It’s All About the Journey . . . Kitchen Cabinets 101

Probably more than any other element, cabinetry sets the tone for the look and feel of your kitchen.  There are so many choices to make, from materials and finishes to styles and hardware, it can all be a little overwhelming.

In this blog we’re focusing on one of the first steps in kitchen remodeling – deciding what kind of cabinets you want to install.  Making the right choices will help the room feel welcoming, efficient and easy to use.  According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, nearly half of the average kitchen remodeling budget goes toward cabinets. There are three basic categories to choose from:  stock, semi-custom and custom.  The categories are not necessarily an indication of quality; fine cabinetry can be had in all three.

Stock Cabinets

Stock cabinets come in many styles. They can be ordered through retailers, home improvement centers, or from manufacturer’s catalogs.  The cost is between $60 and $200 per linear foot.  These are usually the most economical choice because they are readily available.  Unfortunately, because they are already built, they don’t come in special sizes. Filler strips can be used to close gaps between walls or appliances, but that’s pretty much the extent for customization.

    Semi-Custom Cabinets

These cabinets are basically stock cabinets with extra detailing options. Basic cabinet sizes still apply, but you can change certain dimensions.  Storage units and accessories such as pullout bins and lazy Susans can be integrated into the design.  There is also a broader selection of finishes and cabinet depths that will give a more custom look to your kitchen. Semi-custom cabinets usually run between $100 and $650 per linear foot.   The disadvantages are their higher price tag and they may take a month or longer to be delivered.

  Custom Cabinets

These units are usually built by a local cabinetmaker and are highly personalized.  You can choose any material, size, shape, or configuration that fits into your design and whatever finish you prefer.  Custom cabinets usually cost $500 to $1,200 per linear foot.  The obvious advantage is that your kitchen will look and function exactly the way you want.  If you have an oddly shaped kitchen, or a curved wall, it can be perfectly fitted with custom cabinets.  You can also accommodate specialized storage needs.  Far and away, the biggest downside of creating custom cabinets is their expense.  For those who like quick results, don’t expect to unveil your dream kitchen any time soon; true custom cabinets take at least 10 weeks – and often longer than that – to complete.

   When comparing cabinets, ask about construction details and look for these signs of lasting quality (details are a little “dry” but important to consider):

  • Solid-wood face frames with doweled-and-glued joints, unless the cabinet is frameless.

  • Solid-wood drawer fronts and door frames; solid or swell-veneered door panels.

  • Solid-wood or plywood drawer sides at least ½” thick, with doweled or dovetailed joints.

  • Self-closing drawer and tray glides able to bear at least 75-100 pounds each. Ball bearings are best.  (Full-extension glides increase storage space).

  • Corner braces, plywood sides, and rear panels in the cabinet box.

  • Adjustable shelves in wall cabinets.

  • Pullout trays instead of fixed shelves in lower cabinets.

Congratulations! You’ve graduated from Kitchen Cabinets 101!  Hopefully this guide will help get your project started and make the process of creating your dream kitchen a little less overwhelming.


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