Kitchen Cabinet ConstructionJanuary 13, 2017
Every part of your kitchen serves an important function in the food preparation process, and your cabinetry is no exception. Cabinets are not only used to store dry goods like cereal and baking supplies, but they also serve to house cooking tools (pots, pans, and small appliances) and dining implements (dishes and utensils).
Kitchen cabinet construction is important for some reasons. For one thing, you want your kitchen space to be attractive since you spend a lot of time in this hub of the home. Subpar cabinets that lean or sag can compromise function and undermine an otherwise beautiful kitchen aesthetic.
Also, your cabinets need to support the weight of the items in cupboards and drawers, and you want to make sure that they are capable of keeping out children, pets, dust, and even pests. In other words, the way in which your cabinets are constructed is of great importance, especially since frequent kitchen remodels are out of the question for most homeowners.
As a consumer, you may not know a lot about how kitchen cabinets are constructed or what to look for when you purchase new cabinetry. However, you’re the one who has to live with them, so you need to do some research to make informed decisions. Here are just a few things you should know about cabinet construction before you start your kitchen remodel.
Choosing Quality Materials
When it comes to cabinet construction, there are a wide variety of materials to choose from, with the most common being some form of wood. Generally speaking, cabinets are not made from solid wood as it is simply too expensive when compared to engineered wood products that function just as well. It is, however, normal to see products listed as “all wood,” which implies composite materials like particle board, medium density fiberboard (MDF), or plywood.
The most common material used for kitchen cabinetry is particle board, which consists of wood chips fused together with adhesive to create a strong, durable wood product (similar to MDF, which is made with wood fibers). It is often faced with a wood veneer for visual appeal. If you opt for particle board construction, just make sure to look for products that are at least half an inch thick for sturdy construction and adequate support.
Plywood is also common and is considered more stable than some particle board or MDF products. It is also higher-end and may, therefore, entail greater expense. Some cabinet manufacturers only offer plywood in certain product lines, or not at all.
Stainless steel cabinets are also an option, although they’re not nearly as popular as wood construction due to the high cost and the fact that they are particularly difficult to keep clean. Stainless steel is a magnet for fingerprints and smudges, making it less than ideal for the average, high-traffic kitchen space.
Understanding Joint Construction
Solid construction materials are of little consequence if the joints used in building cabinetry are weak, so it’s important to know what to look for if you want to ensure sturdy and long-lasting kitchen cabinets. Dovetail joints are considered extremely strong, but unless cabinets are delivered fully finished, you probably don’t want to mess with trying to put together such cabinetry yourself.
A better option to look for is ado joints, especially if cabinets are ready to assemble (RTA), as opposed to already assembled (although this type of construction is also desirable in assembled cabinetry). Dado joints include a groove carved into one panel, into which an adjoining panel is inserted. This type of construction is much stronger than simply gluing, nailing, or screwing pieces together.
Framed versus Frameless Construction
Generally speaking, the average homeowner will almost certainly prefer framed construction, which consists of a front face, or frame; that delineates where doors and drawers will go. Although frameless construction may free up more cabinet space for usage, it is not ideal regarding construction.
The front face of a cabinet completes the four-sided box, making for much sturdier construction and helping cabinets to remain true (rather than listing or sagging). It also creates a separation of space thanks to the framing that makes the addition of doors and drawers easier. Traditional, framed cabinets are much more common than frameless construction because of their many advantages regarding form and function.
Cabinet construction includes not only the cabinet boxes but also what is inside them. Once you’ve found solid materials and sturdy construction, it’s time to consider how you’re going to use cabinets and what additional amenities you prefer.
Many cabinet manufacturers offer extras that help to make your kitchen more functional and convenient. Spice racks, plate racks, wine racks, and more can all increase utility and organization in this busy space, and pull-out drawers can help you to make the most of the cabinet space at your disposal by keeping everything in easy reach. Think about these things when finding a suitable manufacturer and determining the cabinets that will best suit your kitchen space and your lifestyle.