Monday, September 17, 2012

What to Look For in Kitchen Cabinet . . . .




Not all cabinets are made the same.  Pre-fabricated cabinets can be significantly smaller than the space available especially when consider much of the housing stock in Hudson County is in condos were kitchen space is at a real premium.  Construction materials can make a huge difference in how long they last.

Typical costs:
  • Stock cabinets come pre-made in specific styles, shapes and finishes. A lot depends on the size and shape of your kitchen and the total linear feet of cabinets needed. Basic cabinets (top and bottom) for a 10x12-foot kitchen start at $4,000-$5,000 and up, not including installation and countertops.
  • Semi-custom cabinets let you choose from among a number of options, because they're built after you place your order. They're about double the cost of stock; a 10x12 kitchen begins at $8,000-$10,000 with costs rising for glass fronts, hand-crafted finishes, exotic woods, intricate trim patterns or other options.
  • Cabinets custom-made in a particular design or to fit in a specific layout can cost as much as four times stock prices, or $16,000-$20,000 and up, uninstalled and without countertops.


Notice how these cabinets don't go all the way up and the space between the counter and the cabinet is large.  It's easier to see this in person but the point is, pre-fab cabinets tend to be smaller than custom cabinets both in width and height.


Notice how these are shallow  - another sign of pre-fab cabinets.  They like the ones above are not that tall either.  You would be surprised on how much of difference it makes in how much they can hold.

Again, these things are much more noticeable in person.  In person, you can see that these have what appears to be a synthetic veneer on top of some sort of panel.  Press board is terrible it's heavy but not durable and it's why the hinges start to sag on them very quickly.



How do you identify a good cabinet?


Kitchen showrooms are emporiums of grand illusion. The floors always glisten, countertops are uncluttered by coffemakers and the cabinets — wow! The cabinets are always perfect. No scratches, no dings, none of the 3-year-old's favorite stickers, no dishes cramming shelves. The cabinets are stained in the latest colors endorsed by interior design magazines, floated under 16-foot ceilings (so you'll never notice how tall they're not) and lit by several thousand watts of halogen. When the doors swing shut with resounding thumps and the drawers slide to a firm stop, you're sold. Too bad. You think you bought furniture that will last a lifetime, but you probably got dressed-up orange crates that will last barely a decade.


Top-quality kitchen cabinets are made like good furniture, but even the most devoted watchers of the Food Channel don't know what to look for. Worse, what to look for is usually hidden. So let's scrutinize a finely crafted — but unassembled — base cabinet made by a small family-owned company that has only one line of cabinetry — the good stuff.

Print out the article, and take them along the next time you go kitchen cabinet shopping.




The Well-Built Cabinet



Face: All pieces visible from the front of a cabinet. The wood used on the face of a quality cabinet shouldn't have knots, pitch pockets, sanding scars, grain irregularities or color differences.



1. Face-frame stiles and rails are joined with long tenons (protruding wood tongues) and deep mortises (the slots into which tenons fit). Where two pieces of wood meet in a joint, the line between them almost disappears.
2. Drawer fronts are cut from a single piece of solid wood.
3. Flat door panels are made from solid pieces of wood.



End Panel: The side of the cabinet exposed to view.
4. Solid wood is chosen for similarity of grain and color.
5. Frame pieces have mortise-and-tenon joinery; assembled panel is attached to the carcass (a plywood box) with screws driven from the inside out.





Drawer: All sides are made from hardwood 5/8 inch or thicker.

6. All sides are routed with a groove that supports drawer base.
7. Joints are dovetailed at all corners.










Carcass: The plywood box that forms the cabinet's interior, seen here lying on side panel. (Slide 5)
8. Side and floor panels are 1/2 inch minimum thickness.
9. Plywood shelves are at least 3/4 inch thick.
10. Cabinet floor and back fit into a routed side panel.


Details Make the Difference

Tunable Hinges: Whether visible or hidden, a hinge should be not only strong but also adjustable so that doors can align with the surrounding face-frame. 





Floating Panels:  The frames around panels on the cabinet doors and on the exposed side of the cabinet have deep grooves. Panels aren't glued or fastened into the grooves, which allows them to expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity without cracking or pushing the frame apart. Tiny pads keep the panels centered. 


Drawer Slides: A drawer supported by two side-mounted slides is much stronger than one that runs over a single slide centered underneath. The quietest slides run on nylon bearings. A good slide can carry loads of at least 75 pounds and will allow a drawer to open fully.

Frame-to-Carcass Joints: A strong connection between the carcass and the face frame (the five narrow pieces of wood that surround the drawer and the doors) is a mark of good craftsmanship. At the bottom corner of the back of the face frame, the vertical piece (the stile) has a wide groove, which locks onto the side panel of the carcass. The narrow groove across the horizontal piece (the rail) lines up with an identical groove in the floor of the cabinet. Biscuits glued into these grooves join the rail to the cabinet floor. 

Frame-to-Carcass Joints: A strong connection between the carcass and the face frame (the five narrow pieces of wood that surround the drawer and the doors) is a mark of good craftsmanship. At the bottom corner of the back of the face frame, the vertical piece (the stile) has a wide groove, which locks onto the side panel of the carcass. The narrow groove across the horizontal piece (the rail) lines up with an identical groove in the floor of the cabinet. Biscuits glued into these grooves join the rail to the cabinet floor.

Shelf Locks:  Shelves should be adjustable and supported by metal brackets, not plastic ones. To keep the shelf from wandering, a locking device such as a plastic retainer plugs into an adjustment hole above.




Provided by Donna Antonucci
Prudential Castle Point Realty
201-240-6832

www.hobokenrealestatemonitor.com
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