Custom vs Pre-fab, Which One Is Right For You?

Today’s world is all about instant gratification.  We want it and we want it now.  We always seem to be in such a hurry and there are deadlines to meet, we don’t have the time to wait for something to be made specifically for us.  Is this a bad thing?  Not necessarily.  It might mean more work in the long run and it is certainly more budget friendly.  Let’s talk about custom vs pre-fab and my recent experience with a pre-fab marble vanity top for our guest bathroom.

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Custom vs pre-fab, there are good arguments for both.

Custom vs Pre-fab

We all know what off the rack means when we are buying clothes, but do you know the terms used for the things you purchase for your home?  Off the shelf or out of the box are the ones that come immediately to mind.

We can buy almost anything pre made.  Cabinets, counter tops, curtains, sofas, and tables just to name a few.  All out of the box or off the shelf for our convenience (or inconvenience when you have to put it together).  Pre-fab supplies the masses, the DIY’ers and those on a tight budget.


Pre-fab, meaning pre-fabricated,  will not always fit the space exactly.  Cabinets may have to be shimmed, curtains might have to be hemmed (unless you purchase them too short, then back to the store you go), and you may have to settle for a sofa with fabric that is just okay.

I am currently neck deep in the spring One Room Challenge and I am doing our guest bathroom by myself on a tight budget.  I have hated the vanity top in there for years and this challenge was the perfect excuse to change it.

I began my search for a counter top on Lowe’s website.  Imagine my surprise when I found out you can buy pre-fab marble!  Now, it isn’t the real thing.  It is cultured, meaning it is man made, in a mold, using stone particles and resin.  The great thing about this counter top is that it is non porous (unlike the real thing) and requires no sealing and remains low maintenance.  That is a win win for me!

I figured out what size I would need and off to Lowe’s I went.  Of course they didn’t have any in stock and I didn’t have time to wait for one to be ordered (I am on a deadline) so I went on down the road to Menard’s and they had it in stock.

I got it out of the box and put it on the cabinet to see how it was going to look.  If my cabinet wasn’t attached to the side wall it would have been a perfect fit, but because of that the top hangs over about a half inch too much on the right side and not at all the wall side.  UGH!!  I didn’t think of that in my haste to purchase a vanity top.  It still sits level on the cabinet, but I will have to do a bit of work to disguise that extra over hang.

Choosing custom vs pre-fab comes down to time and money in your budget.

This is the downside of pre-fab.  It doesn’t fit like a glove and requires extra work to make it look right.  The upside is that I saved a fortune opting for the pre-fab cultured marble and I could install it myself.

Custom Made

If I had chosen to go with a custom counter for my guest bathroom someone would have come out to the house and measured the area it was going on.  We had that done for our kitchen counters and they use a really cool laser mapping process to ensure the perfect fit.

Those measurements would have been taken back to the manufacturer and in about 4-6 weeks I would have had my vanity top.  It would have cost 3 times as much and put me way over my deadline for this project.  But, the top would have fit like a glove and I wouldn’t have had that over hang issue.

Custom made will ensure that what you put in your space fits your space exactly.  It will cost more, but then end result can be worth it.  It really comes down to how much money you have in your budget.

Custom vanity tops fit like a glove and ensure that it fits your cabinet exactly right.
Photo Credit


Custom vs Pre-fab

So which is better? Custom or Pre-fab?  You can get the same materials either way, unless you want real stone for a counter top.  It all comes down to how much work you want to do and how much money you have in your budget.

Custom made will fit your space like a glove. Pre-fab will require adjustments to make it fit.  Pre-fab is readily available from any big box store.  Custom made will require measuring and time to make to those exact specifications.  Pre-fab will come in standard sizes and colors and you will have to customize it yourself to fit the space.  Custom made will be made to your exact specifications as to the size and finish.  Custom made will be much more expensive.  Pre-fab is budget friendly.

Will you go custom or pre-fab for your next project?  I would love to hear about it in the comments below

Until next time,




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