A cabinet is a cabinet, right? Hardly. From materials and finishes, heights to hardware, cabinets vary - and can add a unique touch to any renovation or new-build project. Choosing kitchen cabinetry is probably the biggest, if not the most nerve-wracking, decision you'll make for your kitchen. It's easy to understand since your cabinets have a big impact on your budget as well as how your kitchen looks and feels. Lynley Serratt of Palmer Todd shares the seven essential questions you should be asking your designer about cabinetry.
1. Logistics – are all of the cabinetry parts being manufactured “in house” or are they purchased as loose components like doors and drawers from an outside third party vendor? Materials that are manufactured in house have complete control over the quality of the wood used and its moisture content. If your cabinet supplier outsources components, they have little control of the quality of those pieces.
2. Quality of Construction- Not all manufacturers are created equal; there are those that offer more premium products in the way of materials, construction and options. Many people assume that cabinetry is constructed entirely out of solid wood; that is definitely not the case! There are two main categories of materials used in cabinet construction - Solid Wood and Engineered Wood. Solid wood naturally expands and contracts with changes to temperature and humidity levels and therefore is not a stable product to be used for the cabinet box construction, such as the cabinet end panels, top or bottom components and even the shelving. These components need to be constructed out of a material that is strong, durable and stable - that's where Engineered Wood has its advantages. The use of Engineered Wood in the construction industry has continued to grow over the last few years due to the added stability, strength and durability that these engineered wood products offer.
3. Drawers and Hardware - You'll be wise to pay close attention to these key features, particularly if you expect to live with your cabinets for a long time. Kitchen cabinets (particularly the drawers) take a lot of punishment so paying for some durability is a wise investment. Many lesser quality cabinets can look great once they are hung as most doors are usually pretty good and solid. But open the drawer to get a true idea of the cabinet's quality and craftsmanship. Electronically operated drawer systems that allow the automatic opening and closing of the drawer at the touch of a finger, state of the art metal drawer systems or traditional hardwood drawers with dove-tail joints are essential to a high-quality drawer system. In addition, fine cabinetry also uses metal drawer guides positioned on the bottom of the drawer. Metal glides withstand greater pressure and wear better unlike plastic, which becomes brittle with age.
4. Finish Quality - Is the cabinetry being finished at the factory or on the job site? What is being done to ensure that the painting environment is dust free so dirt or hairs from paintbrushes are not seen in the finished product? A dust free environment is critical to achieving a beautiful and durable finish. Smaller shops cannot afford this type of dust control, and it is not possible with a job site application. No matter how hard your contractor tries to clean the job site area during prep, they cannot keep the air clean during the finishing process without filters. Spraying the product on site actually stirs up the air and dust during the application of the finish. You can feel the difference of a factory finish produced in a dust free environment.
5. Longevity of Finish - Longevity of the finish is an important consideration since the finishing process is vital to ensuring the durability of your cabinetry. What are you using as the topcoat to provide a durable, strong, long-lasting finish? Are you using a catalyst in the varnish? You want a catalyst within the varnish because that’s what makes the finish hard enough so it is durable and doesn’t come apart. A catalyzed varnish finish is impervious to most household chemicals, including acetone, the major additive to nail polish remover. Without a catalyst, household cleaners will slowly erode the finish. Our factories use catalyzed finishes so durable that a permanent Sharpie pen mark can wipe clean with acetone and not affect the finish. Ask your contractor to provide you with a sample of their work (preferably a cabinet door) and drop a small amount of fingernail polish remover on the back of the door so as not to ruin the front. If the contractor is using lacquer or polyurethane, the finish will lift away from the door.
6. Design Customization Options – Stock cabinetry does little more than provide you with standard cupboards and drawers. Cabinetry that is manufactured in a state of the art facility is capable of delivering the customization necessary to satisfy the most challenging designs, allowing designers to express themselves in creating timeless spaces.
7. Organization - The benefits of an organized kitchen cannot be underestimated. Gone are those mornings of fumbling around for the coffee. You know right where it is, as it will have its own spot. Preparing meals will be easier, as all ingredients are handy and easy to find. An organized kitchen will also save you money, as you will always know what food you have and what you don't. Ensure your cabinetry provides endless solutions to your storage needs. Pullout shelves for pans, blind corner turnout units, drawer inserts, vertical dividers for trays and cookie sheets, an appliance garage, or pullout pantries are some of the essential add-ons.