High-quality kitchen cabinets should look stunning and provide functional, easy-to-use storage at least twenty or thirty years. However, many people have cabinet problems with low quality.
Kitchen Cabinets come in different forms. They are available in various materials, styles, colors, and finishes. While kitchen cabinets are based on those details, choosing the right combination of qualities, characteristics, and features to fit your preference and needs are the kitchen cabinets that will provide you with a lot of value.
Every day, kitchen cabinets are exposed to temperature changes, moisture, and the weight more than any other storage spaces in your home. It is only proper that you choose high-end kitchen cabinets to save you the trouble and added costs of having to replace them after only a few years of use.
High quality kitchen cabinets can be defined as having the right combination of quality materials, unique styling, and excellent craftsmanship.
High quality kitchen cabinets are an investment that is well worth it. What are the qualities of high-end kitchen cabinets? When can kitchen cabinets be rated as high-end?
Kitchen cabinets are chic wooden boxes mounted to the walls and floors of your kitchen. They consist of the box and the door. Albeit, the simple definition of kitchen cabinets, it does not mean that they should be given less attention in terms of quality and details. Plywood as a material for kitchen cabinets does not refer to the materials used in garden shed and frame and inexpensive houses.
Plywood used in kitchen cabinets are furniture-grade ply. It means, this material can withstand constant use and abuse. It also means, its performance can be better than solid wood in some cases.
High quality kitchen cabinets should have an all-plywood construction (backs and sides) for many reasons:
- Plywood consists of multiple layers of wood running crosswise and lengthwise, making it a strong material.
- Plywood can hold fasteners, screws, and glue better.
- Plywood can hold heavy weights over long periods.
- Plywood is resistant to dents, dings, and blow-outs.
- Plywood can resist moisture damage even when installed around faucets, sinks, and running water.
- Plywood can carry the weight of heavy countertops.
- Plywood cam hold up during delivery and installation.
An all-plywood construction is applicable to the box and not on doors and other finish surfaces.
The construction of the kitchen cabinet back affects the durably of the cabinet and well as the its ease of installation. The sturdiest cabinet construction has a full-back panel made of 3/8-inch or more full-plywood.
Full-height back panels made of full-plywood extends from top to bottom and side to side eliminating the need for hanging rails to strengthen the material.
Solid, full-height plywood back panels (3/8-inch or more) offer these benefits:
- Allows the direct attachment of the cabinet to the studs of the wall at any portion of the cabinet back.
- Eliminates the need to install the cabinets on hanging rails.
- Should there be a need to cut the cabinet back to accommodate plumbing or wiring, the back will remain solid without the need for added reinforcement.
There are instances when the back panel of the cabinets are omitted exposing the wall. It can also be that a 1/8-inch to ¼-inch particleboard panel in the same height of the cabinet is used. These alternatives may make the kitchen cabinets cost less but compromise the integrity of the cabinets.
When the back panels of kitchen cabinets are weak, there is a risk the cabinets may fall. Full plywood full-height back panels on the other hand, will keep the cabinets accurate and secure in the kitchen.
Many people think that a kitchen cabinet door hinge is just what it is – a door hinge. Cabinet hinges are one of the most important components of kitchen cabinets simply because you cannot open or close cabinet doors without them. Kitchen cabinets with sturdy and stylish soft-close hinges minimize damage due to consist use.
Soft-close hinges have built-in hydraulics so when the cabinet door is closed the hydraulics make sure the door closes silently. Most soft-close hinges are self-closing, but not all self-close hinges are soft-closing.
Soft-close hinges come with these features:
- 6-way adjustable hinges (in-out, up-down, left-right)
- Soft-close mechanism, installed into the nickel-plated, hardened steel door hinge.
It is important that hinges should be adjustable so they can adapt to the contraction and expansion of cabinet doors due to seasonal changes.
Soft-close windows offer these benefits:
- Reduces the wear and tear level of hinges and cabinets.
- Reduces stress on the cabinet doors and drawers.
- Prevents the slamming of doors that can cause cracks, marks, and dents on the cabinet frames.
- Extends the useful life of hinges by minimizes friction.
Cabinet manufacturers have thousands of hinges to choose from. Be wary, however of manufacturers who install low-end hinges on their kitchen cabinets, the ones that can be adjusted only in four ways and the ones that do not come with a lifetime warranty.
Inferior cabinet hinges can cause doors to be uneven, as well loose and stiff. Some low-end hinges will sometimes not make cabinet doors close.
Drawers glides or slides are often the least discussed component of high-quality kitchen cabinets. Drawer glides are available in various style, but you should insist on full-length undermount and soft-close drawer glides.
Insisting on high-quality and heavy-duty drawer glides provide these benefits:
- Support the silent and smooth movement of cabinet drawers even after years of heavy and hard use.
- Prevent cabinets drawers from being loss or stick and from sagging due the weight the cabinet carries.
Undermount and soft-close drawer glides reduce level of wear and tear and breakage potential of your drawer glides.
Undermount and soft-close glides should come with these features:
- Should extend to allow full access to the entire drawer.
- They should be adjustable.
- They should come with a soft-close dampening system to make sure they are almost silent when drawers are opened and closed.
- Since they are mounted beneath the drawer box, they should be able to support heavy loads (at least 90 pounds).
Cabinet manufacturers have hundreds of choices for drawer-glide mechanisms and systems. To ensure your kitchen cabinets are installed with high-quality and heavy-duty drawer glides, stay away from these cabinet constructions:
- Epoxy-coated metal with plastic rollers.
- Side-mount glides reduce the drawer’s width thus reducing your storage space. They are also not soft close.
- Center-mount and side-mount often provide only 75% access. A portion of the drawer remains inside the cabinet; thus, you are unable to reach the back portion of the drawer.
- Metal or wooden single-center mount are the most inferior type of drawer glides because they slide through a plastic brace.
Undermount and soft-close drawer glides are your best bet if you want high-quality kitchen cabinets.
If you opted to install low-end kitchen cabinets, the drawer boxes and joints would be the first casualties. These drawer boxes and joints are mostly secured only with notched butt joints and staples that are not durable.
It is important that you have high-quality drawer boxes to prevent them from bowing and bending, as well as preventing the front faces from falling off.
The bottom of your cabinet drawer needs to be able to support the weight of what you put inside. Hardwood dovetail drawer boxes have become the gold standard for American cabinetry. Drawer boxes should slide on a dovetail joint that have interlocking teeth.
Hardwood dovetail drawer boxes come with these features:
- They come with top-quality plywood bottoms making them beautiful, durable, and long-lasting.
- The wood itself provides strength to the joints because the meeting points of the sides are at the dovetail joints.
- They have 5/8-inch or thicker solid birch or maple sides.
- The bottom of the drawer is made of strong plywood.
- The four sides of the drawer are fully captured in grooved joints that are nailed and glued in place.
Cabinet drawers are constructed using various materials (plywood, particleboard, plastic, and metal) and multiple construction methods. Low-quality drawer cabinets have sides e with notched or butt joints secured only with staples. Most of the bottoms of the drawers are made with particleboard.
It is important to understand the difference between kitchen cabinets fully assembled in the factory and ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets.
Fully assembled in the factory kitchen cabinets are completely constructed in the factory, packed, and ship to your home. All you need to do is install them in your kitchen.
High quality Ready-to-assemble (RTA) kitchen cabinets are shipped in parts including the cabinet and face frame, drawers and drawer glides, doors, inserts, and hardware. You or the contractor will have to assemble them.
Fully assembled in the factory kitchen cabinets come with these pros and cons:
- Strong and durable.
- Construction methods include joining wood parts with dovetail joints, power fasteners, hot and cold glue, and other effective industrial techniques.
- Kitchen cabinets arrive assembled and only need to be installed.
- High shipping cost.
RTA kitchen cabinets come with these pros and cons:
- Less expensive.
- RTA cabinets are not as durable or strong.
- Lower shipping cost because the components of the cabinet are packed flat.
- Assembling the cabinets can take so much of your time.
High quality kitchen cabinets are fully assembled in the factory.
The face frame is the frame attached to the front of the kitchen cabinet’s carcass. Face frames hide the edges of the carcass. They also are where the doors and some external hardware are installed. Face frames can either be framed or frameless.
Framed kitchen cabinets come with these features:
- The front of the cabinet comes with a solid hardwood frame.
- Face frame offers more stability to the cabinet box square during installation and also shipping.
- Drawer glides and door hinges are attached to the frame.
Framed cabinets can either be full overlay, partial overlay, and inset. The difference in styles is based on the amount of the frame that is revealed.
Frameless kitchen cabinets come with these features:
- The front of the cabinet box does not have a frame.
- The doors of the cabinet are directly attached to the sides of the cabinet box.
- Door hinges and drawer glides are attached directly to the side walls of the cabinets because the side panels are thicker.
- These cabinets are full-overlay or about 1/8-inch of around the cabinet doors and drawer fronts are revealed.
- Most are built from particleboard; thus, door hinges tend to loosen over time.
- Installers tend to charge more to install frameless kitchen cabinets because they need to make sure that the install area is perfectly level.
The two types of face frames differ in terms of appearance, construction method, strength, stability, and installation cost.
A toekick is the space between the floor and the base cabinet. It is the space that allows you to be comfortable while working on your countertop.
A good toekick should have these features:
- Should be fully enclosed and secured with glue, nails, and dado joints.
- Should be installed across the entire length of the cabinet sides and back panel more strength.
A plywood toekick includes a solid and full-length back panel along with cabinet sides made of plywood to automatically create a toekick.
Kitchen cabinets with plastic legs are not as stable or strong as full-box cabinets. Additionally, a toekick panel needs to be installed to prevent small items and dirt getting stuck under the cabinet.
Stock kitchen cabinets come in limited sizes and styles. Semi-custom cabinets can be modified to a certain degree. They are available in a variety of styes and sizes. Manufacturers start off by building a basic cabinet to save on production cost.
Modifications can include:
- Sizes of the cabinet boxes (with incremental adjustment of up to 1/8-inch)
- Glass-ready open front or mullion doors (dividing bars used to separate glass panes in a door)
- Beadboard ends
- Angled end cabinets
- Storage units
With these modification options, you can achieve a high degree personalization or customization.
Custom kitchen cabinets are manufactured based on the exact specifications of the customer. Customers are provided with many choices in terms of styles, sizes, and features. In short, these kitchen cabinets are made based on unique needs and preferences of the customer and the allowable space in the kitchen for the cabinets.
The warranty you will get for your kitchen cabinet does not in theory tell you about how strong or durable the cabinets are. Instead, it gives you an idea of the length of time the manufacturer will stand behind their kitchen cabinets.
If your kitchen cabinet does not come with a warranty, it means the quality of the cabinet is not the main priority of the manufacturer. Be wary of considering kitchen cabinets with no or very minimal warranty. Should the kitchen cabinet fail, you will not be able to have the manufacturer address your concerns.
- Short-term Warranty
Many manufacturers offer only 5 or 10-year limited warranties. Kitchen cabinets that are poorly built often starts to show signs of failure after 5 to 10 years. If the cabinets do not come with a lifetime warranty, chances are they already have an expired warranty.
- Lifetime Limited Warranty
A lifetime limited warranty will give you peace of mind that the manufacturer will stand behind their product. Should the cabinet fail (no matter how long you have owned the cabinet), as long as you are the original purchase, the manufacturer will replace damage parts or repair the cabinet.
- Lifetime Warranty
If your kitchen cabinet comes with a lifetime warranty, it means the manufacturer has faith in the quality of their cabinets. Kitchen cabinets are one of the costliest investments you spend for your home. A lifetime warranty will ensure your kitchen cabinets will serve you for as long as you need them.
High end kitchen cabinets do not come cheap. Check out the characteristics high quality kitchen cabinets need to have to ensure you are getting what you paid for.
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