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Home Remodeling Blog

Custom Cabinets: What to Look for When Remodeling Your Kitchen

By Bryan Slowick | Jun 21, 2017

If you’re planning a kitchen remodel for your Chicago North Shore area home in the near future, chances are you’ll already have done ample research on styles that you find visually appealing. You may even have viewed inspiring remodel photos and created a folder on Pinterest or Houzz where you’ve saved your favorites.

These are all wonderful starting points, but it’s also important to know what you want in the “guts” of your kitchen. So today, we’ve put together a guide to help you know what to look for interms of the actual construction and hardware of your kitchen cabinets.

Materials: Laminates, Thermofoil, Hardwood/Plywood Combinations, and Solid Hardwood

There are four common cabinet materials for your kitchen remodel: laminate, Thermofoil, hardwood and plywood combinations, and solid hardwood.

Laminate cabinets are on the low end of both cost and appearance. They are composed of a base paper layer, a printed and colored surface that often resembles wood, and a protective outside coating. These three layers are saturated in resin and bound to a substrate, making them very heavy but also extremely durable.

Thermofoil cabinets use heat and pressure to adhere a vinyl top layer onto a substrate. Thermofoil imitates wood better than laminate and can be customized to resemble specific colors and grains, but it is also less durable.

Plywood/hardwood veneer combinations and solid hardwood are the most preferable for your kitchen cabinet home construction. They can sometimes be difficult to distinguish since the veneersuse real hardwood as their outer layer. These combinations are more affordable and also more stable in high-humidity areas, but their overall integrity cannot match that of solid hardwood.

Common hardwood material choices include white oak, red oak, hickory, birch, hard maple, cherry, and ash.Keep in mind that solid hardwood is suspect to ward when atmospheric humidity changes, but if cabinets are completely finished before leaving their factory or custom-made facility, they should be set.If you opt for hardwood, consider which color and grain you prefer, and also investigate how a stain will affect the final appearance of your chosen wood.

Download our Kitchen Design Guide eBook.

Construction: Frames, Joints, Drawers, and Special Features

When it comes to construction, it can be hard to assess a cabinet’s integrity unless you know what you’re looking for. In general, it’s important to remember that cabinets end up bearing substantial weight once countertops and appliances are installed. Because of this, thicker side, end, floor, and back panels are preferable. For instance, front frames should be ¾” thick. In addition, cabinet boxes should be supported by l-beam or corner braces, and solid wood bracing should be used to attach cabinet boxes to walls.

Cabinet joints may be fastened with dowels or rabbets, glue and staples, or dovetail joints. Of these, tightly-fitting dovetail joints are the most stable. When considering drawer slides, opt for rollers with steel ball bearings and metal attachments rather than plastic or nylon since metal slides offer higher load ratings. In terms of slide location, undermount slides are generally preferable to sidemount slides since they increase interior drawer space. 

Finally, be sure to consider upgrading to full extension or over-travel slides instead of slides that only allow the cabinet to come out ¾ of the way. This is particularly handy when drawers are located near the floor.

Other special construction features include adjustable drawer slides that enable drawers to be realigned when cabinet alignment inevitably shifts over time. High-quality drawer slides and cabinet doors will also feature soft-close action that enables cabinets to close themselves when gently nudged. Knowing these pointers on good design technology will enhance your kitchen life.

 Kitchen Remodeling Design Guide

Tags: Custom Cabinets Chicago North Shore

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