I have decided to do my Kitchen over.
May 13, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I am doing my kitchen over and wondering brand of cabinets I should use?
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I am looking for some help on picking out quality kitchen Cabinets.
0 Likes   May 13, 2013 at 5:26AM
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The Kitchen Design Company
Dear Tim Pope,

That’s a tough one which is why you haven’t received any replies.

The question seems simple enough but quality is relative to the level of perfection sought by the individual (you) seeking it. It’s subjective. That said, how can I help you?

Well what quality do you want; good enough - good – better – best. How long do you expect your cabinetry to last? Are you interested in warrantees against defects in materials and workmanship? Are you interested in the flexibility of having your cabinetry made to order, or do you want modular cabinetry made in standard sizes without the possibility of modification? Do you what to choose any door style, color, finish, species of wood or other material, or do you want to make your selections from only what is offered that is predetermined by the manufacturer?

The Architectural Woodworking Institute (AWI) breaks quality down into three categories economy, custom, and premium. You can get their information by following this link. http://www.modinteriors.com/pdfs/0400.pdf . If you’re not into millwork this may not be exciting reading but it will provide you with standards and applications.

The cabinetry manufactures dissect quality down much more finely offering multiple combinations of materials of varying thicknesses, qualities of raw materials, and construction techniques so much so that the buying public doesn’t ask. It is overwhelming, and living in the digital age you don’t need more overwhelm.

Most cabinetry manufacturers don’t produce specifications of value for you to accurately compare so you’ll probably defer to price in making your selection. Price alone isn’t representative of the value of what it is you’re buying.

It’s not at all like buying a car where the manufacturers, not the dealers, supply all the information you could ever need or want when comparing one to another. Some of us like the pretty pictures, some of us like the technical information and specifications. Knowing this astute manufacturers supply both making it easier for you to decide and buy one.

Cabinetry manufacturing is foreign to most kitchen designers not just to you. Most kitchen designers can rattle off all of the features, but most haven’t a clue as to what the benefit of those features are for you. Since the competition supplies the same information it sounds important, because you hear it from more than one source, but makes no sense to you why it really matters.

The best, not the easiest way to select a cabinet is to answer this question. “How would I build my own cabinets, if I had the time, equipment, and expertise?” Before you answer let’s get some basics.

Do you want framed or frameless construction? There are only two distinct cabinet types to choose from Framed Cabinetry, and Frameless Cabinetry. That’s it only two. Your cabinetry either has a face frame attached to the front of your cabinet box (Framed) or it doesn’t (Frameless). It’s a matter of construction.

In the framed cabinet case your doors and drawers will sit on top of the face frame (framed - overlay door and drawer), be set into the face frame flush with it (framed - flush inset), or the doors and drawers partially set into the frame (framed – partial inset).

In frameless construction the doors and drawers cover the cabinet box – there is no face frame.

Next what materials are used in constructing the cabinet boxes and its’ thickness? Veneer Plywood – Particle Board – MDF (multi-density fiber board) -
3/4” – 5/8” – 1/2” – 3/8” – 1/4" -

How do you want your cabinetry box held together or constructed?
Doweled and screwed – Doweled, glued, and nailed – Glued and nailed – Knock down fitting (like the furniture you buy in a flat box and need to assemble yourself without fasteners).

What materials do you want used in constructing your cabinet face frames and their thickness (framed cabinetry only)? Solid wood - MDF - 3/4” - 1” – 1 1/4"

What materials do you want used in constructing your cabinet doors and their thickness? Solid wood door frame and center panel - Solid wood door frame with veneer plywood center panels – Solid wood door frames with MDF center panels - Solid MDF door with center panel (monolithic- one piece). 3/4” - 1” – 1 1/4"

What materials do you want used in constructing your cabinet drawer heads and their thickness? Solid wood slab – solid wood frame and center panel – Solid wood frame with veneer plywood center panel – Solid wood frames with MDF center panels - Solid MDF slab (monolithic- one piece) - Solid MDF frame with center panel (monolithic- one piece). 3/4” - 1” – 1 1/4"

What materials do you want used in constructing your wood drawer boxes, roll out shelves, and their thickness? Solid wood, Veneer plywood - Veneer particle board - Veneer MDF - 3/8” – 1/2" - 3/4”
Note: you can also purchase metal boxes for your drawers and roll out shelves if you’re interested let me know and I can provide information about them or search the web for meta box.

What type of joinery do you want used in constructing your wood drawer boxes and roll out shelves? Dovetailed, French miter, lock miter, rabbet, butt joint doweled, but joint nailed. You can see a few examples by following this link http://www.finewoodworking.com/pdf/drawerbuildingbasics.pdf on page 8. And here https://www.google.com/search?q=wood+drawer+box+joinery&client=firefox-a&hs=NrO&hl=en&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=fflb&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=XY-XUfy2NKWw0AH7tYCoDA&sqi=2&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAQ&biw=1235&bih=712

What quality of drawer tracks or glides do you want for your drawers and hinges for your doors to operate on? Major manufacturers are Blum, Hettich, Mepla, Knape & Vogt, and Accuride to name a few.

Next how do you want the fully exposed ends of your cabinetry finished? Door panels that match your door style – beaded or grooved end panels – plain end panels – no end panels just finish exposed cabinet sides.

Do you want appliance panels so you cabinetry and appliances match?

Are you interested in cabinetry warrantee and if so how long do you want your cabinetry warranted against defects in materials and workmanship? Does the company or person you’re using warrant the cabinetry installation against defects in workmanship and if so for how long?

If you decide what you really want and would build for yourself you can narrow down your choices and control overwhelm by only considering manufacturers that build what you want or as close to it as you can get, depending on what you have to invest in your cabinetry. Go for what you want first then consider price. Price may be negotiable.

This is not a completely comprehensive discussion on how to choose a cabinet or cabinetry manufacturing but snippets to help you figure out what you’re looking for to narrow your enormous amount of choices to only what’s meaningful to solving your particular problem. And I’ll bet you’re not alone in this.

If you establish your criteria for what it is you want in a cabinet you should be able to look at your options subjectively, after narrowing the field, and make your best decision possible for you.

This is a very complicated topic because so little information is available to you. You almost need to be a cabinet manufacturer yourself to be able to distinguish one cabinet from another. The differences, although subtle or indistinguishable to the uninformed can have a tremendous impact on longevity, fitness, and value immediately and especially into the future.

Unfortunately, manufactures know well what they do but don’t make much of an effort to fill us in on the method to their madness. As to why they do it this way and not that way. I guess they assume we know or aren’t interested.

I hope this has been helpful.


Joe Brandao

P.S.: If you want the most quality and value you can get into and out of your new kitchen you'll have to design your kitchen. You can get my book here for a limited time for Free. http://www.kitchendesignco.com/KPE.html
1 Like   May 18, 2013 at 8:44AM
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