Kitchen cabinet quality is essentially a function of the materials, construction methods, finish and craftsmanship used in the cabinet-making process. There's variability in all of these ingredients which results in a corresponding range of cabinet quality.
What Exactly Is 'Quality'?
Before we get too far into the subject of cabinet quality, it will probably help to get a firmer understanding of just what that term means. "Quality" is something that's hard to pin down because at its root, it's subjective. One person's view of good quality may be another's interpretation of just "fair" or even "poor" quality. However, everyone of us still knows 'good quality', (whatever it means to us), when we see it.
You've no doubt looked at a product of some sort that you felt either demonstrated good quality or it didn't. Being specific about what it was that brought you to that conclusion is a harder task however. In the end it was probably because it either "looked" a certain way (sturdy, good attention to detail, no flaws) or if you actually bought and used the product, it met or exceeded your expectations in some way. Maybe it lasted longer than you expected or performed it's job with no hiccups.
Kitchen cabinet quality is no different. You'll encounter a range of materials and methods of assembly and in the end, you'll have to judge whether the product meets your quality standards.
What we hope to point out here are the important characteristics that define kitchen cabinet quality and the variation within the quality spectrum.
What To Look For In Kitchen Cabinet Quality
To start with you might be asking "Aren't there any standards that define good quality?" The answer is yes, there are some standards established within the industry but they're not "rules" that must be complied with like airlines that must conform to FAA regulations.
The KCMA, a cabinet industry trade organization, has established criteria that must be met in order to meet their certification requirements. However KCMA certification is elective and the lack of it doesn't imply poorer quality. At a minimum it gives you some baseline for the level of quality and durability a particular certified cabinet line has achieved or that other cabinet products can be compared to.
Beyond that there's also some basic common-sense standards associated with cabinet quality that will help you discern between better and poorer kitchen cabinet quality. This gets back to the point about 'knowing quality when you see it'. For example, thicker materials will be sturdier than thinner materials or construction techniques like dovetail joints are more durable than glued butt joints. But despite those characteristics that are plain and obvious, there are others that you might not be aware of like cabinet box reinforcement variations and drawer slide ratings.
So what should you be looking for to discern good cabinet quality? Focus on what the the basic components like the cabinet box, drawers and shelves are made from and how they're assembled. Also pay attention to the finish, how it's applied and the coatings that are used.
So read on! Hopefully in the end you'll have a good understanding of the range of kitchen cabinet quality and which attributes are better than others.
Cabinet Box Material And Construction
In their most basic form cabinets are nothing more than boxes that are made in varying sizes and of different materials. However that's where the similarities end. How these boxes are held together and the materials they're made from vary among manufacturers and even among product lines at any given manufacturer.
When it comes down to the materials that make up the box, there's debate over which is best because it depends what "best" means to the individual. Consider the options: solid wood (for face frames), plywood, particle board and medium density fiberboard (MDF).
Some cabinets also use a material called 'hardboard' for floors and cabinet back panels.
The material cabinets are made from is important because it plays a key role in the durability, longevity and quality of service the cabinets provide. Material properties such as rigidity, screw holding power and susceptibility to moisture and humidity will vary based on the material used in the cabinet's construction.
Less preferable are smaller, thinner reinforcing pieces made from particle board and stapled or just glued in place.
Some cabinet manufacturers make corner gussets from plastic. Thick, substantial plastic that is securely fastened to the side panels is preferable over flimsy plastic parts. Here again, your eye can usually spot the superior products over the inferior ones (keep asking yourself, "does it look/feel solid or flimsy?").
Larger corner gussets are more effective than smaller ones because they 'reach out' and support more of the cabinet walls that they're attached to. This does a more effective job in keeping the panels square and rigid, particularly as the size of the cabinet box gets bigger.
In a broad sense, better, more durable cabinet boxes possess:
Your cabinets end up holding a substantial amount of weight from stacked dishes to canned goods. The shelves that directly support that weight rely on the brackets attached to the sides of the cabinet box. Thinner panels might bow or twist, particularly if they're not reinforced in some way.
The thickness of typical cabinet box side panels varies by manufacturer and product line. Thicknesses you'll see are 3/8, 1/2, 5/8 or 3/4 inch thick. Back panels range from 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Thicker panels provide more rigidity.
For comparison purposes take a look at the relative thicknesses of these typical materials used in cabinet construction. As you can see there's a significant variation among them.
The 1/8" hardboard on the left is used in some cabinets for the back panel. Typical cabinet box side panels are made from 1/2" stock with available upgrades to thicker material.
Drawer And Drawer Slide Construction
Cabinet drawers work hard because they hold a lot of the everyday items we use such as cooking and eating utensils. Because they're opened and closed frequently they take more of a beating than some of the other cabinet components. Better drawer construction means more durable and longer lasting drawers.
Cabinet drawers aren't complicated and there's just a few points to focus on. Pay attention to how the drawer box is constructed and the kind of slides they're mounted on.
Drawer Box Construction
Joint Construction - methods of construction involve dovetailed joints, doweled or rabbet joints, glue and staples or a combination of these.
Dovetailed joints are the most durable (provided they're tight with no gaps or looseness). Doweled and rabbet joints are next down the line with the glued/stapled joints at the lowest end of the quality spectrum.
Box Material - drawer box materials (for wood-based cabinets) include solid wood, MDF, plywood or particle board or a combination of these materials. This is one location where solid wood is still fairly common in cabinet construction. Solid wood combined with good joinery results in the strongest drawer box. This is due to the inherent superior qualities of solid wood over particle board such as screw holding capability and resistance to moisture. (Despite your best efforts, someday you'll end up spilling some sort of liquid into an open drawer.)
Bottom Thickness, Material and Retention - thicker bottom panels are better than thinner ones because the bottom panel supports the weight of the drawer contents. You'll see thicknesses ranging from 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch (keep in mind that 1/2 inch is 4-times thicker than 1/8 inch).
Drawer bottoms that are dadoed into the 4 sides of the cabinet box represent good construction because it 'captures' the drawer bottom.
Much less durable methods involve just stapling and/or gluing the bottom panel to the drawer box.
Slide Material - slides and their various parts are made from metal, plastic, nylon or a combination of these materials. Look at the rolling elements (the rollers or parts that actually allow the slide to move back and forth) and how the slide is attached to the back of the cabinet.
Stronger more durable slides will use roller mechanisms that have steel ball bearings and have metal attachment fittings where they fasten to the cabinet box.
Plastic and nylon attachments and rollers will be less durable than metal.
Load Rating - the load rating defines the amount of weight the drawer slides can support, which includes the weight of the drawer itself. Typical cabinet drawer slides are rated at 75 to 100 lbs. capacity. The higher capacity slides will handle more weight. Wider drawers or large pull-outs like recycling centers may require slides with a higher load rating.
Mounting Location - drawer slides are mounted on the sides (sidemount) or under the drawer (undermount). Sidemount slides result in a narrower drawer and less interior space for a given cabinet width compared to undermount slides because of the room the slides occupy on the side of the drawer.
While this isn't necessarily a durability issue as it relates to quality, having more drawer space by using undermount slides is usually preferable over a smaller drawer. Higher-quality cabinet lines use undermount drawer slides over side-mount slides.
Extension and Adjustability and Special Features - slides are classified by how far they allow the drawer to extend. They can be 3/4 extension, full extension and over-travel.
Full extension and over-travel slides allow the drawer to be pulled all the way out (or past all the way for over-travel drawers) which affords access to the entire drawer all the way to the back.
With 3/4 or "normal" extension a portion of the drawer remains inside the cabinet. You'll have to bend over to see or fish out the contents in the back. The lower the drawer is on the cabinet, the more inconvenient this gets.
Adjustable drawer slides are another good feature to have. They allow the drawers to be realigned in height and side-to-side as needed should they go out of alignment over time due to wear or shifting.
Better quality drawer slides also include added features such as soft-close action which causes the drawer to close itself once it's pushed past a certain point.
Shelf Thickness, Retention And Adjustability
Thickness And Material
Despite their simplicity the shelves are another key component in your cabinets because they carry the major part of the load within the cabinet. Thickness and material choice are the important factors since they govern both the rigidity and strength of shelf.
Plywood and solid wood are the best choices for shelf material as they provide better rigidity than MDF or particle board for a given thickness and shelf span.
Obviously the thicker the shelf, the more rigid and less prone to sagging it will be. Also, shelves that have a reinforcing strip made from solid wood or plywood attached to the front edge or underneath are more rigid than shelves without this feature.
How a load is place on a shelf will determine it's strength and resistance to sagging. In the case of kitchen cabinets the load is the 'stuff' you store on the shelves like dishes and food items.
Don't underestimate the weight of some of these items - lift your entire stack of dinner plates sometime to get a feel for what your cabinet shelves experience. The weight of a stack of plates, bowls or canned goods can add up pretty quickly and the closer to the center of the shelf you store them the more strength that shelf will need.
In general, shelf thicknesses range from 1/2 to 5/8 to 3/4 inch. The thicker 3/4 inch shelves are the preferable option based on their increased rigidity over thinner shelves.
If you work with a custom manufacturer you should be able to specify whatever thickness you want. They should also be able to guide you on the best thickness for a given span length. Although most cabinet shelves top out at 3/4 inch thick, don't hesitate to go thicker on a custom cabinet if you need the extra support.
Retention And Adjustability
Adjustable shelves are obviously more versatile than fixed shelves. Good quality cabinets will have adjustable shelves or at least more of them than fixed shelves. For adjustable shelves make sure you're satisfied with the clips that hold up the shelf. Metal clips are sturdier than plastic clips.
Shelves need to be strong but so does the hardware that holds them up. Look for metal supports rather than plastic. Also, look for supports that appear "right-sized" for the shelf span. There's no hard and fast rule here but brackets with a longer "reach" under the shelf are better than small ones, provided they're made from a solid material appropriate for their size.
Note the small size of these shelf-holding pins in the picture on the right. Wider shelves and heavier loads might tax brackets of this size. The way the brackets are held into the cabinet sides is also important. Long shelves that support more weight put a heavier load on the brackets.
Brackets that are just pins inserted into a hole in the cabinet sides aren't as durable as shelf standards.
Shelf standards are metal channels that are attached to the inside walls of the cabinet box that accept metal clips to support the shelves. In some designs they're recessed inside a dado cut into the cabinet wall.
They may be a bit more obtrusive looking but they offer a sturdier alternative than small pins pressed into a hole in the side panels of the cabinet.
A good quality finish not only makes your wood cabinets look nice but it also goes a long way in protecting your investment. Why is that? Well, consider the environment your cabinets operate in.
Have you ever had boiling pasta or lobster on the stove? Or maybe you have a stove-top grill. There's lots of moisture, greases, and temperature changes that occur in a hard-working kitchen. That's not to mention the many times the drawers and cabinet doors are opened and closed or leaned on with dirty or greasy hands. Then there's the occasional spill of vinegar or ketchup down the front of the cabinet door. A good quality cabinet finish will go a long way in making sure your cabinets aren't phased by this onslaught.
Elements Of A Quality Finish
Look for the following components in a quality cabinet finish:
Catalyzed varnish or lacquer - a catalyzed varnish or lacquer has properties that enhance the durability of the coating beyond non-catalyzed varnish/lacquer. These qualities allow it to weather the harsher environment that kitchen cabinets are subjected to. Non-catalyzed coatings aren't as durable and will be more susceptible to damage.
Note: you may see references to 'conversion' varnish or catalyzed conversion varnish. This is also a durable coating material.
High-solids content - a finish, usually a varnish, with a high solids content provides more protection for the underlying wood and stain. "High solids" means that there's actually more solid 'particles' within the coating system. Those solids help to build up the coating thickness which ultimately provides a durable shield over the material underneath.
UV protection - finishes and coatings that include constituents that resist fading from ultraviolet light are desirable over those that don't. Cabinets in a sunny kitchen will be exposed to fading from the UV light present in the sunlight.
Regardless of who you buy your cabinets from make sure you understand what they're finishing process entails. Good wood finishing, particularly when using coatings like a catalyzed varnish, requires knowledge, tools and the right conditions to achieve a quality result.
Think that all kitchen drawers are made alike? Well think again! Dovetail drawers offer many benefits that regular drawers just can’t match, continue reading to find out just what these benefits are!
Dovetail drawers require a different type of construction than standard kitchen cabinet drawers, and are usually regarded as a higher quality drawer option for homeowners. The difference between dovetail drawers and other, more traditionally constructed drawers, lies within the type of joint used in dovetail drawers.
The type of joint constructed for dovetail drawers is known as a ‘locking joint’. The dovetail ‘locking joint’ is constructed from wedge-shaped channels cut into the wood, that interlock with one another from either side of the drawer, creating a box. The wedge-shaped pieces are called ‘tails’ and ‘pins’, and provide a very strong joint that is quite resistant to force once the two sides are assembled.
The dovetail joint is so strong that oftentimes when a drawer breaks, it is not at the point of the joint. Not only is the ‘locking joint’ itself strong, but the joint’s surface is large enough to offer an unusually large area for gluing. Glue is stronger than wood, and therefore the more space that is available for gluing allows for an even stronger drawer box.
Due to the construction of the joint, dovetail drawers also offer the largest storage space. British dovetail drawers, which are the type we have been talking about, allow for the largest possible drawer, regardless of the type of furniture. French dovetail drawers are a proper choice for specialty furniture, like pieces with curved fronts. Joints on French dovetail drawers are constructed slightly different, with the drawer side sliding upward into a long groove at the drawer’s front.
The advantages of dovetail drawers are in the construction of their joints. They offer a stronger drawer, with a larger holding capacity. While these drawers are associated with a higher quality drawer, this is not always the case. There are many options for drawer construction, and picking the correct drawers for your kitchen cabinets should include strength and storage.
Nobody likes the sound of banging cabinet doors and drawers. And while you can’t do anything about the nuisance caused by these during the rush hour at lunchtime in your local diner, there is a way you can rule this out at home.
You may have heard the terms “self-closing” and “soft-closing” before, but they are not the same. Self-closing systems operate on a spring-like mechanism that pulls in doors and drawers as soon as they are opened, which isn’t always silent. Soft-closing systems, on the other hand, stop the drawer or door when pushed to a certain point, and then activate hydraulics to pull them in the rest of the way, thus shutting them without sound.
According to Cabinetry Factory, self-close drawers have been in the industry for many years, but soft-close pieces are only just beginning to get popular. It seems Europe is the hotbed for testing out these new technologies before the rest of the world picks them up.
Drawers in the 50’s and 60’s contained noisy metal slides on their sides, known as Grant slides. And then inexpensive epoxy-coated slides with ball bearings were created in the 80’s. These revolutionized the mechanism of drawers and quickly became the mainstay of the furniture industry.
When the drawer is a side-mount type, 1/2 inch clearance is required on either side. This is to accommodate the ball-bearings and stamped-steel of the slide. Nowadays, springs for self-closing and pistons for soft-closing are also being incorporated in the design.
In the olden days, soft-closing pistons contained oil, but those had many disadvantages. Currently, these pistons are air-driven, which has drastically reduced the resistance offered by the drawers when you try to pull them out. But one needs to always keep in mind that drawer slides function in a slightly different manner when the drawers are filled.
In case the cabinet design is of the soft-close under-mount type, then the drawer is constructed slightly wider and with a recess underneath to accommodate the slide and piston mechanism. For this a 1/8 inch clearance is given under the drawer. But if your drawer was originally constructed for side-mount slides, then you shouldn’t attempt to retrofit slides underneath it.
Drawers that are side-mount type have four pieces while the under-mount type has five. This is because the front of the drawer is separately fitted to the box once the slide is in place.
Nowadays, kitchen cabinet manufacturers have started incorporating the soft-close feature with the side-mount slide. But if you are a DIYer, then it is better to go for epoxy-coated slides as they are easier to put together without expertise.
Door and Hinges
Cabinet doors can have many different kinds of hinges – knife, exposed barrel, and European cup.
Knife hinges are called that because a small part of the hinge sticks out like a knife. A spring mechanism can make this a self-closing system. Exposed barrel hinges, on the other hand, have their entire spine visible externally, and need a magnetic catch to allow the door to swing freely. European cup hinges are built inside the door with an internal spring for self-closing.
If the cabinet contains a soft-closing feature, then it also contains an additional piston in the hinge mechanism. A blocking element is then needed to determine the position of the piston and the softening effect on the swing. Since cup hinges are built inside the side of the door, the soft-closing system may either be built-in or snap-on.
Soft-close slides, hinges and doors are perfect for homes that don’t want neighbors to complain of banging door and drawers, and prefer peace and quiet.
Where we live – and the methods and products we use to build our homes – can help or hinder the environment. According to the EPA, more than 500 million tons of construction and demolition debris are sent to landfills every year. Once the products are installed, Americans tend to waste more than 180 gallons of water per week and roughly a third of home energy monthly. Fortunately, kitchen and bath manufacturers are working to make products healthier for the environment and for homeowners.
At Cabinetry Factory, sustainability is not just a buzzword, it is the basis upon which our company was founded and is central to everything we do. First and foremost, Cabinetry Factory is about a worldview that our place on this planet is shared. Through our company and the products we create, we hope to change how people interact with environment in their daily lives and, in doing so, inspire a generation of people to innovate toward a more sustainable future.
All our kitchen cabinets are Carb 2 compliant, meaning they adhere to the lowest and most strict formaldehyde emissions standard of .05 ppm. All wood or wood-based products emit formaldehyde, but the cabinet manufacturing process for some companies can greatly increase these emissions. We are taking steps to ensure the air around is healthy and free of carcinogens in all our cabinetry products.
Cabinetry Factory take responsibility for the environment and the safety of our customers and employees, and takes conscious steps to minimize the overall impact of our operation on environment.
All sawdust generated in our cabinet manufacturing process is collected, removing 98 percent of dust particles. This eliminates virtually any discharge of wood dust into the atmosphere. Our dust collection system not only provides a clean air environment, it also uses a computer controlled, variable frequency drive system that saves a considerable amount of electricity. Sawdust is regenerated to produce heat.
We use eco-friendly paint for kitchen cabinet finish. It has no measurable level of formaldehyde or hazardous air pollutants, and extremely low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The air filtration system in our finishing department removes 97 percent of particulate matter, keeping our air clean inside and out.
A successful finished project first starts with a creative design and then becomes fully functional and inspired during the manufacturing, however, all it takes is a few hiccups during the installation process to turn success into failure and turn a happy customer into a disgruntled one who.
One of the best ways to ensure a successful project is through personnel: You must hire the best people and hiring a great installer is as important as hiring a great designer. An installer should not only be skilled in construction and assembly methods, but they also should be problem solvers, great at time management and skilled at customer service and communication, among other attributes.
Once you’ve hired that person, below are few tips on how to prepare your customer for the install, how to make the jobsite more efficient and how to deal with the common challenge of uneven flooring.
Homeowners have a role to in ensuring a successful closet installation. In fact, how well they do their part is key to the process. Following are seven tips you can share with customers so they can make the proper preparations before installers arrive:
Clean Up: Make sure the room is completely empty and the walls are blank. Not only should all personal items be removed – clothing, shoes, purses, etc. – also remove any moveable item such as shelves, cleats, baseboards and clothing rod.
Paint: Closet walls should be painted at least two days prior to the installation giving the paint time to dry. Painting the walls helps to give the closet a fresh facelift especially if the customer ordered an open back closet system where the wall can be seen. Painting walls to contrast with the color of the closet system can also give the entire closet a
New Floors: All flooring should be cleaned or replaced prior to the installation of the closet system. Once the closet system is installed, it will be a challenge to remove it if the homeowner later decides they want new floors.
Clear the Area: Remind homeowners that closet installation is light construction, so they should remove all pictures, mirrors and knickknacks in the immediate area since the installers need a clear path to the closet and its surrounding area. If the walls that adjoin the closets have artwork or decorative items, those items should be removed as well so that any hammering won’t cause something to shake or fall.
Plan a Playdate: If the homeowner has small kids, suggest that plan a play date at someone else’s home since there will be construction materials lying around. Also, they should plan on where to keep their pets for the day since the workers have to carry materials in and out and you can’t constantly watch the door for a pet that’s not allowed outside.
Decorate: Shop for finishing pieces such as rugs, chairs, footstools and other accents, before the installation begins will allow the homeowner a seamless transition to their new system. This is also the time to replace all old hangers with new ones to give the closet a showroom look.
Make Time: Homeowners should decide on how they want to organize the new closet – whether it’s color coordinating or sorting by seasons. Then schedule enough time to organize clothing and shoes before putting them back in the closet. This is a good time to clean your shoes and purses, get certain items dry cleaned or properly store your occasion clothes.
Make the jobsite efficient
Dan Rush, a professional trim carpenter, specializing in cabinet installs, has the following tips on how to improve efficiency and productivity on the jobsite.
Evaluating Tool Usage: Take time to identify and separate your tools into these three categories:
Daily or weekly use – Keep these in your site kit.
Occasional use – Pack separately but keep in your truck.
Rarely/never used – Put these is your shop’s storage.
This helped reduce his truck cargo by 30 to 40 percent.
Site Tool Kit: Rush uses a Systainer system because it offers a unified approach to tool organization and transportation. Now, along with four Systainer boxes, a worktable, compound miter saw, vacuum and step ladder complete his site kit.
To minimize trips between the truck and jobsite, he decided on a 24 x 48-inch lightweight work cart with 8-inch pneumatic wheels. The large tires help negotiate curbs, gravel drives, cords, etc. on site. Using the Systainers and work cart, saves him 30 to 45 minutes daily.
Site Work Area and Clean Up: An MFT worktable is the center point of his site shop, with the work cart and Systainers set up next to it in the same order each day. A consistent loading plan ensures proper workflow, as well as the ability to immediately notice something out of place on a crowded jobsite.
Another time saver: Rush uses a dust extractor with a number of his tools. On average, it saves 15 to 30 minutes during clean-up time.
Anothy Noel, a cabinetmaker and former contributor to Closets & Organized Storage has a few tips on how to deal with a common problem on jobsite - uneven floors. When the floor is uneven, you can typically get away with shimming a system up to ¼ to ½ inch. But what if the floor slopes up to 2 inches?
Tip 1: Panel Sizing
Cut the panels and scribe the toekick.
A. Start with the panel at the lowest end (do not cut that panel)
B. Place the panel in place
C. Draw a level line from the top of the panel to the end of the system
D. At the location of each panel, measure from the floor to line – that’s the height of your panel. Cut the panel on the bottom and continue to the last panel
E. Scribe toekicks in to fit
Tip 2: Hardware Tricks
Mounting hardware can help correct problems in closet spaces that are out of plumb or out of square. Some closet installers, for wall-mounted systems, use brackets that provide an allowance of 1-1/4 inches of play in several directions.
Tip 3: Filling Gaps
Scribe tape, self-adhesive edgebanding, can be used for small gaps. For gaps larger than 3/8 inch, the entire closet organizing system is shrunk down in the design stage and fillers are included.
Tip 4: Scribe Moulding
Make a scribe moulding with the HPL and scribe it to fit the wall and then laminate it to the edge of the board. Fill in any tiny gaps with caulking.
On wood cabinets the finish is just as important as how well the cabinets are constructed. The finish not only provides aesthetic appeal but is a key component in the protection of the underlying wood surface. It needs that protection from the moisture and chemicals that are typical in a kitchen.
(Keep in mind we're talking about wood cabinets here. Cabinets covered in laminate or melamine aren't coated with these types of finishes and surface treatments.)
The amount of material to explain the science behind the varnishes, lacquers and other cabinet surface treatments could fill a book but it's not necessary for a basic understanding of how a cabinet is put together. What we'll focus on here are some of the common finishes that you're apt to encounter in your cabinet research and their important features.
These are the most common finish treatments that you'll find on kitchen cabinets:
The Finishing Process
The cabinet finishing process is dependent on the type of finishes used and the individual cabinet maker's capabilities and formula. Large cabinet manufacturers may have sophisticated facilities and processes to apply the finish whereas smaller cabinet makers may take a simpler approach or even farm out the finishing process to a local firm that specializes in that type of work.
Wood cabinet finishing involves a number of steps that involve preparing the wood, applying the surface treatments and baking the finish. For an example of one large cabinet manufacturer's method, check out the Cabinetry Factory finishing process of cabinet door. It's an example of the multiple steps that are taken in the cabinet finishing process.
Larger cabinet makers may have the resources and advanced production capabilities to produce consistent quality finishes. Smaller shops may not have the same capabilities. One of the things on your checklist when researching smaller cabinet shops should be their finishing process. Achieving a quality finish requires controlled conditions free from airborne dirt and dust. Some finishes require baking to cure. That's not to say that high-tech production facilities are the only way to achieve a quality finish. Just be sure you understand your cabinet maker's finishing capabilities and whether they'll produce a product that will hold up to the rigors of the kitchen environment.
One final point to remember is that the finish options you choose have a bearing on the final cost of your cabinets. Finishes that include hand-rubbed treatments or multi-step coating applications take time and ultimately raise the cost of the cabinets. Glazing can produce some nice effects but it's an additional step in the process. Ask yourself whether it's absolutely essential in your kitchen style. Otherwise you may be able to save some money on simpler finish treatments.
Cabinetry is reaching a new high in the American home. The industry is booming, and according to research, demand for cabinets in the U.S. is forecast to rise 6.6 percent annually to $16.0 billion in 2018 because of the rise in housing and residential construction spending. Meaning, more houses and buildings are being built!
Eighty-one percent of cabinet demand comes from the kitchen, which is expected to see the fastest growth through 2018, with demand totaling $13.1 billion, according to RnRMarketResearch.com. With this type of growth, it’s important to understand the newest trends, needs and technologies hitting the market in 2015. Here are top six predictions for cabinetry this year.
Color Means More. “Black, white and gray have been dominating for a couple of years now,” said Ted Benz, Bay Cities senior designer. “Soft, muted colors are returning in 2015, and accents of strong, saturated color are revisited this year. High gloss, low sheen and no sheen in neutral triads are blending and continuing to trend.”
Laminate is Chic. According to Benz, textured European laminate mimicking the beauty of wood tones is better than ever before. Engineered surfaces are meeting the challenge of replicating our formerly dominant, natural, high-maintenance products. Retro modernist concepts are morphing into more tasteful and refined offerings. Brands like Bauformat have introduced concrete appearance laminate into the market, which gives a unique, cutting-edge look that vies for attention and demands popularity in chic, hip and modern kitchens.
Technology Meets Cabinetry. In a technology-obsessed society, servo drive uses an electronic amplifier to give cabinetry a touch-and-motion-driven behavior. With a simple wave of the hand or touch of the finger, cabinets will slide, open and close. The clean look and simplistic design of these kitchen cabinets give consumers a modern feel.
Storage and More Storage. Storage options are meeting the needs of a clutter-free kitchen, with kitchen cabinets and drawers that can conceal custom features. Swinging doors now open to surprise with pullout doors attached to shelves for pots and pans, holders for recycling, garbage bins or trash compactors and racks for canned and dry goods. Customizable drawer inserts can be set up to hold dishes, silverware or cutlery.
Light the Way. LED lights can light inside or underneath cabinets to give not only ease for eyesight but also provide a stylish look and are considered energy efficient. LED lights for cabinetry come in warm- and cool-toned colors perfect for trends to be seen in 2015.
Built-In Appliances. You can now build in and integrate appliances with custom cabinet fronts so that they blend in seamlessly with the surrounding cabinets and virtually disappear from sight. This provides a sophisticated and modern look that is a trend that will continue into 2015.
Modern and ultra modern are continuing to be in demand – the urge is for simplicity that modern brings to the eye. Cabinetry is reaching its technical zenith with mechanization, ease of use and care and practical options. This year will be the new leading edge of what has come before.
The kitchen is truly the heart of the home — we know, it’s a cliche, but only because it’s true. Think of the last big party you threw—you had the entire home spotless; you arranged comfy seating in every nook of the living room; you had tables set for buffet and hor ‘d oeuvres — but where did everybody end up gathering? The kitchen, of course! Whether it’s hosting high-class guests or doing homework, it seems the kitchen always ends up acting as the home’s central station. Since we spend so much time in this space, let’s make it as modern, glamorous, and inviting as possible. Here are 10 amazing modern kitchen cabinet ideas that will spark your own kitchen decorating:
1) Veneer Wood Cabinetry Can Be A Warm Kitchen Addition
The use of slab, wood veneer cabinet doors is a trend that adds warmth and depth to a modern kitchen. Slab veneer doors have been popular in Europe for decades and are now finally increasing in popularity in the United States.Certainly there are numerous reasons for this growing popularity. One may suspect this is propelled by the growing trend towards natural products and bringing nature back into the home. Veneer slabs showcase wood grains in a magnificent manner; the grain patterns seem to tell a tale from the tree it originated, so of course nature lovers would enjoy this aesthetic.Buyers must beware of the ranging qualities of slab veneer cabinets. It is best to find a highly-skilled, reputable dealer. Not all veneers are created equal and if done poorly, the edging or banding that holds the veneer in place will peel and/or the laminate can begin to peel or chip. If done properly, you can enjoy decades of warmth from these modern cabinet masterpieces.
2) Add the Sleek Style of Stainless Steel to Your Kitchen
Nothing says sleek and modern more than stainless steel. Most homeowners are opting for stainless steel appliances, even in their country-style kitchens. In order to make this trend completely contemporary, try adding steel kitchen cabinets.Your kitchen will be a stylish modern mecca when outfitted with stainless steel cabinet doors. Aside from the high-end look, stainless steel cabinetry comes with some ups and downs. The down part is obvious, the fingerprints and potential for scratches. However, there are some stainless steel fabrications that claim to be highly resistant to these annoyances.The upside to these steely cabinets is vast. Some of the main perks being: environmental (use of steel over wood), easy to clean, extremely sanitary (which is why they began in commercial grade kitchens), and durable (aside from potential scratches). If solid stainless steel cabinets are out of your price range, then there are options of MDF cabinets that are layered with steel over top. Either way, stainless steel can be an amazing addition to your modern kitchen.
3) Lacquered Kitchen Cabinets Add a Lush Modern Look
Lacquered kitchen cabinets are like a newly painted car parked in your kitchen— bright, shiny and rich in color. Lacquer cabinets are manufactured by a process of applying numerous coats of lacquer, followed by polishing and waxing.If done properly, lacquer finishes can be durable and scratch-resistant. However, most people would say that this type of finish is not the perfect choice for busy families with children because lacquer has been known to chip.If you are willing to risk this, then the high-gloss shine of lacquer cabinets may be the choice for your modern kitchen cabinetry, as its sleek aesthetic is unmatched. You can get lacquer cabinets in virtually any color of your choosing, but be aware that in order to maintain that glossy sheen, you must clean them properly.There are numerous products out there that claim to clean lacquer, but just be sure to use the right thing as some chemicals can actually eat away at the finish.If this is your cabinet choice, it’s probably best to ask the manufacturer for cleaning instructions.
4) Floating Shelves Can Replace Kitchen Cabinetry
The epitome of modern design is clean lines. What better way to achieve a clean, open floor plan than by doing away with kitchen cabinets and installing floating shelves, instead?Floating shelves add straight lines that pair well with any modern or contemporary decor. Most homeowners opt for this style for the upper cabinets and then have closed cabinetry doors for the bottom half of their kitchen. This allows for storage of all those unsightly appliances and utensils.A few wooden floating shelves in combination with a glass backsplash or shiny subway tile backsplash will take your kitchen from blah to breathtaking! The only downside of floating shelves is the lack of hidden storage. It takes a very organized person to keep these open units from becoming cluttered and unsightly.
5) Modern Kitchen Cabinets Can Still Have Color
When most think of a modern kitchen, their minds immediately envision a sleek white or black kitchen void of bright colors, but color can be modern, too.Why not have cherry red lacquer or laminate cabinets? Or bright cobalt blue? Or even try teal on for size? All of these colors can be used in conjunction with contemporary decor. Especially when it comes to mid-century modern decor — well-placed color and pattern is king for this epic era of style.If you want to add a flourish of color to your kitchen, then consider colored cabinets. You may choose to use just a touch of color via one or two upper cabinets, or go for a big bang with an entire fiery red kitchen — either way, it will make a huge style statement.Just be sure to love the color before committing. You will be seeing it everyday (before you have coffee in the morning), so it must be a color you can live with.
6) Modern White Kitchen Cabinets
Maybe the idea of brightly colored cabinets sends frightening chills up your spine, if so, then a simple white kitchen may be the best choice for you.What could be better than glistening white cabinets that reflect the sunshine into your home? White kitchens are popular for a very good reason, no matter the style of the home—they keep the kitchen looking clean (even when the dirty dishes are piled sky-high).This look can be achieved via numerous finishes such as paint, glossy lacquer, melamine, or veneer. No matter what your budget, a clean, modern white kitchen can be yours. White kitchen cabinets also pair very well with numerous styles of drawer pulls.If this clean, easy option sounds appealing, then maybe a white kitchen is in your future. Just keep a cleaning rag on hand to wipe away all those dirty finger prints.
7) Stained Wood Kitchen Cabinet Styles Can be Modern
Pickled white cabinets are not exactly all the rage right now, but you can still stain wooden cabinets with a tint of color to achieve a unique contemporary design.Look at these green tint-stained cabinets in the picture below. They are sleek, clean, and unique. With just a touch of color, the historical grain of the wood seems to be brought to the forefront, allowing the cabinets texture to take center stage.This stained style almost seems to be a mixture of back-to-nature combined with extreme modernism. Solid wood slab doors can be tinted to match any color scheme of your choosing — just be careful to discuss your style with the cabinet maker.Some wood grains can be knotty and if wood knots are unappealing to you, then discuss this beforehand. Stain will only make these knots stand out more.
8) Take Out the Upper Kitchen Cabinets for a Modern Space
Skipping the upper kitchen cabinets entirely may seem a bit risky to some, but by doing so you can really achieve quite the open, modern space.Take a look at the kitchen in the image below — its sleek black and white styling, sans upper cabinets, is very appealing. In place of upper cabinetry, you can add an amazing back splash that travels up to the ceiling, or you have room for an ultra-modern stainless steel hood over the stove. Of course, this style may not be right for those who require a lot of kitchen storage. As you can imagine, without upper cabinets, your storage space is halved.If storage is not an issue for you, then this open, clean aesthetic may be the best choice for your modern kitchen.
9) Distressed Gun Metal Steel Kitchen Cabinets
Here is a look your neighbors will not have (but they will surely envy when they see it).In the image below, the kitchen cabinets are galvanized, hot-rolled steel with a clear coat finish — the steel is layered over an MDF base. The finished look is nothing short of spectacular!This clean, minimalist style gives the illusion that this is not even a kitchen — the cupboards become a piece of stylish furniture or art, instead.If a hidden kitchen appeals to you, then this unique look may be yours. You would have to consult a metal fabricator and cabinet door maker to have these custom cabinets made to your specifications. One thing to remember: hot-rolled galvanized steel will result in a different look each time — no two will ever be the same.
10) Mix up Your Kitchen Cabinet Styles by Combining Wood, Lacquer and Paint
After admiring all of these unique cabinet styles, you are surely having trouble deciding what appeals to you most.Why not try a mixture of all of them? Even in a minimalist interior you can mix up the palette a bit. Why not try lower wood cabinets in combination with upper white lacquered ones? Or veneered walnut cabinet side panels with shiny lacquered faces? Or stainless steel floating upper shelves with painted lower wood cabinets.The combinations are endless and you are certain to achieve a style that is uniquely you. If mixing it up is something you are interested in trying, then it may be best to consult an interior designer and a professional cabinet maker. There are just too many combos to choose from, and you want to make sure you still end up with a minimalist kitchen, not a messy mixture.
There are so many choices and possibilities for your modern kitchen. This article did not even touch upon cabinet pulls (that could be another story unto itself). Choosing cabinetry to style a kitchen space that is uniquely yours can be overwhelming. It is best to take your time and consider all of the choices.
Virtually all cabinet producers offer a warranty with their product. If they don't, that should be a red flag. Cabinets are not a cheap expenditure and they get a lot of use so regardless of where you buy them, make sure you understand the warranty.
Warranties vary with regard to what's covered, the duration and the manufacturer. A good rule of thumb is that manufacturers who build quality products are not afraid to stand behind them with a solid warranty. Here are some key points to consider:
Duration - How long is the product warranted? What you'll find here are different levels or tiers of coverage, depending on the manufacturer. Typical durations are 1 year, 5 years or lifetime coverage.
Be aware of what the manufacturer considers "lifetime"; some warranties state that a kitchen cabinet's lifetime is considered to be 10 years. This may or may not be a long time depending on your perspective and how long you plan on staying in the same house or with the same style of kitchen.
Some manufacturers also vary the warranty coverage within their product lines. Lower-end product lines have the shortest or most limited warranty whereas the high-end line enjoys the longest warranty period.
Personally, I think 10 years is on the low side of any range of cabinet life. I say this because I had cabinets in my home that (before we remodeled) were original to when the house was built in 1965. They were over 40 years old. The drawer slides and fronts wore out but the boxes, frames, shelves, doors and hinges were still solid. If a manufacturer believes their product's working life is only 10 years, I am inclined to doubt the quality of that product. Call me old-fashioned but I think cabinets that are well made should last longer than 10 years under normal use.
Coverage - Find out specifically what's covered and what's not. Most if not all warranties will cover defects in workmanship and materials. They usually won't cover any damage that's inflicted once the cabinets are in place or the result of improper use or care. Some manufacturers also won't cover parts that do not have a finish (like bare wood parts).
Some manufacturers provide warranty on separate parts like drawers, drawer slides, hinges and similar hardware. These items are covered separately from the more generic coverage on the cabinet boxes and may also have different levels of coverage. For example one manufacturer offers a 5 year warranty on workmanship and materials and a limited lifetime warranty on the drawers and drawer guides.
Compensation - What's actually provided to you should you have a legitimate warranty claim? In most if not all cases cabinet warranties provide either repair or replacement of the defective component, at the discretion of the manufacturer. Some may offer reimbursement of the cost of the parts if they are no longer available.
One thing to keep in mind is that usually only the defective part or parts are covered by the warranty. There is typically no compensation for any labor or parts required to gain access to repair or replace the defective cabinet parts. Examples would be the requirement to remove countertops or appliances.
The point here is to highlight that while these warranties are not complex, there are enough differences and nuances among manufacturers and product lines that understanding them before you buy is a worthwhile exercise.
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