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Everything You Need To Know About Cabinets July 18, 2010

When you think about cabinets, more often than not, you think of kitchen cabinets. These are the hottest cabinet items in the market today because of their functionality, importance, and versatility. However, there is more to cabinets than kitchen cabinets, as cabinetry encompasses all facets of home decoration.

Cabinets are more than just storage. They speak of your personality, your taste, and your sense of style. The possibilities are endless, but it boils down to what your choice is. In terms of style, there are just too many different kinds of cabinets to chose from. But they are basically subsumed into common classifications such as framed or frameless, stock or custom made, traditional, country, or modern style, made of hardwood, wood veneers or other materials.

Stock and Custom Cabinets

Cabinets are generally classified into stock cabinets and custom cabinets. Stock cabinets are those cabinets that are pre-fabricated and can be bought “off the rack” in many cabinet shops. Custom cabinets, on the other hand ordinarily refer to cabinets that are specially built by cabinet makers to fit a homeowner’s very detailed specifications, and are usually done on site (homeowner’s house).

Framed and Frameless Cabinets

A framed cabinet is a cabinet with a frame attached to the front edges of its body. This is also known as traditional, face-framed or American-style cabinet. A frameless cabinet, as the name implies, is one that has no frame attached to the surrounding face of the body. This is the standard among European-style cabinets.

Traditional, Country, Or Contemporary Style

If one goes by tradition, all kitchen cabinets are made from hardwood and are fastened to the kitchen walls. But nowadays, permanently fixed cabinets have given way to standalone mobile cabinets that may come in unconventional materials such as glass or plastics. Traditional style cabinets are appealing to more people because of its’ ageless look.

Country style cabinets give a comfortable, cozy and welcoming feel to a room. Hardwood is the best material to start with if you want a country feel to your cabinets, as this can blend well with florals or nature-inspired textiles or designs.

There are countless other styles to choose from, enough to get you more confused on choices to be made. To avoid this, It would be best to know where to look in the first place. Browse through magazines, woodworking books, or cabinet shops. You can expand your search to websites on home and furnishings. But do not forget to choose a style that would naturally blend with design and architecture of your house.

Solid Wood, Bonded Wood, and Wood Veneers

It’s been a long time since having new cabinets means getting the services of a cabinet maker or getting down to your work clothes to make customary wood cabinets. As technology and skills improve through time, the possibilities have become endless. Old and new materials offer other different classifications of cabinets.

Solid Wood

Because of its versatility and ageless look and appeal, wood has become the most common material used for cabinets. It gives out a warm, homely atmosphere, and blends well with almost any kind of interior design and décor. The different kinds of wood species furthermore give more varied options, but your choice would eventually depend on your personal style and budget. Wood is the most sought after material for custom cabinets.

Wood materials come from either two types of trees: hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwood wood materials come from coniferous trees, or trees that are easy to saw. Softwood wood materials come from dicotyledonous or hard-to-cut trees.

Different wood species fetch different prices, depending on its availability and overall appearance. There are so many materials to choose from: maple, oak, cherry, hickory, yellow birch, or pine.

Oak was the heavy favorite among cabinet builders until recently, when maple became more popular in the cabinet industry. It is very adaptable to any kind of cabinet style due to its light and regular grain texture. Very similar to maple in terms of versatility, is the yellow birch variety. With its strength and wide range of colors, it is a favorite choice for kitchen cabinets.

Cherry wood colors range from pinkish to red-brown when aged and exposed to sunlight. Hickory is a light colored to reddish brown hardwood that is best for a staining finish. While pinewood is the most inexpensive variety, it needs special handling and preparations due to its east exposure to bums and scratches.

Exotic wood fetch higher prices as these are the more rare varieties. Among those belonging to this category are mahogany, ebony, and walnut. Mahogany is mostly come from tropical rainforests. Its’ reddish brown color and regular grain qualities make it a perfect alternative to old oak wood. Walnut colors range from dark brown to a purplish shade of black. Ebony wood generally refers to very dark or black wood.

Bonded Wood

Bonding refers to the process of making large wood materials from several smaller pieces of wood. Bonding processes vary. One way is cutting wide boards into narrow parts, then glued together to create the desired width or shape. Blocks of wood may also be glued together to make up a single part of a cabinet. Another process involves wood chips or small wood particles mixed with a gluing substance, the processed to make durable wood particleboards. And lastly, the process of bonding several layers of particleboards may be done to come up with plywood panels that are ideal for adding strength to softwood cabinets.

Wood Veneers

Wood veneers are thin layers of wood materials from superior species of wood. These are glued to the main cabinet material, usually plywood or plasticboard. This is the best option for a more versatile wood cabinet accented by different wood patterns and textures. Wood veneers are aesthetically effective not only for raised panel cabinet doors, but also for flat or recessed cabinet doors.

A word of caution for the budget conscious: While wood veneer as an alternative to wood seems to imply that is an inexpensive material, very elaborate veneering designs would result in more expensive work pieces.

 

Shopping for Kitchen Cabinets: Choosing the Right Kitchen Cabinet for your Price Range July 7, 2010

Kitchen Cabinets are by and large the core of any kitchen. They can be highlighted by kitchen appliances such as the refrigerator, stove, cooktop, dishwasher and microwave, or these appliances can be modified to blend in by using panels that match your kitchen cabinets.

Shopping for kitchen cabinets can be intimidating, especially for a first time buyer. There are hundreds/thousands of major kitchen cabinet companies, and many more smaller custom kitchen cabinet shops where you can get any cabinet made from any species of wood that your mind can imagine. Add to that list the explosion of RTA Kitchen Cabinet importers, and the laminated cabinet manufacturers, and suddenly the list can be overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that higher price always means high quality in construction, or more features being available.

In the past, pricing had always been the way to categorize kitchen cabinets. Traditionally, tthe higher-quality cabinets simply cost more money. As I mentioned before, with more and more importers conforming to the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association) building standards, some of the RTA Kitchen Cabinets or Stock kitchen cabinets can actually be a sturdier cabinet than the traditional, made to order cabinets. Regardless of what type of kitchen cabinet you decide to go with, it does not take much effort to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the actual kitchen cabinets.

Most kitchen cabinet manufacturers build their kitchen base and wall cabinets in standard sizes. The kitchen base cabinets are often 34.5 inches tall and 24 inches deep. They come in widths starting at 12 inches and can go up to 48 inches often in increasing width increments of 3 inches. Kitchen wall cabinets are often 12 inches deep and 30 inches or 42 inches tall. They also come in the same size widths as the base cabinets. Wall cabinets also come in several different heights and depths for locations such as over the refrigerator or over the microwave/hood range unit. With custom kitchen cabinets, you have even more choices available, since the kitchen cabinets will be created specifically for your kitchen space.

Different semi-custom kitchen cabinet manufacturers make different-sized kitchen cabinets for all sorts of special looks and situations. It is not uncommon to have one cabinet extend beyond adjacent cabinets to create a distinguished look. It pays to shop around to see all of the different possibilities and special cabinet features offered by the custom and semi-custom kitchen cabinet manufacturers.

One of the biggest advantages to true custom kitchen cabinets is the ability to make one giant base or wall kitchen cabinet instead of separate boxes that are screwed together by the installer at the jobsite. A custom-cabinet maker can easily make one giant base cabinet 8 feet long that installs as if it were a piece of furniture. The same is true for wall kitchen cabinets. The advantage of this method is the lack of vertical seams where two traditional cabinet boxes would mate up to one another.

Pay particular attention to the materials used to build the kitchen cabinets. Some kitchen cabinets are made with minimal-quality engineered lumber, particleboard, or fiberboard. . If you plan to load a wall cabinet with heavy traditional china, the weight of the dishes may cause the cabinet to pull apart over time. This is particularly true when it comes to the semi-custom cabinets that the name brand cabinet manufacturers sell at the big box stores (which is why price is not always an accurate gauge of cabinet quality). Many of the RTA Kitchen Cabinet manufacturers use solid plywood sides, which obviously creates a strong kitchen cabinet box than a particleboard or fiberboard box. When it comes to custom cabinets, the material choices are endless and can usually be specified by the customer.

Another factor that will determine the price of kitchen cabinets is the material used to hold it together. Custom kitchen cabinet manufacturers will often use a combination of dovetailed joints, wood biscuits, and glue to create tight joints. Mid-grade kitchen cabinets will have a wide range of materials holding them together (staples and nails on the lower end, to cam lock assembly and wood glue on the higher end). Most RTA Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers utilize the cam lock system, which creates a nice sturdy cabinet, and when enhanced with wood glue, can last a life time. Steer away from any kitchen cabinets that are using staples, wooden dowels, or just screws. The strength of the cabinet will be compromised at the joints with these weaker joining materials.

I have been remodeling houses for over 10 years, and have been able to weed out some of the kitchen cabinet choices that didn’t work for me. If you are interested in learning more about my personal preferences, check out my author bio.