If it’s been a while since you last shopped for kitchen cabinets, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that many styles and features that previously were offered only with custom cabinets are now standard in more affordable lines. If you’ve never shopped for cabinets before, you may be surprised simply by how many options there are. You can buy cabinets at home centers, cabinet showrooms and custom cabinet shops.
If you’re working with a kitchen designer, he or she will help you with every step of your cabinet purchase. Many home centers and showrooms also have designers on staff who can assist you as well. A general contractor may help you buy cabinets or refer you to a reputable designer or showroom. In any case, you’ll want to be familiar with cabinet construction and know how to spot a quality product.
The Three Grades of Cabinets
Kitchen cabinets are generally divided into three grades, based on how they are constructed. To some extent, the grades indicate quality, but not very accurately. The best test of quality is a thorough physical inspection
Stock cabinets are factory-made to standard sizes and are typically sold off-the-shelf in home centers. Widths range from 9 in. to 48 in., in 3 in. increments. Stock cabinets are the least expensive of the three grades, but they offer the fewest design options. While the quality is generally lower, a well-made stock cabinet can be a very good value. If your stock cabinets have to be ordered, it may be a couple of days to a couple of weeks before they arrive.
Semi-custom kitchen cabinets are also factory-made to standard sizes, but they offer far more options of finish, size, features and materials than stock cabinets. These are typically sold in showrooms and are priced between stock and custom cabinets. Semi-custom are the best choice for homeowners who want better-quality cabinets with some special features but don’t want to pay the high prices for a custom product. You should allow 3 to 8 weeks lead time when ordering semi-custom cabinets.
Custom cabinets offer the most in both quality and available options. Each unit is custom-built to fit your kitchen. It’s wise to shop around before settling on a custom kitchen cabinets maker, as prices can vary widely If you choose to have your cabinets custom-made, expect a lead time of about 6 to 10 weeks.
Selecting a Cabinet Type
Cabinets are available in two types:
Face frame, and frame – less, or Euro-style.
Face-frame cabinets have frames around the front of the cabinet box, or carcass, made of solid hardwood. The doors on face-frame cabinets mount over the frame, and the hinges are exposed. Face-frame cabinets typically have a more traditional look. Frameless cabinets have no face-frame and the doors span the entire width of the carcass. The doors are mounted using cap hinges, which are invisible when the doors are closed. The plainer, cleaner styling of frame-less cabinets gives them a contemporary look.
There are no distinct advantages or disadvantages between the two cabinet types. However, by virtue of not having a face frame, frameless cabinets offer slightly more storage space than framed types, and their drawers are a bit wider, for the same reason.
To be sure you’re getting your money’s worth with your kitchen cabinetspurchase, inspect all the major components.