Formerly known as "bare bones" cabinetry, stock cabinets no longer offer only the bare minimum. While prices largely remain tailored for the budget-conscious, stock manufacturers now provide luxurious options previously exclusive to custom cabinets.
"Stock manufacturers have recognized that kitchens make a fashion statement and that cabinets are no longer a commodity," says Connie Edwards, CKD, CBD, director of design for American Woodmark Corp. "The number of decorative accessories such as furniture feet, onlays and moldings keeps increasing, but there have also been big changes in stock cabinet construction as well.
"Dovetail drawers and full-access undermount glides are almost a given in the better stock offerings. Some modifications are even available, including matching interiors for open or glass door cabinets, reduced and increased cabinet depths and a plywood side option. Specialty finishes like glazes used to be considered custom or semi-custom, but they too have entered the stock arena."
Stock cabinets are constructed prior to purchase. The manufacturer does not build them to your unique specifications, so all sizes meet industry standards. Stock cabinetry widths begin at 9 inches and increase in 3" increments to 48", the largest standard stock size available. Some stock companies also offer half-sized cabinets (13½", 19½", etc.). Your kitchen's dimensions may not correspond exactly to the available increments. To accommodate sizes outside of the 3-inch increments, you'll need to use filler strips to close any gaps between the cabinet and walls or appliances.
Expect limited wood species, door styles, accessories and finish selections. However, to counteract the lack of available modifications, the woods, door styles and finishes that manufacturers choose tend to be the most popular. Purchasing stock doesn't mean settling for an outdated look.
Check out what you're getting beyond the cabinet. The manufacturer should offer a good warranty that can be extended or transferred to the next homeowner if you plan to sell. Also, make sure that touch-up and repair materials accompany your shipment or can be easily ordered.
Stored in the manufacturer's warehouse, stock cabinets are usually available within one week of being ordered.
"Sometimes when a customer wants a great deal of customization and ornamentation on stock cabinets, the price difference between stock, semi custom, and custom is minimal, because the cost of installation is driven up for all the custom pieces to be installed on the job site." —Jean Buchen, CKD, K T Highland, Inc., Lancaster, PA
Usually available within one week
Limited number of cabinet sizes to choose from
Generally, no modifications are permitted
Wasted space because of fillers