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Types of Kitchen Cabinets

Types of Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen remodeling has been popular for many years and as time goes on, the kitchen becomes more and more the hub of family activities. They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, so if the kitchen is the heart of the home, kitchen cabinets are the heart of the kitchen.

Kitchen cabinetry can make or break the budget. Many cabinetry choices are available in today’s market and it’s important to know the differences between those choices so you can make an informed decision. Read on and see what your options are.

Types of kitchen cabinets:

The 4 main types of cabinets are: basic stock, semi-custom, full custom, and what I call stock semi-custom.

Basic Stock Kitchen Cabinets

Basic stock cabinetry is cabinetry that sits on a shelf in a home improvement store or warehouse. These cabinets offer very limited choices in sizes, styles, and finishes. They are meant to be more functional than stylish and are often used for apartments, utility rooms, dormitories, etc. The quality of construction is basic as well. The box construction, shelving, and sometimes doors is usually particleboard, hinges and guides are low cost as well. Their biggest advantage is that they are available immediately and they are inexpensive. The price is level one (out of five).


Semi-custom Kitchen Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinetry is made to order and most manufacturers build a sturdy box made out of plywood. Standard features would be soft-close drawer guides and soft-close door hinges. Doors can be particleboard or solid wood. Styles, types of wood, and finishes are plentiful. Most manufacturers offer painted, stained, and laminated finishes. The typical lead-time is four to six weeks. The price level is three to four (out of five).

Full Custom Kitchen Cabinets

Full custom cabinets are what you would expect—they offer almost anything you can imagine. The cabinetry is well built and available in many wood species or laminates and can be ordered in most configurations or sizes. Paint and stain finishes can be custom matched. The finishes usually require many more steps, which gives it a richer look and feel as well as exceptional durability. Typical lead-time is eight to twelve weeks and the price level is a 5 (out of five).


Stock Semi-custom Kitchen Cabinets

Stock semi-custom cabinets (my own vernacular) are housed in massive warehouses and are available in about a week. Most of these cabinets are sold knocked-down and are ready-to-assemble (RTA). The cabinet construction is excellent featuring all plywood construction, hardwood drawer boxes, and soft-close hinges and drawer guides. The most popular styles and finishes are stocked in the sizes often used in the majority of designs. Although the manufacturer does not offer customization, a creative fabricator can customize to an extent using standard parts. The beauty of this type of cabinet is you can get a custom looking kitchen with a reasonable budget. The price level is two to three (out of five).


Styles of Kitchen Cabinets

Framed or Frameless Kitchen Cabinets

Framed or frameless refers to the construction of the kitchen cabinet box. Frameless construction began in Europe and has gained popularity in the US. Proponents of frameless cabinetry claim that you get more interior space. While this is true, the difference is minimal. Frameless cabinetry gives a sleek appearance because the doors and drawers cover most of the edge of the cabinet box and the margins between doors and drawers are minimal. Installation is extremely critical because the tolerances are tight and cabinets must be installed perfectly plumb and level. Framed cabinets, however, have larger margins between doors and drawers and therefore are more forgiving if the installation is less than perfect. The cost between the two cabinet types is negligible.


Plywood vs. Particle Board Kitchen Cabinets

Most stock semi-custom, semi-custom, and full-custom kitchen cabinets feature plywood construction. The advantage of plywood is that it is much lighter than particleboard and screws hold better in plywood. Also, plywood will outlast particleboard if it gets wet. Not too long ago, the vast majority of cabinetry had some particleboard in its construction, but consumers control the marketplace and realizing the value of plywood over particleboard have sought out brands with plywood construction, which has forced most manufacturers to switch to plywood boxes.

Anatomy of a Good Kitchen Cabinet

So, what should you look for when buying a good-quality cabinet? These features are found in good quality kitchen cabinet construction:

• 1/2” plywood box construction using glue, screws and metal brackets.
• ¾” thick face frame made of solid wood (for framed cabinets)
• ½” thick hardwood drawer boxes (dovetailed corners are a plus*).
• ¾” thick plywood shelves
• Doors made of hardwood or MDF **
• Veneer finished sides (as opposed to look-a-like laminate)
• Soft-close door hinges and drawer guides***

As you can see, there are many options when it comes to choosing a kitchen cabinet. At Kitchen Express, we offer a cabinetry selection that appeals to most people. Remodeling your kitchen affordably and stylishly assures you that you’ll have a kitchen that you love working and entertaining in and will add value to your home. Call us today for a free in-home estimate and we’ll show you how beautiful your kitchen could look and how affordable it can be.

* Dovetailed drawer construction refers to the way that the corners of the drawer box and fastened together. Dovetail joints are considered stronger and are more time-consuming to make, therefore more desirable.

** MDF is medium density fiberboard. MDF is a better product to paint because it will not expand and contract and leave open joints like hardwood doors. It is very hard to tell the difference between a MDF and a hardwood door.

*** Soft-closing doors and drawers perform exactly as you would expect. When you push them shut, they close softly. But, they have another feature as well. When you push a door or drawer closed, even if you give it a good shove, it will not slam shut. The soft close hinge or guide is also self-closing and will pull the door or drawer shut. No more cabinet doors or drawers left half-closed.

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