We often hear from clients that they want to have “custom” cabinetry vs. a manufactured brand. We find that most people really don’t understand what a “custom” cabinet really is. Just because a local guy is building the cabinets by hand doesn’t mean it is better that what your local kitchen design studio can offer. Our manufactures are also building the cabinets by hand and below are the biggest differences.
Custom manufacturers have some of the best finishes you can find. The finishes are done in a dedicated finish area with positive airflow (to keep dust out) and they use drying ovens vs. air drying. This creates a much more durable finish that is ultra smooth. These manufacturers also have humidity controlled environments with misters to keep the moisture in the air and the wood. Custom Cabinet and Semi Custom Cabinet manufactures have multi million dollar equipment and finishing systems that are continually checked by on-site reps. In most cases multiple steps are used, paints for example have have a wood sealer, 2 pigmented primer coats and 2 coats of paint and sealer coat that is baked on using halogen drying ovens. Then, each coat is sanded using high end sanding equipment giving it a furniture grade smooth finish that would be nearly impossible to do in a garage. Most manufacturers now have ultra low VOC environmentally friendly and/or water based finishes.
A typical shop either finishes in a small room or in a shop completely exposed to all the dust particles in the air. This type of finishing is not advised as there would be too much debris in the air and there is a real good chance for too much or too little moisture in the wood prior to finishing. A typical shop uses hand sprayers and orbital sanders – which is nowhere near the durability of a cabinet manufacturer. Most local shops don’t have the technology to use environmentally friendly finishes.
Large cabinet manufactures have access to the finest materials that are quality inspected upon arrival. These custom manufacturers also make their own doors and boxes. The air/moisture content is consistently monitored throughout the plant round the clock – this is vital for an inset doors where tolerances are crucial.
Most local shops use multipurpose materials because they can’t purchase enough of the higher grade material to be profitable. Most local shops buy the doors from a pre-made source and put them on their own boxes. Most local shops can’t do inset doors because they can’t get the moisture right and if they do, they end up under sizing the doors which gives it a lower quality look.
Most Custom manufacturers have been in business anywhere from 60-150 years. They usually offer a lifetime warranty and given the time they have been in business you have a good chance they will still be in business when you need help. These large manufacturers have fully dedicated customer service departments that are there to help, given there is any issue.
This can vary from local shop to local shop – Most of them may offer longer warranties, but how long has the shop been in business and will they still be around when there is an issue? Even if they are still around what happens if they have to match finish – without the technology that the larger manufacturers have- it would be impossible for them to match the finish.
Now after reading this – it may sound as though we don’t believe in the local guy, and when it comes to an entire kitchen – we stand behind the custom/semi custom manufacturer. At SKD Studios we have hand selected our cabinet lines based on all of the above and we believe that they offer the best of both worlds. We can create them in custom sizes and any finish imaginable. We also use local cabinet shops when it comes to built in book cases and hall trees. Make sure to stop by the studio to see our wide range of cabinet lines and samples. Call us today to have one of our designers create the kitchen of your dreams. We are excited to be opening up our new studio in Newport Beach, California and look forward to meeting you.
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