Traditional or European Kitchen Cabinets – Learn What You Need to Know Before Ordering Online
Buying kitchen cabinets from one of those Big Box or Home Improvement stores can turn out to be a big mistake. You have no idea if the person who helped you design and order one of the biggest purchases of your life has been working in the cabinet business for 20 years or 2 weeks. If you want to take a chance with your money and your project schedule, don’t bother to read on and go for it. A lot of people do it, and a lot of them really regret jumping so fast. Please keep reading.
DISCOVERING WHICH STYLE CABINETS TO BUY ONLINE
There are two basic styles of cabinets available now, the traditional cabinet and the frameless European-style cabinet. For people who want a nice modern look, the European style is probably right for you. With no front frames on the cabinet boxes, all you see are the doors and drawer fronts with no molding in between. Kitchencraft or Arch Bay by Kitchencraft is the best known manufacturer of the most modern European style cabinets. Made in Canada.
For an antique or historic style home, traditional style cabinets are probably what you are looking for. A front frame is attached around the entire front of the cabinet box, leaving a visible border between the doors and the drawer fronts. Kraftmaid Cabinets is best known for producing traditional style cabinets. Made in the USA Norcraft, Mid Continent, Ultracraft and Somersby kitchen cabinets also have traditional styles and are made in the USA.
There are many accessories and trim elements available for both types of cabinets including but not limited to crown molding, light rail trim, fillers, brackets, glass door inserts, glass shelves and the list goes on and on. Deciding what you would like in your new kitchen can be quite a challenge.
Basically all kitchen cabinets are built the same. They all start with a box, with or without a front frame, fixed or adjustable shelving, a door, and possibly some drawer fronts. Asking for great options for your kitchen is always an option, such as pot and pan storage, rolling trays, full extension drawer guides, etc. You now have a box with a shelf or two, possibly a rollout tray, doors, and a couple of drawers. So what is the problem with the huge price difference you ask? That is a good question.
The thickness and type of material used on the sides of the cabinet is one of the differences between cabinet manufacturers and options. Door profiles, wood species and finish color vary somewhat between companies. It is not enough to create such a big difference in prices between certain kitchen furniture companies. The finishing processes are all great, but Canadian manufacturer Kitchencraft claims to use a finishing process that the US EPA will not allow here. If it makes such a difference in the quality of the finish, I don’t know. Don’t waste a lot of time researching all the finish specifications of the big cabinet companies. Get some samples and choose what you like best. Keep going because there are many other decisions you will have to make before your kitchen project is complete.
Plywood ends and all plywood constructions are a couple of construction options to consider. Some companies offer plywood ends as a standard construction method. High-quality furniture board or particle board is what most of us know as another building material. Furniture board is fine for cabinet ends as they will all bolt together and into the walls. Some contractors prefer plywood ends in very humid weather. That is a personal choice that I am not sure I agree with. Now when it comes to a sink base cabinet or a vanity unit, you would probably order those plywood end cabinets in the event of a water leak under the sink. I think plywood would dry more consistently than furniture board. But again, the choice is up to you. Do some more research on that and decide for yourself if it’s worth the extra cost.
A couple of great things to look for as standard equipment or an option are full-extension drawer guides and easy-close drawer guides like Blum Blumotion types. The full extension guides allow the drawers to open fully so you can use the space in the back of the drawer that is not normally accessible with standard drawer guides. Blumotion drawer guides slow down the drawer as it closes so they don’t slam shut and damage the drawer fronts over time. Nice and quiet too.
Spec books and color brochures are a must after deciding on a kitchen furniture manufacturer. This will help you decide the gigantic number of plugins that are available to you. If you already have an idea of what you need in your kitchen, such as storage for baking trays, shelves for spices, pull-out pantries, you are ahead of the game. Take a walk through your current kitchen and think about all the things you don’t like about it and with it, and make a list to help you design the layout of your new space.
The main wood species for kitchen furniture are maple, cherry, oak, alder, walnut and pine. Maple and cherry are probably the most popular as they have a consistent and firm grain and finish very well. Don’t forget that cherry cabinets will darken over time, so you may want to select a color that is a shade lighter than the one you want to finish years down the road. Ask your cabinet specialist more about how much or how much darkening you can expect for what length of time.
Thermal foil is another finishing process used by most of the major cabinet companies. They place a thin sheet of material on a cabinet door or the front of a drawer, heat it, and vacuum it up to the surface. This method creates a very clean, smooth and durable finish on your cabinets. It is also less expensive than solid wood doors and drawer fronts. The only big drawback to thermal films is the colors. Typically, people who commission this type of cabinet want a very consistent white or beige color throughout the kitchen. I’m sure it comes in more colors than that, but would you really want any of them? Take a look and see if this is something you would like.
Since some of the cabinet companies operate with lead times of 8 and 9 weeks for delivery, you don’t want the person who sends your order to the factory for production to make mistakes. If you make a mistake in your order, even the smallest thing, like a letter or a number on a single important cabinet, you will be waiting weeks and even months to install your new kitchen. Use a cabinet specialist from a reputable online cabinet dealer. They do it day after day. They have years and years of training in the wardrobe industry. Don’t risk this great project about a pimple-faced kid and the DIY store who attended a 2-week training course on how to design and sell cabinets. This is a great investment for you, so don’t make this mistake with your kitchen cabinet project. You will be so upset if this happens.
Stock up on brochures from local cabinet stores. Find out if she likes traditional or European style cabinets. Pick a couple of wood species that you really like. Look for your favorite colors, finishes and enamels. See full extension guides and Blumotion drawer guides. Look at all the accessories in the brochures you are thinking of buying. Get really accurate measurements of your space and start making a list of the cabinets you’ll need for your project. You may also be able to get a list of common cabinet heights and widths. You may want them to give you a project budget and create a cabinet list for you as well. If you don’t buy from them, make sure the company you’re buying from triple-checks the entire cabinet nomenclature before they ask. You may also want to get another quote or two from some smaller cabinet companies. This will give you some good comparables to work with.
It is important to choose a reputable online cabinet dealer. Find out about them and read the testimonials. Make sure your sales team has knowledgeable and excellent cabinet specialists, excellent customer service, and prompt warranty follow-up. Ask lots of questions and make sure they know what they are talking about when it comes to your new kitchen cabinets. Fax them the list and go over every detail and every cabinet with them to make sure you didn’t forget the fillers, end panels, toe, etc. These things are very easy to forget if you don’t do it day after day like everyone else. But you’re going to go crazy if you don’t have everything you need when installing your kitchen.