Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What to Look for When Replacing Cabinets

Your kitchen looks old and tired, not that inviting room that it once was, so it's time for a makeover. Along with new flooring, counter tops and lighting, one of the most important elements are new cabinets. Heading to a showroom can bring confusion as everything there is perfect with no scratches or dings on any surface, no clutter on the counters. It all looks so good, but is it really?

What looks good in the showroom may not necessarily last in your kitchen. Well-made kitchen cabinets are like good furniture in that quality is not always apparent at first glance. Replacing cabinets with a quality installation isn't difficult if you know what to look for. All well-made cabinets have certain characteristics, no matter what their price point.

For cabinet faces, avoid any products that have defects like knots, pitch pockets, scars, irregularities in wood grain or noticeable color changes. Look for drawer fronts made from a single piece of wood. Pass up flat front that are not made of solid wood. End panels on the exposed side of the cabinet, should be made of solid wood with similar grain and color. All frame pieces should have mortise-and-tenon joinery, with screws driven from the inside out attach the carcass to the assembled panel.

Drawers will have hardwood sides that are at least 5/8-inch thick and will be groove routed to support a base. Joints will have dovetails at all corners. The carcass, the plywood box that forms the interior, should have side and floor panels that are at least 1/2-inch thick and shelves that are minimally 3/4-inch thick.

Small details are just as important. Hinges should be strong and adjustable to promote alignment. Floating panels around doors and on the sides should have deep grooves that allow the wood to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes. Look for drawers with two side-mounted slides for more support. Strong frame-to-carcass joints are also essential for overall sturdiness. Shelves should be supported by metal, not plastic brackets and have locking devices such as plastic retainer plugs for stability.


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