Having anything customized has a fancy sound to it, but how much of a difference does it really make when it comes to cabinets? There are several factors to consider, with quality being first and foremost. When comparing custom cabinets with ready to assemble cabinets (RTA cabinets) from well-established companies such as Nelson Cabinetry, there aren’t that many differences. First and foremost, the quality is comparable, and RTA cabinets even offer advantages that custom cabinets don’t. Read on to find out what the varying levels of customization are and also how custom cabinets stack up to the competition in terms of quality as well as convenience, sizing, and design.

Differing Levels of Customization

The term “custom” can be misleading and even somewhat confusing, so it’s useful to get into some of the terminology for clarity’s sake. There are different levels of customization, from the custom cabinet maker who will work with you on the selection of the construction materials, style, sizes, and finish. This is by far the priciest option. There are also large companies that feature “custom” cabinets with more limited options and styles than you’d get from a cabinetmaker, but they still carry a hefty price tag. “Semi custom” cabinets are less expensive than customized ones and are prefabricated, meaning they come in the standard cabinet sizes; what distinguishes semi custom cabinetry from stock cabinets is that certain dimensions such as the depth or the size of the drawers can be changed to fit the customers’ needs. Meanwhile, ready to assemble and preassembled cabinets are both prefabricated, and additions such as fillers are used to ensure the right fit.


Now that you have an idea of what types of customization are available, it’s important to emphasize that a higher level of customization does not always mean a higher level of quality! Some semi-custom cabinets have cabinet boxes made of less robust materials such as particle board or fiberboard whereas some RTAs feature boxes made of plywood. Nelson Cabinetry is proud to feature products with steel shelf pins, dovetail drawers, and cam lock assembly. When comparing quality, it really comes down to the company rather than the category of the product itself.


Ready-to-assemble cabinets (RTA cabinets) boast lower costs than custom cabinetry and ship conveniently in flat boxes. Prefabricated cabinets are certainly cheaper but they can be a hassle to ship. What’s more, construction of custom cabinets can take weeks or even months. With prefabricated (stock) cabinets, the product is usually available immediately for shipment. The advantage of RTA cabinets over preassembled ones in terms of shipping is that costs are generally less since the shipments are made in flat boxes. For custom cabinets, there is no shipping since the cabinets are installed right in your kitchen or bathroom, but there’s the added hassle of working around the installation which, like the manufacturing stage for custom cabinets, can also be a lengthy and drawn-out process.

Sizing and Design

One of the great advantages of custom sized cabinets is that you work with a specialized professional who can work with you to determine what will work best with your space. This is especially useful if your kitchen or bathroom has unusual dimensions and it’s not immediately obvious what layout would work best with the visions you have of your remodel. This is a traditional approach to the process of deciding on new cabinets, but fast-forward to the twenty-first century, when we at Nelson Cabinetry can offer our customers a free online kitchen design tool and expert consultation. This makes it possible for buyers to choose from the range of sizes available for kitchen or bathroom. Nelson also offers cabinet filler pieces in three different heights to ensure the ideal fit.

For a project as substantial as a kitchen remodel, it’s always a good idea to get advice from the experts. While most consumers have pretty limited experience with kitchen remodels, the experts know all the ins and outs of the industry and can give you some great tips, whether you have questions about design, cost, or quality.