you a little something along the way. To learn more about custom cabinetry or to start a project with Studio M, contact us!


Alice Carroll says

Thanks for the tip that custom kitchen cabinets made in a factory can have a lot more durability. I’d like to look for new ones for my kitchen soon because I’m interested in decluttering the place. I have a lot of kitchen appliances that I don’t use much that will need to be stored away to make the room look neat.

mingleteam says

Alice, we are happy you found our blog valuable! Let us know if you need cabinetry and design assistance. We are here to help!


Anna Collins says

I’ll be renovating my kitchen next month to make it look fresher and more modern, and I’m considering getting custom-made cabinets while I’m at it. I appreciate your recommendation when you said frameless cabinets offer more flexibility and easier access while maximizing storage space. I’ll take note of this and consider getting them once I find a contractor for my custom cabinetry soon.

Elina Brooks says

I wanted to give my kitchen a makeover next month, so I’ve decided to get new cabinets installed as well to match the new appearance of the room. I’m glad you told us that shop-made cabinets allow adjustments to perfectly accommodate site changes or unforeseen circumstances during installation. I’ll take note of this while I get a contractor for custom kitchen cabinets soon.

Elle Jones says

Thank you for the advice that factory-made bespoke kitchen cabinets can be far more durable. I’d want to soon hunt for new ones for my kitchen to organize the space. To keep the area tidy, I will need to store several kitchen appliances I don’t use frequently.

Elle Jones says

To give my kitchen a fresher, more contemporary look, I’ll be remodeling it next month, and I’m thinking about getting custom cabinets as well. I value your advice when you said that frameless cabinets maximize storage space while providing more flexibility and ease of access. I’ll remember this and give them some thought once I soon hire a contractor to build my custom cabinets.

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