A Guide to Choosing Your Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets are one of the biggest investments in a new kitchen, and they can often make or break the style of the room. That puts a lot of pressure on you to make the right decision when choosing between cabinets. There’s even more pressure when you’re getting custom cabinets, as you have even more decisions to make, from the style to the material.  That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to give you all the information you need to select the right custom cabinets for your kitchen.

Cabinet MaterialsA Guide to Choosing Your Custom Kitchen Cabinets

What the cabinets are made out of should be one of your first decisions. Solid wood cabinets remain the most popular choice, but there are plenty of other good options available.

Solid Wood

The most popular choice these days for kitchen cabinets is, of course, solid wood. From hickory to red oak, you have tons of options to consider for solid wood. However, keep in mind that solid wood is susceptible to moisture and can warp easily if left unfinished.

Medium Density Fiberboard

MDF is a high-grade, composite material made out of recycled wood fibers and resin. MDF is extremely stable, stands up to heat and humidity, and resists cracking and peeling much better than its solid wood counterpart.


A relatively low-cost material, plywood is said to have a higher resistance to moisture and greater stability than MDF. It’s made by laminating thin layers of wood to each other, with the layers bonded with glue under heat and pressure.


Particleboard is made out of wood particles, and as a result it’s one of the least stable cabinetry materials. New technology, however, has improved the resins that bind the particles, making it more reliable than it’s been in the past.

Stainless Steel

If wood or wood alternatives aren’t what you’re looking for, there’s always stainless steel. This material will give your kitchen a very contemporary feel, and since it doesn’t expand or contract like wood, you don’t have to worry about damage from moisture. It is, however, hard to clean off fingerprints and scratches.

Cabinet Construction

There are two main types of cabinet construction you’ll have to consider: framed and frameless. Here’s a quick breakdown:

Framed Cabinets

These cabinets have, obviously, a frame at the front of the cabinet box, attached to the door. It gives the cabinet extra strength and dimension, as well as flexibility in the types of door mounts you can choose from (see below).

Frameless Cabinets

Again, as the name suggests, frameless cabinets are lack a frame—they rely on a denser box construction instead of a frame for strength and stability. Due to their contemporary style, frameless cabinets have become a bit of a trend in recent years, but they do have drawbacks. Unlike framed cabinets, for instance, you are extremely limited in the type of door mounting, as you can only use full overlay doors.

Cabinet Door Mounting

There are three main types of door mounting: full overlay, partial overlay, and inset. While framed cabinets can use any of these, frameless are restricted to full overlay. Here are the major differences:

Full Overlay

The door covers the entire face of the frame.

Partial Overlay

The door only partially covers the face of the frame, usually exposing 1” to 2”.


The door is set inside the face frame instead of on top like overlay.

Cabinet Door Styles

There are dozens of different cabinet styles to choose from, but here’s a rundown of some of the most popular designs:


Best for country-styled kitchens, beaded doors feature panels with a single or double groove (or “bead”), giving it a striped appearance.

Arched Cathedral

These are shaped like an arched window, either recessed or raised within the door frame, providing a more traditional appearance.


Flat-panel doors, often with a recessed center and simple, clean lines.

Raised Panel

Unlike mission doors, these cabinets have a center that is slightly raised, creating extra detail and depth.


These cabinets are flat-paneled with a recessed center, very similar to mission doors, except they have a narrower frame molding.

Flat Panel

As the name suggests, flat panels are flat, lacking the recessed or raised centers of mission and shaker doors.

Cabinet Hardware

Finally, one of the major things to consider is the type of hardware you put on your cabinets. There are hundreds of styles to choose from, so keep in mind the general style of your kitchen (for example, is it rustic or modern?) and the practicality of the hardware (knobs are generally used for doors and pulls for drawers).

Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to get started on your project. If you’re in the Buffalo-Niagara Area and planning on remodeling your kitchen, then give Ivy Lea Construction a call. We can include new custom cabinets into your remodel that will make your kitchen shine again.