Choosing the perfect cabinet for your home can be overwhelming. Considering the infinite number of styles, colors, wood types, and add-ons that exist make cabinet selection a daunting task for anyone. We’ve put together some best practices to help you choose the cabinet that’s best for you!
At a basic level, cabinets serve the purpose of storing various items. Kitchen cabinets store pots, pans, utensils, small appliances, food, and other kitchen essentials. In the bathroom, you’ll usually find hygiene and beauty products in the vanity. But more than the functional purpose of storage, cabinets also help define your home’s style, which is why it’s important to invest in ones that will not only be durable enough to last for years to come, but will enhance the look and beauty of your home.
The Best Cabinet Type
There are three main types of cabinets: Custom – these are custom-made for your space with custom dimensions and features. They are the most expensive and take the most time to receive once ordered since they’re made from scratch. Semi-custom – serving as a middle-ground between custom and stock, semi-custom cabinets are stock cabinets with some changes, such as added features or altered dimensions. Stock – the least expensive cabinet option is stock. These are pre-made cabinets in predetermined sizes that you can buy off the shelf from home improvement stores, remodelers, and other suppliers. While the majority of people choose to stick with stock or semi-custom due to the price and simplicity of ordering, certain spaces may require the use of custom cabinets to deal with unique wall lengths or other issues requiring custom sizes. Additionally, custom cabinets allow for the most options in terms of detailing, add-ons, and more.
Cabinets can either be frameless or framed construction. Frameless cabinets offer a bit more usable space than their frames counterparts since there is no framing blocking access to the cabinet. Framed cabinets have a frame around the outer edge and are a more traditional cabinet choice. From there, framed cabinets are broken down in to three styles: Full overlay - the doors and drawers fully over the frame. This option is generally a bit more expensive due to the extra material needed. Partial overlay - the doors and drawers only cover part of the frame. This is generally a less expensive option. Inset - The doors and drawers fit within the frame openings. This is generally the most expensive option because of the additional labor involved.
The durability of a cabinet will vary based on its construction, meaning how the wood was manufactured and the joints are formed. Cabinets come in wood and non-wood options: Particle board - essentially just wood bits pressed together with adhesive. This is a cost-effective option found in the majority of homes. Medium density fiberboard - made up of wood fibers, MDF is more durable than particle board, as well as heavier, and is also pressed together with adhesive. Plywood - a higher-quality and more expensive option, plywood is extremely durable and moisture-resistant, making it an ideal cabinet to stand up through the years. Solid wood - an option that generally only makes up part of cabinet (such as the frame or door) made completely from solid wood. Solid wood is more expensive than other options and can expand and contract with moisture or temperature changes. Non-wood options - includes stainless steel, laminate, melamine, and thermofoil. These options, except for stainless steel, are overlaid over wood. Laminate and melamine are plastic-based, while thermofoil is a vinyl that polished and used over wood.
In terms of joints, there are a few options available: Dovetail - The most durable and expensive option, formed by creating an interlocking series of V’s and notches that slide together. Dado - Similar a tongue and groove, a groove is cut into a panel for another panel to slide in to. Most often used to attach a drawer bottom. Rabbet - A method where a step is created in a panel for another panel to rest on and usually strengthened with glue or nails. Mortise and tenon - Created by a joining a post that has a block of wood protruding out of it with a piece that has the same shaped hole. Often used to form cabinet faces. Doweled - Generally used to form the box of a cabinet or drawers, pegs are slid into holes drilled to be the same size. Butt - The least expensive option available, butt joints are made by gluing or nailing two pieces of wood that are butted together.
To bring all the components together, there are often different types of materials and joints used to form the various parts of the cabinet. Doors - Usually made from solid or engineered wood. In some cases, they may be made up of a combination of wood (such as MDF) and an overlay (such as thermofoil). Doors can be slab (one piece) or framed (a frame built around the edge of a center panel). Boxes and frames - Cabinet boxes are made from MDF, particle board, or plywood. In professional or industrial kitchens, boxes may be stainless steel. Frames can be made from the same material or solid wood. Cabinet boxes must be braced to remain rigid. Drawers - Usually made from the same material as the box, the durability of the drawer is what much of the longevity of a cabinet depends on. Dovetail provides the most durable jointing, while doweling is a common method. Dado joints provide a stronger way of attaching drawer bottoms than butt joints Shelves - Made from the same material as other parts of the cabinets, a shelf can range from ½-3/4” thick (3/4” being the most durable) and can be partial depth (less usable space) or full depth (more usable space).
Adding visual interest to your cabinets through various finishing options is a great way to change up the look. Paint - Painting adds an opaque color to your cabinets. Smooth-grained wood will be completely covered while the texture of coarser-grained wood may show through the paint. Cabinets can be painted any color you wish, though white, espresso, and various shades of blue tend to be the most common. Stain - Unlike with paint, stains add a touch of color that’s not opaque, enhancing the beauty of the wood underneath. Stains vary from light to very dark. Glaze - Glazing provides a way to highlight the various edges on cabinet doors and accent pieces. Finishing - To give your cabinets a unique look, various finishing techniques may be applied, including distressing (aging), denting, gouging, or sanding.
Joliet Home Remodeling is a great resource for all things cabinets! Choosing a cabinet can be stressful. Let us help you review your options and pick the best cabinet for your home!