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How Do I Know if a Cabinet Is Good Quality?

How Do I Know if a Cabinet Is Good Quality?

When homeowners walk into our cabinet showroom, we invite them to test the cabinet doors and drawers. Open, close, open, close – this helps you “feel” the quality. New cabinets will be the foundation of your design whether you are building or remodeling a kitchen or bath in your home. If you are asking the question how do I know if a cabinet is good quality, we are happy to provide the basic elements of beautiful, quality cabinetry.

But when it comes to cabinet construction itself, what are you looking for? Not all cabinets are created equal. How do you know if a cabinet is good quality? Here are 5 elements that should be on your radar when shopping for quality cabinetry for your kitchen or bath.

Integrated panel refrigeration with quality cabinets

1. How are the cabinets constructed?

This is usually the boring part of the research process. But it’s actually just as important to know about construction, joints, and bracing of cabinets as it is what kind of materials the box is made from. Glue is often used as part of constructing cabinet boxes, so don’t be alarmed if you see a touch of dried glue on the inside corners. However, the process is more than just gluing pieces of wood together. When a deep groove meets a matching joint, this joint is strong and the glue has more surface to adhere to for extra strength. (This is what we call a “dado joint.”) The “bracing” of the cabinet box is also extremely important for strength and durability. Wood or engineered I-Beams let into the sides, front, and back are preferred for base cabinet construction. Thick cabinet backs let-into the cabinet sides is preferred for wall cabinets. Whether framed or frameless construction, joints, bracing and material thickness keep a cabinet from falling apart and help keep it square.

2. What is the difference between traditional wood cabinet boxes and frameless cabinet boxes?

A traditional wood cabinet box has a face frame (usually 1 ½ inches wide) where the door closes onto the cabinet. If you’re considering a traditional, framed cabinet, and have already confirmed solid construction, good joinery, sturdy bracing, and an all-wood frame, then you’d be making a classic choice. However, if you’re impressed with more accessibility and more useable space inside the cabinet, then frameless (also called “European-style” or “full-access” cabinets) might be the way to go. Frameless describes a process of building a cabinet without the front frame. It doesn’t mean your cabinets will look European because your cabinet door will actually be what determines the style. Cabinet manufacturers offer traditional, transitional or contemporary door styles in both framed and frameless cabinetry. However, the most contemporary kitchens or baths are using frameless cabinetry.

3. What’s the difference between plywood and particleboard?

Throughout the industry, plywood is considered the better choice. Plywood is usually stronger than particleboard and doesn’t expand as easily in moist environments. Is particleboard always bad? Not always. If your cabinet layout includes cabinet boxes next to each other, and they are constructed properly, then the particleboard sides are “buried” and unseen. However, on end cabinets with sides exposed, have your designer specify a “finished end” with a plywood side, or at least an engineered side which has a veneer of real wood. The worst aspect of a particle board cabinet is to have a paper or “picture” of wood on an exposed end rather than real wood. One final thought: if we’re talking about drawers, thin particleboard drawers with staples for joints would not have the lifespan of their wood counterparts. Some cabinet lines may try to cut corners and use particleboard for drawer boxes. Beware!

4. What about the drawers?

In a traditionally framed cabinet, all-wood drawer boxes are the best. The joinery should be dovetailed with the drawer bottom made of a sufficiently dimensioned plywood. The drawer hardware (glides and soft-close hardware) is critical to the sturdiness. Remember, slamming drawers often happens in the bustle of a kitchen. But with the mechanical advancement of slides and soft-close hardware, you can make slamming drawers a thing of the past! For frameless cabinets, soft-close is a must as well, but the drawer boxes can be wood or metal. And always purchase full-extension glides so that you don’t lose useful space!

Kitchen cabinets with dovetail drawers

5. Is the cabinet warranty essential?

Yes! Here is a typical cabinet warranty example from Medallion’s cabinet warranty. While manufacturer warranties are important, what is most important is the stability and longevity of the company with which you are doing business. Warranties are only valuable if the company is still in business when you need them. Even a good manufacturing company’s warranty is difficult to use if there are no dealers around to service the product. And dealers generally don’t like to service product purchased from a competing dealer. Purchasing any large ticket items should be from a local business that has been around a long time and has a good service reputation.

Conclusion

Because not all cabinets are created equal, you have to do your research on how they are made in order to really assess their quality. To answer your question, how do I know if a cabinet is good quality? In summary, look for dado joints, all-wood frame and drawers, dovetailed drawers, soft-close drawer hardware, and a lifetime warranty. Don’t be fooled, just because a door style is contemporary and the drawer mechanics are soft-close doesn’t mean the cabinetry is of a good quality. Follow the guidelines in the five questions above, and you will be on your way to finding quality cabinetry.

Traditional vs Transitional Kitchen Design

Traditional vs Transitional Kitchen Design

Often when homeowners are browsing Houzz.com, they add dozens of kitchen photos into ideabooks without knowing which style of kitchen those photos represent. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when you’re a homeowner ready to start making decisions on your kitchen remodel, knowing what style and trends you like will help narrow your design options and direct your focus.

When you have hundreds of options before you and a limited budget, knowing your personal style will help make the decision process easier for you and your kitchen designer. (more…)

Tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love (Part 3)

Tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love (Part 3)

We’d like to offer you the “final four” of our twelve tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love. Our homeowners found it a great help to have our recommendations and lists of things to consider. Just as they did, you need to be informed to make the best decisions and get the most for your money.

green exotic bathroom luxury shower head

Heads Up

In many showers you will find a single fixed head, a hand-held, or both. If you opt for both, be sure to get a 2-in-1 valve that keeps the wet wall uncluttered. Be sure your main shower head offers decent coverage and has an optional function for pressure.

Your Style

Prior to remodeling consider the items and colors already in your home. Make sure your choices fit your personality. Your style need not be sacrificed for the sake of comfort, convenience and safety. The end result should create a balance of form and function.

Price

No matter which design elements or products you choose, a good design will keep you informed: from labor cost to product cost, know where your money is going.

Timeline

Simply put, doing it right is more important than doing it fast. Understand somethings cannot be predicted. Give your contractors a little extra buffer in the timeline.

Once you’ve considered all of these “comfort” features, then you can price them out and choose which ones to add to your remodel. Your budget may not be able to include all 12 of our suggestions.

(In case you landed on this page out of order, don’t forget to read Tips for a Master Bath Remodel You’ll Love Part 1 and Part 2 to get more all our tips for remodeling a bathroom.) But these are the master bath features that our clients have truly fallen in love with.

Tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love (Part 2)

Tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love (Part 2)

We’re continuing our 3-part series describing what homeowners love about their master bathrooms. But, before you begin remodeling a master bathroom, you will want to consider every option and be aware of the best features in modern bathroom design.

Here are four more bath remodel recommendations from our designers and homeowners:

modern faucet with hammer copper sink

Warm & Cozy

Tile is cold! Electric warm wire floor heat is less expensive than you may think. You’d be hard pressed to find any real regrets with a heated floor.

Slow Down

Add soft-closing drawer glides for cabinet drawers, soft-closing cushions for the cabinet doors and a slow-closing seat for the water closet. There are even soft-close glides for pocket doors.

Savvy Safety

Grab bars are far more common today even among the young and healthy. There are designer grab bars that match the finish and style of your faucets. No need to sacrifice aesthetics for safety!

On the Shelf

Shelves can be a nice-looking, functional feature in the shower. Whether it’s a framed out shelf on the back wall or opposite the wet wall, a floating corner shelf, or a niche, a properly designed shelf is the way to go. Floating shelves in other locations can add character and interest.

So what have you chosen to implement in your bath remodel plans so far? What can you not live without? What will make you smile each day and think “I’m so glad we went with _____________.” We’d love to hear your feedback on our Studio 76 Kitchens and Baths Facebook page.

Tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love (Part 1)

Tips for a master bath remodel you’ll love (Part 1)

You have been scheming and waiting, perhaps doing other projects around the house that are more important first. Now it’s time to focus on remodeling a master bathroom.

This is a one-time remodel project, and you want to get it right the first time. We’ve partnered with many homeowners on remodeling a master bathroom, and in this 3-part blog series we’d like to share 12 best bath remodel tips with you.

So what are the characteristics that homeowners find most satisfying in their master bath remodels (i.e. what people love about their new bathrooms)?

Heightened Comfort

Consider a 34 1/2″ vanity, which is the customary adult height for a vanity. (The old vanity height of 30” is no longer used except for special circumstances.) Be sure to get a toilet that is a comfortable height for you. Toilet manufacturers may use the term “comfort height” which is considered the normal adult height. Also consider raising the shower valve and shower head to give you that luxurious rainfall effect.

Smart Storage

You want storage options that not only look great, but also allow for easy everyday access of product you use daily. If in the remodel you are tearing out the old linen closet, consider extra built-in cabinetry or baskets displaying rolled up linens.

Plug & Hide

If your design includes two sinks and can spare 15-18 inches in between sinks, look into a countertop cabinet with a lift door. With an outlet installed inside the cabinet, you now have a use-and-stash option for hair appliances, shavers, phone chargers and more. Why not hide all those appliances and cords?

traditional bathroom with lift door storage

Make it Last

Clean, simple lines combined with classic elements help a design withstand the passage of time. Color palettes evolve so incorporate color through paint, fabric and accessories. Do your best to avoid trends in product and design.

Those are just four tips for remodeling a master bathroom. Read Part 2 & Part 3 to get more tips for a great master bath that you will love for years to come!