It’s a great question and it really comes down to what kind of kitchen you want. The short answer comes down to the feel of a great finish under your finger-tips, the durability of the materials used and the flexibility you want in your design. If you only want some boxes to hold your pots and pans, then almost anything would work. However, custom cabinets go far beyond cookie-cutter boxes.
Many big box stores have a limited number of finishes to choose from. If they match your expectations for a finish, then that’s convenient. If not, you will have to compromise. Also, many of the premade cabinet company’s products are prefinished in China. They don’t have the same standards for finishing as a custom cabinet would. Also, the would they use likely comes from China as well, using a different standard for laminating and sometimes using an MDF core instead of real wood. When it comes down to it, you will need to do a lot of research to make sure you’re getting a great, durable finish on your cabinets. One that will last for generations.
As written earlier, not all materials are the same. Some box cabinets don’t even use solid wood, preferring particle board or MDF. Those products just aren’t made to stand up to long-term use like hardwood cabinets would. They aren’t strong like hardwood, they don’t hold a finish like hardwood and don’t even think of getting them wet.
Here, you can see the difference in some of the materials used. Many box cabinets use veneered particle board. It looks alright on the outside, but underneath is a soft core of glued-together particles. If there’s ever a ding or chip, you have to replace the cabinet. Since it’s, it’s likely to show more damage from normal use.
Hardwood cabinets provide a better surface for a harder finish. They resist bumps and scratches and can be repaired, usually fairly easily, if they ever take any damage. And the just feel solid. Like a great piece of furniture.
One of the most common reasons people choose custom cabinets is that they can be tailored to fit their space. The big box companies make standard sized boxes. If your kitchen doesn’t fit their sizes, you have to use spacers to get the fit right. That ends in a clunky looking kitchen.
Custom cabinets use all the available space. They can also add useful features for your cooking needs. Custom drawers for pans or skillets aren’t a problem for custom cabinets. The design and layout process will help you find the best use of your space so that you get to do what you love in your kitchen – cook.