Cabinet Construction Features
All Cabinets Are NOT Created Equal
Cabinet style will be what grabs your eye when you’re planning a new kitchen, but it’s the quality of the construction that will decide if your cabinets will continue looking just as good years from now as they did the day they were delivered.
Whether you are purchasing stock, modular, or custom cabinets, you deserve a well-made product that will withstand the rigors of everyday use.
Here are some features to look for when considering new
cabinets, along with the reasons why they’re important for a
sound, long-term investment.
1. Side Panels
Look for side panels that measure ½” to ¾” thick and are made from plywood. Of all cabinet substrate materials, plywood is the most resistant to moisture and has the best screw-holding power.
Exterior cabinet sides should be finished with genuine wood veneer that matches the wood species used on the doors, drawers, and face frames.
Avoid ⅜” thick side panels, especially those made from laminate-coated particle board, which can quickly swell and delaminate under regular household moisture conditions. Particleboard also lacks the tensile strength to help keep your cabinets perfectly square over the long haul.
There isn’t necessarily a single best choice for interior cabinet surfaces but natural wood veneer is often preferred due to its warmth, beauty, and durability. Wood veneer used on cabinet interiors should be finished with a washable conversion varnish topcoat that allows for easy cleaning with a damp cloth.
Stain-resistant melamine is a lower-maintenance interior surface that helps prevent the spread of bacteria. It can be made to look nearly identical to natural wood or can complement modern styles in light-reflective white or gray colors.
Either material is a fine choice for the inside of your new kitchen cabinets.
Look for shelves made from ¾” thick plywood, which can accept heavy loads, such as canned goods and dinnerware, without warping or sagging. ½” and ⅝” thick shelves are less likely to maintain their dimensional stability, especially when they are made from particleboard.
The high levels of humidity we experience on Long Island all but ensure moisture in the air will cause particleboard shelves to warp over time. Once particleboard loses its original shape, there is no getting it back and replacement shelves will need to be purchased.
Have you ever had a crooked cabinet door in your home? How about a door that would never stay fully closed no matter how hard you tried to shut it?
If so, your hinges were probably lacking some important performance features you should look for in your new cabinets. The best hinges feature six-way adjustability -- in and out, side-to-side, up and down -- for perfect door alignment. They also include a self-closing mechanism that automatically pulls the door shut when it comes within two inches of the cabinet front, eliminating unsightly partially opened doors.
Finally, look for integrated soft-close technology built into the hinge, with no exposed parts. Your doors will close gently and quietly no matter how hard they’re pushed, eliminating wear and tear on both the cabinet doors and fronts.
The best drawers have four solid wood sides, as opposed to three sides made from plywood or particleboard with a drawer head holding them together in the front. The thickness of a high-quality solid wood drawer side ranges from ⅝” to ¾” thick. A plywood bottom is fitted into grooves on all sides.
The most important feature of cabinet drawers is the method of joinery. Look for drawers that have dovetail joints on all four sides. With dovetail joinery, the ends of each piece of solid wood are notched to interlock with one another, guaranteeing they will never pull apart over the lifetime of the cabinets. Less sturdy joinery methods, such as single cam fasteners or staples & glue, carry no such guarantee.
6. Drawer Runners
There are a few key phrases to look for when it comes to drawer runners (also known as drawer glide systems) - Undermount, Full-extension, Fully Concealed, and Soft-close.
Look for runners mounted underneath the drawer box (undermounted), as opposed to on the sides. Not only are unsightly parts hidden from view this way (fully concealed), but more importantly, you will receive added storage space inside the drawer since undermount runners don’t take up extra space on each side like their side-mounted counterparts.
Full-extension means the drawers extend all the way out to the face of the cabinet, allowing you to easily see and reach items stored in the very back. Unlike standard ¾ extension runners, full-extension systems allow for a 21” long drawer box, which offers 15% more storage than conventional 18” drawers, as well as 25% more drawer access. Integrated soft-closing buffers stop the drawer when two inches from the cabinet face and pull it closed silently, eliminating abuse to both cabinet doors and fronts.
7. Base Cabinet Roll-Out Trays
If you ever had to remove the items from the front of a base cabinet to take out something you have stored in the very back, you already understand how convenient roll-out trays can be in your new kitchen.
Not only do they allow you to easily slide the contents on the bottom of the cabinet all the way out to the front, but they also allow for a full-depth top shelf in the base cabinet, which may double your usable storage space.
An optional upgrade elsewhere in the industry, we offer several brands that include these at no added charge.