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Kitchen Cabinet Types: The Ultimate Kitchen Cabinet Handbook [Essential Guide]

Sleek modern kitchen with natural wood door panels.
Modern kitchen with wood finishes

Master kitchen cabinet types and make the right choice. Dive into the ultimate handbook for a smarter kitchen cabinet shopping experience.

Before you buy your kitchen for your remodel, read this essential guide! We unravel the complexities of cabinet types. Uncover differences between Custom vs. Semi-custom vs. stock, and their pros and cons. Learn about construction styles, kitchen cabinet categories & popular door styles. Make your kitchen remodel project a breeze with this must-read guide!

Table of Contents:


3 Main Kitchen Cabinet Types

When you are looking for new cabinets, you must choose between the 3 main kitchen cabinet types. You can group them by considering several factors. We classify and group them based on factors such as:

  • their level of completion when delivered.

  • the range of available styles and cabinet options,

  • customization options,

  • lead time & costs.

All types of cabinetry offer you different levels of choice to fit your needs.

Stock vs. Semi-custom kitchen cabinets vs. custom cabinets
Overview: Types of kitchen cabinets

Stock Cabinets | Ready-to-Assemble (RTA):

RTA cabinets are pre-manufactured and available to you for immediate purchase or pickup. IKEA kitchen cabinets are a great example of stock cabinets. They are like preassembled ones, but they come in flat crates. Once picked up, you must assemble the cabinet parts at your place. Note, that they offer a narrower range of design options with limited cabinet types. Your design style choices are more straightforward. Further, limited customization can make adapting cabinets to your space challenging. Yet, they are an affordable option for low-budget projects.

Semi-custom cabinetry | pre-assembled cabinets:

Semi-custom cabinets provide a wide product range with their kitchen systems. Within the system, you can choose from many cabinet types and standard sizes. Further, you find a wide variety and range of kitchen design styles as well as cabinet choices. You will need to wait a couple of weeks to a few months until you get your quality cabinet. They are not stock items the manufacturer will fabricate them for you. Once they arrive, they are already pre-assembled. This makes the installation easier for you. You will have limited options for customization and out-of-system solutions. Yet, some high-end kitchen brands may offer you more flexible customization options. The costs vary depending on the cabinet quality, materials & craftsmanship. You will find affordable as well as high-end brands with a broad price range. Do your research on the different kitchen brands but prepare yourself to pay a premium.

Custom kitchen cabinets

Custom Cabinetry offers limitless design flexibility, cabinet & style options. Manufacturers craft tailored to your unique needs and style preferences. The cabinet maker may use prefabricated kitchen cabinet boxes with a preset cabinet size as a base for their work. Using them can save time and cost in the manufacturing process. Yet, they get customized to meet your specific design, size, and style requirements. Since the kitchen is tailored to fit your space, it can take weeks or even months to craft. The costs can vary depending on the quality of craftsmanship and material choice. Consider your custom cabinetry options and choices.

Which type is the better choice?

Comparing stock, semi-custom, and custom cabinets, you may wonder which option is best. Well, it all depends on your specific needs and budget. There's no universal answer. It's important to explore different price points and quality levels. This way you get a better idea of what you need and want. Both, the Price Ranges and Quality can vary significantly. Especially within semi-custom and custom cabinets. You should always inspect them firsthand to check the quality. Here's a summary of the pros and cons of each type:

Overview on the advantages and disadvantages of the different Types of Cabinets.
Pro's & Con's: Types of Kitchen Cabinets


2 Cabinet Building Techniques

Navigating the world of kitchens can be confusing with all the jargon. You may have encountered terms like frameless and framed cabinets. But what about the distinctions between European and American styles? Or you might wonder, what is the difference between full-overlay and half-overlay cabinets? It can get overwhelming. Let's simplify it and explain these terms.

Frameless Cabinets (European Style):

Frameless cabinets are synonymous with European-style cabinets. Popular Cabinets with this style are German Kitchen. They feature overlay cabinet doors. With this style, the door covers the cabinet complete box. The full overlay option creates a seamless look and maximizes interior space.

Framed Cabinets (American Style):

Framed cabinets, often known as the American style. They incorporate decorative objects as a visual component. Opting for this look you can add a classic touch to your kitchen. It is often used to create traditional cabinet styles and rustic kitchens. You will find 2 basic types of overlay styles:

  • Inset Cabinets or Flat Inset: The cabinet face frame is flush with the door.

  • Partial Overlay or Half Overlay: The cabinet door sits on top of the cabinet frame.

Graphic of different cabinet building methods: Cabinet frame with Inset drawer fronts & inset doors vs. frameless cabinets
Overview: Kitchen cabinet Style | Frame vs. Frameless

Which Construction type is the better choice?

When choosing between European and American-style cabinet construction, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. The quality of craftsmanship and cabinet materials is crucial in determining which is better for you. It's essential to consider your desired design outcome too. Each style has its merits.

For more in-depth insights:

  • Plywood vs. Particle Board: Learn about the differences between these materials. Read more.

  • 8 Things to Consider When Choosing Kitchen Cabinets: Get a comprehensive guide for selecting the right cabinets. Read more.

  • German Kitchen Brands: Quality Kitchens Made in Germany - Explore the world of German kitchen brands. Read more. Also: Delve into the value of German kitchens. Read more.

Ultimately, it's about finding the perfect fit for your kitchen and your needs.


Kitchen Cabinet Categories

Setting up your kitchen, you should know the different types of cabinets available. Here's what you need to know:

  1. Base Cabinets: This type of kitchen cabinet sits on the floor and offers essential storage.

  2. Upper Cabinets: Wall cabinets are a type of cabinet that is mounted on the wall. They provide storage at eye level.

  3. Tall Cabinets: Pantry cabinets offer extra storage space for pantry items and more. Further, they can provide housing for your appliances such as oven or microwave.

  4. Corner Cabinets: Clever solutions for making the most of corner spaces.

  5. Drawer Types: Explore different drawer types for efficient organization.

Each category has its unique advantages and uses. To explore more about their dimensions, check out our guide for standard base cabinets and more in-depth insights: How Deep Are Kitchen Cabinets: The Ultimate Size Guide. Consider reading our blog post to learn how to design a functional kitchen set up.


Popular Kitchen Cabinet Door Styles

Influence the look and feel of your kitchen with your kitchen cabinet fronts. Here's a breakdown of some popular cabinet styles and options:

Recessed Panel (Inset, also called Shaker cabinets):

This timeless style features a simple, clean design with a recessed center panel. It's versatile and works well in various kitchen settings, from traditional to contemporary. It is a popular style among homeowners.

Shaker kitchen with flat center panels create transitional styles as well as traditional styles.
Shaker-style cabinets

Flat Panel:

Flat panel cabinets are a great choice for contemporary and modern kitchens. Flat panel doors have a sleek, minimalist appearance. They create a seamless and streamlined look.

Modern kitchen with white flat panel cabinet doors.
Kitchen Cabinet doors without frames


Beadboard doors have a charming, cottage-like appeal. They feature vertical grooves or "beads" on the panel. Those add texture and character to the cabinetry.

Cottage kitchen design with vertical grooves " Beadboard" in door panels
Beadboard Cabinet

Raised Panel:

These doors have a raised center panel, giving them a classic and elegant look. Raised panel doors are often seen in traditional kitchen designs.

White kitchen with a framed cabinet door.
Raised-panel cabinet style

Louvered kitchen cabinets:

Louvered cabinet doors have horizontal slats, like window blinds. They provide a unique and distinctive look. It is perfect for a coastal or cottage-style kitchen.

Wooden kitchen doors with horizontal slats.
Kitchen with Louvered doors

Glass Cabinets:

A Glass panel adds an elegant touch to kitchens. Glass-front cabinets are a popular choice that allows you to display prized dishes and glassware with style.

White traditional kitchen with framed glass doors.
Glass-front cabinet doors

Ask yourself which aesthetic you want to achieve. This way you will find the right fit for your design wishes. Each style has its own charm and comes in a range of Materials. They can transform your kitchen into a space that reflects your personal style.


Do you need help?

Ready to transform your dream kitchen into a reality? Reach out to Kitchen Design NYC today! Our skilled kitchen designers and convenient online design services are here to support your project. Let us bring your vision to life. Get started today!

Learn more about Kitchen Designer & Online Kitchen Design here:


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