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angela_wacker11

Yet another kitchen cabinet question

Angela Wacker
14 days ago

Hello - I am still stuck on kitchen cabinets. I have looked at many options - Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets (comes assembled but unfinished), Kitchen Cabinet Depot (comes finished but I put together), local cabinet stores (not big box), Scherr's, Barker's, and am still unsure what to do. I have gotten door samples from Scherr's, Barker's and Unfinished Cabinets and they all seem like a good solid door. All use plywood and not mdf for boxes. This weekend I found a local-ish person who makes cabinets. His price was good and he will stain or paint. I make the assumption that handmade cabinetry is better than purchased, but not a lot of reviews of his work online so maybe that isn't correct. And, how do I know the paint finish will be good? He uses Valspar lacquer.


Background: We have every other repair to make on this house (new roof, new siding, structural, plumbing, all new HVAC system, flooring, etc....so we really don't have a lot of money to put into a remodel in the kitchen). We will be doing quartz countertops and just want nice looking, well made cabinets. I despise chipping and flaking more than anything. Any tips on good brands, finishes or preferred cabinetry? TIA

Comments (22)

  • Pete Malloy
    13 days ago

    Wrong assumption to make. Keep what you have until it’s worn the heck out. You can live with ugly. Take care of the other stuff first.

  • Angela Wacker
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    oh, it is worn out, ugly and out of there. There were things living in them and most didn't even open. and they were PEACH.

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  • millworkman
    13 days ago

    "And, how do I know the paint finish will be good?"


    And how do you know the field applied finish on RTA will be good?

  • Angela Wacker
    Original Author
    13 days ago

    @millworkman I don't know if an RTA finish will be good. That is my point - I'm just looking for experiences and recommendations. I have never purchased cabinets before.

  • PRO
    Celadon
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    You’ll still need about 1K in tools and equipment if you want to field apply a finish as durable as a factory finish. It gives a false sense of value to compare unfinished choices to factory finished choices. Finishing cabinets from a pro costs almost as much as the cabinets. It won’t be Valspar from a hack. Valspar is junk, and anyone who uses it, you should run from. Custom does not mean quality. And that would not be quality. Most of the things you list should be run from. No junk import RTA cabinets.

    Scherrs is top notch, but you won’t see any “savings” with that unless you compare against much better quality stuff than you’re looking at. They will cost more than all the junk, and require more labor in your part, than cheap RTA, but you’ll end up with great quality. Barker is just OK, but the costs will also be higher than the other junk you’re looking at. For very little more, you could buy Omega Full Access, which is a great upper end already assembled brand. Know the difference between framed and frameless.

    Highly Educational Posts

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/3032345/barker-cabinets-kitchen-designer-layout-help?n=63

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5647040/white-shaker-battle-ikea-vs-the-rest-of-the-cabinet-world

    https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5619508/custom-color-for-rta-or-less-expensive-cabinetry

    Angela Wacker thanked Celadon
  • gayagopi
    13 days ago

    After seeing all option we are planning to work with cabinet maker.But you can pick the color as it’s custom cabinetry right?

  • H202
    13 days ago

    From having followed this site for a long time, my impression is that a well-chosen low cost RTA cabinet is a better bet than a low-cost custom cabinet maker. That is, your scherrs, ikeas, etc than the guy operating from his garage who says he can match those prices.

    Angela Wacker thanked H202
  • moosemac
    13 days ago

    H202,

    I disagree. I think it depends on the custom contract cabinet maker. I used a local custom cabinet maker. I have both custom and Wellborn cabinets both are painted. The quality of the custom cabinets are far superioir and the custom cabinets' paint has held up far better.

    Angela Wacker thanked moosemac
  • H202
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    To clarify - custom cabinet makers can make superior cabinets. But there are lots of horror stories about the low cost ones on this site. For every inexpensive cabinet maker who turns out a quality product, there's another where they disappear with your money, or take 6 months to complete the work, or the paint is flaking the first time water touches them, or they swear up and down they can do a stain match exactly the picture on Houzz, and it comes back looking like DIY gone wrong, or the wood and screws look like they were constructed by Homer Simpson, or the lower cabinets are a totally different color paint than the uppers, or... or ... or.... just a million horror stories.

    Compared with low cost RTA cabinets - which are not great quality but you know what you are getting. Sure, there are periodic horror stories about low cost cabinets showing up with the wrong paint color or chips or exposed screws (though honestly, there are a surprising number of those stories for really expensive cabinets on this site, too). But most of these brands ultimately show up as expected. The may start to show wear and tear after 7-10 years -- but we all know that's what you get with a lot of cheap cabinets.

    Point is - there's like a 50% chance your inexpensive cabinet guy makes you a solid quality cabinet, but a 50% chance it's a disaster. With RTA cabinets, there's probably a 95% chance nothing significant goes wrong and you get the product you expected. Assuming it's not my forever house, i'd way, way rather the RTA cabs in that scenario.

    If money is no object, of course a custom cabinet maker that charges appropriately for their work is a solid bet. But that's not what we're talking about here.

    Angela Wacker thanked H202
  • MaryAliceB
    13 days ago

    Join the Kitchen Cabinet Painting Experts group on Facebook to learn about finishing cabinets. Read all the Units. Twice. It will give you the knowledge needed to DIY finish. Because cabinet finishing is expensive to very expensive. Which is why you can’t even compare costs of unfinished to finished unless you add 30-60% to the unfinished. Depends on the finish that you want. But, having bought good quality cabinets, you wouldn’t want to spend money on doing a low grade consumer finish on them. You’d want a pro level finish. That means a sprayed 2K poly finish.

    Angela Wacker thanked MaryAliceB
  • Nancy K
    13 days ago
    last modified: 13 days ago

    I am sure all custom cabinet makers are not created equal. However, my cabinets were made by the local Amish and the quality is amazing. The price seemed reasonable also. I also had a local company who has been in business 100 years make all my interior doors and trim. The quality is also amazing and price reasonable.

    Angela Wacker thanked Nancy K
  • Angela Wacker
    Original Author
    12 days ago

    I appreciate the feedback. I will look into the FB group but really do not want to DIY the finish. I have done DIY cabinets in the past, using the highest quality paints, following all the tips and I agree, it simply can't compare to a factory finish. This was the whole reason we were leaning towards just putting poly on unfinished cabinets and enjoying a chip free existence. I have put an email out to omega as I've heard good things about them in the past. My gut is telling me that the level of detail mr. custom cabinet maker is providing via email is not quite sufficient to make me comfortable enough to trust his product. I am sure there are brilliant ones out there, but thank you for advising me that not all "custom" is good.

  • Angela Wacker
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    Following up on this discussion. I have since met with four different cabinet "brokers"; two who do custom builds, one who works in kitchen/bath design, and another online retailer. I feel even more confused. The custom cabinet guy has been in busy here for decades. He does custom and he will also order with factory finish. We talked at length about finish durability and he said the most durable finish is one that is done in the home after install with coats of paint and a topcoat. I have also tried to reach out to two area Omega dealers and have gotten no response from either. In talking with other companies about how cabinets are made with them, I do not understand why the unfinished maple cabinets (plywood boxes and doors) would be considered "junk" as mentioned. To me, they seem to be of better quality. They are not made in China, but in the NE states and come fully assembled with custom sizes and styles. They are also 1/2 the price of the quotes I have gotten here for finished mdf cabinets.

  • HO-UZZ812
    7 days ago

    This is why you hire an independent kitchen designer, who isn’t trying to sell you anything. You need experienced unbiased advice. Everyone trying to sell you stuff will tell you their version of theirs is the best. Most of them don’t even understand cabinet construction. You need the help. Hire it.

  • Angela Wacker
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    @HO-UZZ812 I did hire professional help and she took me to the kitchen designer who I think she works with a lot. I don't think we have that kind of specialized help available in my area. Or at I can't find it with what we are able to afford.

  • PRO
    Lisa Caudill Designs
    7 days ago

    Have you looked at Kraftmaid cabinets?

  • R P
    7 days ago

    The previous owner of our house installed J & K cabinetry. It’s a mid to high end RTA solid wood semi-custom cabinet line. I don’t think I would have considered an RTA line before, but these are beautiful and well made. The finish still looks like new. I understand how overwhelming it can be trying to choose the best option especially with budget constraints. I’ve been there. I think it’s OK to get something nice, but not top of the line. The cabinets in my first house were builder grade junk in my opinion, but it’s 28 years later and my friends in that neighborhood still have those cabinets. They’ve swapped out the doors, but the boxes are still in good condition and they look good.

  • Angela Wacker
    Original Author
    7 days ago

    @R P Thank you. We just purchased a used bath vanity and the woman was using J & K for their entire kitchen and bath remodel. I will reach out. I appreciate the rec.


  • HO-UZZ812
    7 days ago

    J&K is low level import stuff with only a 5 year warranty. You need to be looking at cabinets that start with a 25 year warranty. The industry standard is a lifetime warranty, which is where quality starts. 5 year warranty stuff should be avoided.

    Angela Wacker thanked HO-UZZ812
  • PRO
    Meghan Goodman Interior Design
    7 days ago

    I have to agree. We are pulling out all the J&K in our kitchen. The doors are pretty, but (at least ours) are particle board sides. For our remodel, my husband's only request is "no cabinets made out of graham crackers".

    Angela Wacker thanked Meghan Goodman Interior Design
  • mojavemaria
    7 days ago

    If you are looking at RTA cabinets we have Conestoga in kitchen and Barker in bathroom and both seem very good quality. The kitchen cabs are factory finished stained oak and the finish feels indestructible.


    the bathroom were unfinished so we could put our own color on but in the kitchen I would be afraid of anything but a factory finish as they take so much use and abuse!


    I highly recommend both these US RTA cabinets.

    Angela Wacker thanked mojavemaria
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