Neal's Home Remodeling and Design Blog

The Basics of Kitchen Cabinets

Posted by Connie Hampton, CKD on Tue, Aug 8, 2017

Updated: 8/8/17 | Original Post: 11/6/2012

Selecting cabinets is one of the most important steps in planning a kitchen remodeling project. There are many products on the market with a wide variety of features and prices. Before choosing kitchen cabinets, it’s important to understand the basics of kitchen cabinets, how cabinets are made and the options available to you. Here are the four basics to get you started.

44133_54.jpg
Semi-custom cabinets in this West Chester kitchen remodel help with the custom-looking fit around the range.

1. Cabinet Type

Manufacturers make three types of cabinets: stock, semi-custom and custom cabinetry.

Stock cabinets are made in standard sizes, based on 3 inch increments. These cabinets are sold at home improvement stores, and are the least expensive. They are typically produced in limited styles and finishes.

Semi-custom cabinets are available in more sizes, and offer an array of design options such as door styles, inserts, moldings and finishes. They are built to order by the manufacturer and generally are more expensive than stock cabinets. Consumer Reports notes that semi-custom cabinets may be the best value overall because they offer many made-to-order custom features.

Custom cabinets are built to specifications and can be fashioned in any material, style or size. While this does offer a lot in the way of options, it is the most expensive cabinet type.

44117_02b.jpg
This Indian Hill kitchen remodel used inset cabinets to give the space a more traditional look.

2. Cabinet Construction

You will find three types of construction used for cabinets: framed, frameless and inset.

Framed cabinets have a solid wood frame attached to the cabinet box to add rigidity and provide support for attaching hinges. Hinges can be hidden or exposed. The frame overlaps the cabinet opening so the space allotted for shelves and drawers is smaller than the width of the cabinet. Framed cabinets are the most popular in our market area.

Frameless cabinets, or frameless construction, originated in Europe to create a streamlined ergonomic cabinet with more interior space. Door hinges are not visible. Installing frameless cabinetry can be more time consuming because they must be squared precisely.

Inset cabinets have doors and drawers that fit flush with the cabinet frame. The door front appears to be "framed" on the cabinet front.

44147_56.jpg
Quality can be observed in kitchen cabinets by looking at the interiors, like this pullout drawer cabinet in a Western Hills kitchen.

3. Cabinet Features

High quality, durable cabinets will have many of the following features:

  • Face frames, door frames, door fronts and drawers made from solid wood.
  • Corner braces.
  • Plywood sides and rear panels in the cabinet box. The plywood should be ½” to ¾” in density. Particle board boxes are a good alternative if installed properly.
  • Drawers with wood or plywood sides at least ½” thick.
  • Dovetailed or doweled joints on drawers. Glued or stapled joints will not be as durable.
  • Doors and drawers that open without wobbling. When you visit a showroom, test the drawers and doors of cabinets on display.
  • Hinges that keep doors aligned made of chrome, nickel or brass.
  • Full extension drawer glides.
  • Adjustable shelves.
  • Shelving made from ¾” plywood or MDF (medium density fiberboard). Lesser quality shelf boards may sag or bow.

45060_11.jpgA warranty helps protect the homeowners of this Cleves kitchen from issues that may show up in their cabinet investment.

4. Warranties

Manufacturers of quality cabinets typically offer limited or lifetime warranties. Read the warranty to determine what it covers. Most warranties address flaws in workmanship and defects in materials. A Warranty protects your cabinet investment and helps ensure that you are getting a quality product.

Plan, Design & Budget the Kitchen of Your Dreams with our Free Guide

Topics: Kitchens