As far as kitchens are concerned, cabinets are without a doubt the most important aspect of the space. Functional and aesthetic, they serve an essential purpose and define the look and appeal of your kitchen. Unfortunately, like all things, over time, cabinets do need to be replaced. It can be exciting to shop for new cabinets when they have so many features and add-ons to consider, but chances are, if given the choice, you’d like to get higher quality for less money, and would like to keep your next set of cabinets for more than a few years. Understanding the wide variety of different cabinets and their anatomy can help them last a lot longer when you make a purchase, as you’ll be able to purchase the right cabinet to fit your kitchen environment.
Knowing the makeup of a kitchen cabinet, especially if you’re going to build custom cabinets, is vital for getting the most out of your money. There are seven essential components to a cabinet, and knowing their functions will make smart shopping much easier.
- The carcass is the cabinet box itself. It supports the weight of loaded shelves and in the case of the lower cabinets, the weight of the counter tops as well
- Corner braces help to maintain the carcass’s square shape during shipping and installation
- Doors don’t tend to have any particular features that carry required technical knowledge; their differences lie in their design, and therefore any choices made pertaining to the door are purely made with aesthetics in mind
- The drawers are fitted into the body of the cabinet and are made mobile by glides which are fitted either to the side of the bottom of the drawer
- The face frame is quite literally a frame that provides a rigidity for the front of the body and offers a sturdy mount for hinges
- The toekick does double duty by providing a recess for feet and closing gaps at the cabinet base
Cabinet Cost and Maintenance
Knowing the anatomy of a cabinet is all well and good, but knowing their costs and maintenance requirements is vital as well. Stock cabinets traditionally start at $35 per linear foot, while semi-custom cabinets start at closer to $90, and custom cabinets start at $150, with the potential to increase dramatically from there. If you possess the base technical skills and knowledge, it’s possible to install stock and semi-custom cabinets yourself, but custom cabinets should be handled by professionals, in part to protect the warranty if something goes awry. If you’re worried about longevity, rest assured that properly cared for certified cabinets can sometimes last multiple decades. Of course, the aspect of proper care is in your hands. Any spills or liquids on your cabinets should be quickly wiped away, and you should always avoid using coarse scrubbers or bleach/ammonia based cleaners, which can cause damage to both the finish and the wood beneath. Screws and hinges should be checked regularly for looseness as well, and be tightened accordingly.
But of course, knowing the pros and cons between different types of cabinets may be the most important thing for a homeowner looking to complete a renovation to know. Stock cabinets are by far the most common, not to mention the least expensive option. They’re ideal for tight budgets or quick remodels, though they are more limited in aesthetic and sizing options than their brethren. They’re a pretty default breed, and can be acquired from most home improvement stores. However, don’t expect incredible cabinets for the $35 starting price.
Semi-custom cabinets, on the other hand, have a much wider array of finishes and special touches, though they are moderately more expensive than stock. They can be acquired from catalogues and showrooms, but require about six weeks for delivery, so they certainly aren’t a quick option.
Finally, if you really want to create a refined kitchen and have the budget to do so, custom cabinets are your best bet. They have the widest array of options, finishes, and touches to choose from. You can get them from special showrooms or local cabinet makers, but they require much more time to deliver: anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months depending on your purchasing source.
Simply put, knowing the ins and outs of all the cabinet options is the best way to make your kitchen renovation painless and easy.
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