The Quick Guide to Kitchen Cabinets



You’ve been weighing a kitchen or bathroom remodel for a while. Now, you’re ready to redo the kitchen.

Your first point of attack? Your kitchen cabinets.

Here’s everything you need to know about cabinets, from styles to construction to price.

Types of Cabinetry

First, you should know the types of cabinetry available to you.

There are four types of cabinets, based on the quality of construction:

  • Ready-to-assemble (RTA)
  • Stock
  • Semi-custom
  • Custom

RTA cabinets are the type you can find at IKEA or a similar retailer. You can find these cabinets cheap and they’re easy to put together (assuming you can decipher the scientific diagrams and haiku instructions offered by IKEA). But you get what you pay for–these cabinets are among the least durable.

Stock cabinets are the next step up. They’re budget-friendly and available to buy off the shelf and most home improvement stores. They’re also a bit more durable than RTA cabinets. However, you’re limited in style, color, and size to what’s available on the shelf.

Semi-custom cabinets are mid-range. Whether they fall more on the cheap end or the expensive end depends on the cabinets. You could get made-to-order units from a manufacturer, or you could have stock cabinets with custom doors.

Custom cabinets are the most expensive, but they’re also the nicest. These cabinets are 100% made-to-order and you can get pretty much anything your heart desires.

Types of Wood

Wood is by far the most common material in cabinets. It’s classic, hardy, and stylish. Plus, there are plenty of options to give you exactly the style you want.

Some of the most common types of wood used in cabinets include:

  • Red oak
  • Cherry
  • Hickory
  • Birch
  • Ash
  • Pine

When considering wood, think about the grain and color. You’re not wedded to the original color of a wood cabinet, but once you paint it, you can’t undo it. Stain can replicate the color of a different type of wood, though, so if you can’t afford the wood you want, look into staining options.

Then, there’s the grain. Outside of high-end cabinets, veneered cabinets will almost always give you a better grain-match than solid wood.

And speaking of solid wood, you should consider what construction you want as well. It’s not just an aesthetic choice–it changes how much wood will be required for the project (and thus what the project costs).

Cabinet Construction

There are two types of cabinet construction: framed or frameless.

Most people are accustomed to frame cabinets, which use stiles and rails to frame the front of the cabinet and have a door attached to the frame. You actually have a lot of flexibility design-wise.

Frameless cabinets are popular among American homeowners. The cabinets lack a frame and door, relying instead on sturdier box construction. It’s easier to see everything in the cabinets and easy to grab things.

But keep in mind that frameless cabinets leave your possessions on display for the whole room to see. So unless you’re a minimalist or extremely organized, you may want to think twice.

Finding the Right Kitchen Cabinets for You

Kitchen cabinets take up a lot of visual space in a kitchen. And with a set budget, you want to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want.

If you need more ideas to fuel your remodel, check out these mind-blowing kitchen designs.

About Ben Shepardson

Ben Shepardson is a Realty Biz News Contributing Writer and has a long track record of success in online marketing and web development. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, he worked doing enterprise-level SEO and started an online business offering web development services to small business customers.