Its more than decor elements that makes one kitchen cabinet material choice better than another. There are the obvious items in your choice like the style, color, wood or plywood, MDF or particleboard. These elements and their various attributes are discussed in this previous article, Kitchen Material – The Best Choice.
When you open a cabinet door or drawer there can be big difference in quality and materials. Let’s look at some of the things you should consider. Beyond the looks and color of the kitchen cabinets you chose for your home renovation project.
Kitchen Cabinet Cost COnsiderations
Kitchen cabinets cost should be determined by judging costs verses value received. The variables that affect the cost of kitchen cabinets relate to quality, appearance, and functional effectiveness. These variables include overall construction quality, materials and finishes, door styles, hinges, joints, hardware, drawer glides, and storage options.
The cost of a basic box can easily double with the addition of several built-in storage sections. An upgraded finish or raised-panel door style, and high-quality hinges and hardware. Frame-less kitchen cabinets tend to be more expensive than face-frame kitchen cabinets and can be more time consuming to install.
Custom or Stock Cabinets
One area that tends to get misunderstood involves the terms stock, semi-custom and custom. These terms do not refer to the quality of cabinets but rather, how they are manufactured. Here are the basic definitions:
- Stock - Prefabricated or stock cabinets are manufactured in specific sizes, typically in 3" increments. Usually there are few if any options for customization other than some limited choices the manufacturer might offer. They are off-the-shelf products in a limited range of styles.
- Semi-Custom - Semi-custom units are like stock in that they're also pre-manufactured but come with a wider array of options and in more sizes than pure stock cabinets. With semi-custom you have some ability to choose various details to customize an otherwise pre-built stock product
- Custom - Custom cabinets are built to the customer's specifications, with no limitation on size, style choices, wood grade or finish and they are truly made-to-order.
A custom cabinet doesn't necessarily imply quality. Hand-built, made-to-order cabinets can still be poorly constructed with lower grade material. Conversely, stock cabinets that are produced in mass quantities and limited sizes can be manufactured with solid construction and quality materials.
Kitchen Cabinet Hardware
Besides the cabinet door and drawer faces and the boxes that make up your cabinets. There are drawer slides, hinges, door and drawer pulls or handles, shelf supports and whatever other storage accessories you choose to include. Like the other construction materials, these can vary in cost, quality and suitability for your needs. No matter how attractive the kitchen cabinetry in a showroom may look, its appeal will quickly diminish in your home if its hardware is of inferior quality. Just as you’d test drive a car before you bought it, test the kitchen cabinets in the dealer showroom.
The best-quality drawer slides for kitchen cabinets operate on nylon wheels or ball bearings made of polymer or steel. They also have built-in bumpers to cushion the impact of the drawer front closing against the kitchen cabinet. The top-of-the-line glides allow for full extension, although three-quarter extension glides can be a practical alternative. High-quality drawers are self-closing when they’re within about an inch of being closed.
There are many types of drawer slides available today. Many of these are integrated into the side of the drawer itself. Load ratings are also important as not all slides can support the same weight. Some slides can only handle 50 pounds or less. For rollout shelves loaded with heavy cookware, these may fail to provide the expected strength and smoothness of operation over time.
Door ANd Drawer pulls
There are a tremendous amount of cabinet hardware options available today. It’s quite likely when purchasing stock or semi-custom cabinets you will have a limited set of choices. Not to worry, the upgrades are available by the hundreds at reasonable costs.
Today, pulls are made of combinations of solid surface materials mixed with traditional materials as well as the tried and true plastics, wood, brass, metal, porcelain, and chrome. If you’re interested in something a little more exotic you can find glass, polished stainless steel, bronze and any combination of these and more.
There are simple U shapes, circular button pulls, or elaborately carved or painted pulls that complement traditional-style wood cabinetry. The important thing to remember is provide a sense of continuity between the pulls and the cabinet hinges, cabinets and counter tops. This doesn’t mean they need to match necessarily but they should all work in harmony together.