Estimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly option or are finally ready to create your dream kitchen, there are kitchen cabinets to fit any home.
Cabinets come in many different shapes, styles, designs, and price points. Two popular kitchen cabinet options are modular or custom.
Both have their unique characteristics and offer different benefits depending on the homeowner’s needs.
At Deslaurier, we have over 40 years of experience manufacturing custom cabinets. In that time, we’ve incorporated our custom cabinets into thousands of homes, ensuring our clients get the customized kitchen of their dreams.
Of course, we also understand that custom cabinets aren’t the solution for everyone.
In this article, we will delve into the features of modular kitchen cabinets and custom cabinets, comparing their design and layout flexibility, cost implications, and installation processes.
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
What are Modular Kitchen Cabinets?
Modular kitchen cabinets are pre-made units (modules) that come in a range of standard sizes, styles, finishes, and accessories. These cabinets are designed to be easily mixed and matched to create a customized kitchen layout.
Not to be confused with stock or semi-custom cabinetry. Although modular cabinets, depending on their manufacturer, are typically closer to semi-custom than they are standard, run-of-the-mill stock cabinetry.
The modular nature of these cabinets allows homeowners to choose from various components, such as base cabinets, wall cabinets, pantry units, and specialized storage options, to fit their specific needs.
Think of them as the LEGO or building blocks of kitchen cabinetry.
Modular Cabinet Design Flexibility
Modular cabinets offer unique flexibility in terms of their ability to fit different layouts and designs.
You can mix and match different modules to create a configuration that suits your kitchen space and storage needs, whether it’s an L-shape or a galley layout. Additionally, if you ever need to expand or remodel your kitchen, you can easily add or replace modules.
Since modular cabinets are made to order and not stock models already assembled, you can choose from a surprisingly wide range of styles, finishes, and materials to match your kitchen decor and personal taste.
This variety allows you to achieve a more customized look than standard stock cabinetry options. It all depends on the manufacturer and how many design selections they offer.
Of course, the design flexibility modular cabinets offer still falls well short of custom cabinetry, which we will detail further below.
Modular Cabinet Cost
Modular cabinets are typically quite affordable since their pieces are mass-produced and readily available.
Since modular cabinets are produced in larger quantities, they benefit from economies of scale, resulting in lower production costs. These savings are passed on to the consumers, making modular cabinets a budget-friendly option.
Additionally, the standardization of sizes and designs reduces manufacturing complexity and keeps costs down.
For those reasons, modular cabinets can be a great option if you're working with a tight budget.
Modular Cabinet Installation
Since modular cabinets arrive fully assembled, their installation process is relatively quick and simple.
This can be advantageous if you're looking for a speedy kitchen renovation or if you need to replace your cabinets urgently.
Further, the nature of modular cabinets lends itself to DIY home-improvement projects. An experienced, proficient DIYer should be able to install their modular cabinets themselves or with the assistance of another person.
What are Custom Cabinets?
As the name suggests, custom cabinetry is custom-built to meet your personal specifications, whatever they may be.
Custom cabinets are made to fit your kitchen precisely, maximizing the use of space and providing a seamless look. Irregular or unique kitchen layouts are better suited for custom cabinets since they can be designed to accommodate any physical challenges or constraints.
When you’re shopping custom, you truly do start with a blank canvas.
Everything, including cabinet materials, size, construction, colour, and finish (including paints and stains and custom colour matches) can be adjusted to suit your taste. Suddenly, oddly shaped corners and exceptionally tall ceilings are a breeze to work around.
Because custom cabinets are designed and built to order on a case-by-case basis, they usually come with the longest lead times. However, since custom kitchen designs are a lengthy process, the long lead times aren’t typically an issue for most projects.
Custom Cabinet Design Flexibility
Because you’re in charge, the style and design of your custom cabinets are ultimately up to you.
With custom cabinets, you have complete control over the design, style, and finishes. You can choose specific features such as pull-out drawers, specialized storage solutions, or unique hardware that cater to your specific needs and preferences. Custom cabinets allow you to create a truly one-of-a-kind kitchen.
Some custom cabinetry is certainly made with the same materials as modular cabinetry, but the difference is you’re not limited to those materials.
Custom cabinetry can be built with whatever material you desire, such as authentic natural wood options like maple, oak, cherry, and walnut, or sought-after engineered materials like thermofoil or acrylic.
You can also choose to add a worn and distressed cabinet finish, or you can opt to double-stack your cabinets or use a bulkhead to extend them to the ceiling. The possibilities are endless.
The potential cabinet combinations easily surpass 20,000!
Cost of Custom Cabinets
Of course, the freedom to personalize your cabinetry comes at a high cost. Custom cabinets will always be more expensive than modular cabinetry.
Custom cabinet prices are challenging to estimate because it all boils down to your individual selections.
For example, cabinets with melamine interiors will be cheaper than authentic wood—this simple selection can add or subtract hundreds, and even thousands, from your final bill.
Prices can fluctuate from $600 to $2500 per cabinet, depending on the materials, finishes, door styles, and accessories you choose. As you can see, it’s a wide range.
In a way, that’s a positive. How much you decide to spend (or not spend) is up to you. When it comes to custom projects, no two kitchens are ever alike!
Custom Cabinet Installation
The benefit of purchasing custom cabinetry is that manufacturers typically partner with professional installation teams.
If you buy modular cabinets, it’s up to you to hire someone (or yourself) to install each unit whereas custom cabinet manufacturers usually offer a more inclusive service with designers and installers on hand.
Further, the cost of installation depends on how the cabinet maker in question operates. At Deslaurier, we price installation fees into our quotes. That way, the customer doesn’t have to worry about extra budgeting.
Always ask your prospective cabinet providers in advance about their installation process.
Modular vs. Custom: What Cabinets Are Right For You?
Deciding between modular kitchen cabinets and custom kitchen cabinets ultimately depends on your budget, timeline, and personal preferences.
If you’re looking for an efficient, budget-conscious solution for a small kitchen, modular cabinets are a great choice.
They’re highly affordable, have the flexibility to be rearranged to fit any layout, and have enough design options to get creative with so it doesn’t feel like a “stock” kitchen.
Conversely, if you want a hands-on design experience to craft your dream kitchen from start to finish, custom cabinets are the way to go.
They offer endless style options, can be personalized perfectly to your kitchen layout and can be equipped with custom cabinet accessories.
If your budget permits, custom cabinets provide the best possible finished product.
Discover Deslaurier Custom Cabinets
Are you looking for a personalized kitchen design to fit your home’s unique needs? You’ve come to the right place!
If you have your eye on custom cabinetry, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets has everything you need. With over 40 years of experience to our name, we provide our clients with a fully customized design process with our talented team of designers.