We often think of cabinets as part of the kitchen or bathroom. However, cabinets can be found in the family room, bedrooms, laundry, garage, or home office as well. When looking for cabinets, keep in mind there are three basic types of cabinets: pre-fabricated, semi-custom, and custom.
Pre-fabricated cabinetry is often advertised in home magazines or displayed in home improvement stores and lumber companies. These are usually the most cost effective. The various lines are available in an array of designs, each offering a number of stock sizes. Your kitchen or bath (or laundry or office) is measured and a schematic of a cabinet design is created. If you can’t fill the space exactly, a cabinet size may be adjusted, or matching strips of cabinet material may be added to hide any gaps. Most home improvement stores like Lowes or Home Depot have folks who can assist you with measurement and design if needed.
Some pre-fabricated cabinets are made of particleboard covered with laminate. These are made of solid panels of hardwoods such as oak, and then stained. Other cabinets may have real wood doors with particleboard of laminate materials used to create the cabinet ‘boxes.’ Shelves or doors may be a wood veneer over particleboard.
Semi-custom cabinets have more options for woods and styles than are available in basic stock cabinets. They tend to be more expensive. They still come in stock sizes, though, and can be ordered more quickly than custom cabinets.
Custom cabinetry is noticeably more expensive because it is designed specifically for your home. Custom cabinets are often constructed of more exotic woods like walnut or cherry, and often are of higher quality construction than the pre-fabricated options. You also have more ability to custom design the area you intend to put install the custom cabinets.
There are four elements to look for in a good cabinet. Look for solid wood drawers that are dovetailed, and not stapled or glued. The drawers should glide easily without any sticking. The best cabinets have all-metal hinges that are hidden inside the door and not visible when the door is closed. The quality of this hardware will vary with the different price ranges. Last, make sure the shelves don’t bow when weight is added.
It is imperative that the cabinets are level so that the counter surfaces will be level too. Make sure your cabinets are installed by a manufacturer’s representative or an experienced worker supervised by your builder. I have a great crew of vendors who have been installing cabinets for many years. They can also assist you with design and installation. Just send me an email at Nancy@NancyHankin.com and I will be happy to send you my list of Preferred and Referred Vendors.
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